Training after the age of 40 is not that different from earlier stages of your life. If you already have a good training program in place, all you need to adjust are the weights, reps, and volume. The problem is that many people do the same workouts for years without testing them out or challenging themselves physically.
How to train From sports to physical activity and even regular everyday activities, the key to keeping up your body fitness is commitment. You’ll find out more about this and other important information that will help you train after the age of 40.
Training after the age of 40
Getting into the ’40s is getting into a beautiful decade. When we reach this age, we already have a long way to go. We have headed, have accumulated experience, and have some perspective on the circumstances surrounding us.
It is this perspective that helps us realize that we are at a critical moment in life. You want to feel young, look young and make the most of the signs of aging.
And we don’t mean wrinkles, but those signs you notice in your physiology as the years go by.
This article focuses on physical activity after the age of 40.
👉 Scientific literature shows us that movement is the essential way to prevent old-age diseases.
However, when we talk about exercise from this age, thousands of doubts arise:
- If many already have a hard time training after age 20, how do I train after age 40 when I’m sitting in an office all day?
- Can I lift weight after 40?
- Or is aerobic exercise better and going for a run?
Training after 40 shouldn’t be much different from how you trained your whole life if you’re already an active person (with certain nuances, of course). But if you’re one of those people who’s decided to start training from the age of 40, you should have a strategy behind you.
Read on, because today we will address all possible points about training after the age of 40, so that from now on you will add more health and youth to your life.
How does age influence training after the age of 40?
First of all, it’s worth highlighting the obvious: Your physical abilities don’t change simply because a year or ten has passed, so in general, the biological approach doesn’t vary much from 20 to 40 or 60.
On the other hand, age is too abstract a concept and your chronological age is not the same as biological age.
That is, there are healthy people in their 40s who have worn their bodies so long that they are 60 years old, while others are 40 years old but a biological age comparable to that of a 30-year-old boy.
Therefore, the path you have traveled here and how you are currently located is the main factor to consider when planning your activity.
That said, there are other factors to keep in mind if you want to know how to train after age 40 correctly.
These nuances are mainly based on the assimilation capacity of training, recovery times, and the ability to synthesize new muscles.
What to do before to train after the age of 40?
As we mentioned, 3 factors condition how to cope with physical activity and train after age 40:
- Your lifestyle
- Stress level
- History of physical activity
If you eat well, rest, and your whole life, you’ve done sport, the point you need to focus on is that goal you’re chasing when training.
Muscle has memory, and if you have exercised it throughout your life, in much less time, you will get your level back.
On the other hand, if you’ve always been sedentary, you’ll need to start more progressively and focus on some specific physical abilities.
👉 Start with those activities that your body already knows. You will add new exercises as you feel that your body adapts to the movement.
Use the pyramid of physical activity
If you’re not sure how to start training after the age of forty, the pyramid of physical activity can help.
This pyramid tries to replicate the type of activity that human beings had performed when even movement was indispensable for survival and is significantly related to what your physiology expects of you.
Pyramid Base: Move frequently with low intensity.
To follow this pyramid is to help your body go from being passive to being an active person. As you have to go slowly, you start moving daily at low intensity.
Frequently moving slowly strengthens cardiovascular and immune systems promote efficient fat metabolism, and provides a solid foundation for managing more intense workouts.
The great promoter of low-intensity training is Phil Maffetone. You can review some of his articles to check all the evidence with such interventions.
Intermediate Level: Strength training at least 2 times a week
Muscle is the number one protector of your metabolism. As we get older, the ability to maintain and build muscle usually decreases, so it’s critical to do this kind of work if you want to train after 40.
Top of the pyramid: High-intensity exercise 2 to 5 times a week between 5 and 20 minutes
High-intensity exercise promotes the most physical and performance improvement, as well as stimulating anti-aging mechanisms. The key to this type of intervention (especially from the age of 40) is the dose.
Remember that the ability to recover has decreased on average, so it is vital not to pass or overtrain, as it would mean a decrease in your abilities and go against your goals.
Start by working force with volume and not with high load
Everyone gets old. Inevitably. So over the years, your muscles, tendons, and surrounding tissues tend to become stiffer and lose elasticity, which can contribute to an overall loss of strength and an increased risk of injury.
If we add to this the intrinsic micro-lesve factor of strength work (necessary as we have seen), we need to start this type of training concretely.
Recent studies have shown that both high-load and low-load strength training could boost muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy to the same degree.
This image, so ingrained in a sport that shows how we have to lift a lot of weight and buy material to gain muscle, is not necessarily the only way to gain muscle mass.
The explanation for all this is that the key to getting muscle gain stimulated is the number of muscle fibers recruited during an exercise.
The more weight lift, the more fibers are recruited
Imagine you want to move a stone by pulling on some ropes you’ve tied to it. The more the stone weighs, the more ropes you’ll need.
What is new is that it has been discovered that as we perform repetitions towards an exercise failure. More muscle units are recruited until, failing out. All units within the muscle are activated in an attempt to lift the weight.
Therefore, while putting a lot of weight on your workout is a way to gain muscle, it is equally important to put less weight and lengthen repetitions until you reach failure.
And why is this discovery so exciting?
Because as we saw earlier, all tissues besides muscle must adapt to lifting high weights and not adapting to the same speed.
If you have a little adaptive tissue and are already worn by age and put high weights on it, the risk of injury increases brutally.
However, if you plan lighter exercises but come to failure, you’re going to get the same result and a much lower risk of injury.
Protein consumption when training after the age of 40
As we age, protein requirements to have the same results in our muscle gain are rising.
Although at 40, you are still young and not one of the most decisive factors, we recommend that to optimize your performance and your recoverability, your protein intake results in between 1.6 and 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight.
That is if you weigh 70 kg x 2.2 x 154 grams of protein per day.
Meat and fish, for example, contain 20% protein, and in the case of the egg, 15%.
Remember that it is essential to consume quality foods, avoid processing and vary both the type of protein and the part of the animal we consume.
Prioritize rest and improve your lifestyle
As a rule, we reached 40 with some more responsibilities than when we were 20 years old. Work, family, house, car…
And now you want to add physical activity.
To do this, you should keep in mind that over time, the ability to activate regeneration mechanisms decreases.
Therefore, it is decisive that you give enough space to recover well from the if you want it to be part of your life.
It’s not usually an excellent strategy to take hours off your sleep to get the time to train (at least at first).
👉 The essential techniques to optimize your rest are:
- Avoid intense light and expose yourself to screens an hour before going to sleep. Your brain must understand it’s night.
- Sleep at least 4, 5, or 6 sleep cycles, which correspond to 6, 7.5, or 9h. Physical skill improvements are incorporated into the later stages of sleep, so I recommend storing more at 7.5-9h than 6.
- Expose to intense light in the morning, so your brain quickly understands that it’s daylight.
Following these techniques, you will have more energy and better muscles, but your body will have regenerated, and you will be able to face the next training with less wear.
Adapt your context before you start training
It is essential to highlight some of the basic premises that will help you be healthy and get good sensations.
And for this, I have always liked to make a simile with the seeds:
Before sowing a seed, you have to prepare the soil because it does not matter if the seed’s quality is outstanding. Without adequate soil, that seed could germinate but will not transform into a healthy oak tree.
That’s why I recommend that before you think “how to train after 40”, follow these premises, they are the ground for your body to prepare to give everything by training and become that oak tree:
Eat natural food, not processed products or sweeteners
All products with more than five ingredients are often designed to confuse your brain and consume more than you need. Only by following this premise will you deflate your digestive tract, and, by the way, you will start to normalize your weight because your body will be able to identify whether it needs to eat or not.
Drink mineral water
That simple, anything else is merely unnecessary. If you want to delve into this topic, here is our hydration guide.
Move-in a fun way and on an empty stomach
At least 4 hours after the last meal. Moving with an empty belly creates the most favorable metabolic context for the practice of physical activity.
For most of our evolution, we have been under the sun for many hours, which is an indispensable factor in being healthy. Among many other functions, sunlight is necessary for regulating our circadian rhythm and for vitamin D synthesis.
More and more authors suggest that living near the natural environment (including gardens and agricultural land) has long-term health benefits. These benefits are caused by the psychological need to live in the environment in which we evolve as a species. Humans have an evolutionarily predetermined need to expose ourselves to nature. When we don’t, we feel nostalgic.
Enjoy doing nothing
Your nervous system is not adapted to this frantic and suffering rate of life. Imagine the lions frolicking in the shade, enjoying doing nothing until it’s time to go hunting. We are made like lions, and we need those times of daily rest.
Set yourself an attractive goal
If you think about it, physical activity has been a survival tool for most of our history. Therefore, when the mind perceives a reward for exercise, movement is stimulated (as when we were saved from a predator, we got food hunting, etc.)
On the other hand, the mind protects you from wasting calories for no reason and boycotts meaningless movement, as we explain in our article “How to start training and not quit.”
If you want to train after forty and not give up at forty-one months, you must have a goal that motivates you a lot.
Now that the movement is no longer indispensable, the benefit to be obtained must be
You can’t imagine how easy everything becomes when your mind supports you in sports practice.
Therefore, it is about raising your goals in what you will achieve and that just thinking about it gives you good feelings. Be stronger than at 20, go with your children to run to the mountain, flirt in Tinder… Whatever it is, but let it motivate you.
First of all, congratulations if you’ve considered training after you’re 40. Making the decision is the first step, and I can’t imagine a better gift for your body than this.
This would be the order to carry out your training:
- Set of a goal. Set yourself a positive goal of what you want to achieve, and make it motivating to make you want to get up every morning.
- Prepare. Discuss what other aspects of your lifestyle need to be improved to support the movement.
- Start with what you already know. If you can start with what you see, it will be easier to implement because the muscle has memory and will adapt very quickly.
In case you’ve never done sport, follow the premises of the fitness pyramid. It is essential, to begin with, to avoid injury and not to give up on the road.
- Use the magic formula. Make sure you consume an adequate amount of protein to regenerate your muscles and strengthen your muscle fibers. And add a good amount of rest to get your body back and start with energy every day.
- Enjoy the results. Once you have done your first workout, enjoy the sensations. If it hasn’t been pleasant, reduce the intensity for the second workout a little bit. After a few sessions, the bad sensations will go away, and you will be inundated with dopamine. Then you only have to enjoy the results.
Whether you’re over 40 or not, there are many changes in your body and mind. You might lower down the level of motivation, but still, you can do it. It’s not easy but possible. With some extra effort, practice and consistency, you can achieve your goals.