Hitting the Gym and Making Strength Gains In Your 40s
Hitting your 40s means you’re going downhill, strength training-wise. Or does it and does it even have to be true? Fortunately, you don’t have to experience the downhill slide even when you’re hitting the middle-aged years! You have to make adjustments in your strength training program, as well as adopt a more determined approach to it, to match your changing body.
Besides, when you consider the world’s list of top strength athletes, you will find more than a few in their 40s and older. We can mention George Brink, the first person over 50 years old who can deadlift over 800 pounds, and Odd Haugen whose track record in professional strongman contests is made more impressive because of his age (i.e., 50-plus).
Adopt the Three-part Warm-up
Warm-ups are crucial for all athletes and fitness enthusiasts because it prepares the body for the rigors of the workout proper. But for people 40 years old and above, the crucial importance of warm-ups cannot be overemphasized for several reasons. These include the increased risk of injury due to one or two, perhaps even more, issues in mobility, flexibility, and strength.
You may, for example, have more issues with your knee joints especially after experiencing an injury to these parts. You may even have issues with your balance, which will affect your weightlifting performance.
For this reason, you should embrace the three-part warm-up program. You will spend more time on warm-ups but it will be well worth it considering your decreased risk of injuries and increased opportunities for getting in more muscle gains.
Here’s the three-part warm-up:
- Perform 5-10 minutes of general warm-up cardiovascular exercises, such as brisk walking, jumping rope, or running on a treadmill. Be sure to warm-up, too, such as stretching your joints.
- Do a dynamic stretching routine for two minutes or more.
- Perform warm-up strength training exercises, which involve a series of progressive exercises.
You and your personal trainer at Gold’s Gym can discuss the details of the warm-up exercises according to your own fitness goals. The main goals, nonetheless, are to contribute to your workout safety, increase your training volume, and prepare your mind and body more for the rigors of training over 40.
Place Greater Emphasis on Form
Keep in mind that strength is a learned and practiced skill. In fact, strength means being able to perform repetitive weightlifting movements over and over again while maintaining perfect form. Otherwise, the strength gains will be compromised in several ways, such as lesser strength in another part of the body and higher risk of injury.
When you’re over 40 years old, you have to place greater emphasis on proper form at every step of each movement. You must consider technical inadequacies including imperfect techniques as weaknesses and, thus, you must act effectively on them. Your willingness to master the movements including its proper form and technique will get you closer to your strength training goals.
But don’t push yourself until beyond failure, especially on compound exercises. You’re not doing yourself any favors because nearing failure, you will likely sacrifice form for completing the reps.
When you’re a beginner in strength training in your 40s – it happens to many people so don’t sweat about it – you’re well-advised to hire a personal trainer. You will then have an experienced fitness trainer who will provide expert guidance on proper form, technique and number of sets and reps in your workout. Your gains will be greater for it, too, not to mention that you can have an exercise buddy who can serve as your inspiration in becoming better in your middle age.
Get More Sleep
Bon Jovi may have sang that he will sleep when he’s dead but it isn’t such a great idea when you’re building muscle in your 40s. You may have been able to work out during the day, get in office work in between, and party all night – and then repeating everything tomorrow – in your 20s but not so in your 40s. It’s just the natural effects of aging setting in.
Of course, building your muscle strength demands hard work whatever your age but when you’re younger, the gains are faster and easier to achieve. But as you grow older, these gains become harder to get because of a slower metabolism, among other reasons.
Even in your 20s, your body also needs adequate rest and recovery periods to repair the micro-injuries to your muscles and tissues. By the time you hit your 40s, you will need longer rest and recovery periods since your body has lesser capability for repair, as sad as it may sound.
The bottom line: You have to pencil in more sleep during the night, perhaps even power naps during the day, in order to maximize your muscle gains. You should also get better sleep because quality matters as much as quantity.
In conclusion, hitting your 40s should be more motivation to work smarter in the gym. You have so many ways to overcome your body’s physical limitations that achieving a ripped physique is still possible.