Best Body Weight Exercises. Which Work? ..And Which Are a Waste Of Time?

 

When you just can’t get to the gym, when you’re traveling, when you want a change of routine, or if you just HATE going to the gym but still want to work out, there’s always BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES.  

You can do them in your living room, hotel or AirBnB room, backyard or local park.

I’m a gym guy, but I have often used some of these exercises when traveling internationally and don’t have access to a gym.  (Gyms are not ubiquitous worldwide like they are in this country.)

What I’m going to do in this article is give you a list of exercises that will get you closer to your goals and then give you a list of those not to bother with.

CATCH:  You have to do them in almost perfect form for them to do any good.

 

PURPOSE

Certain body weight exercises can be real muscle builders.  Others not so much. Since our goal here is to add muscle, we’ll concentrate on body weight exercises that will help you gain muscle and help you get in great shape.

 

WHAT YOU NEED

Since we’re gonna stick to body weight only exercises, you won’t need any weights, but some exercises will rmuscular guy doing crunchesequire a piece of equipment or two.  Such as:

Doorway Bar – for one of the exercises.

Chair – a sturdy chair

Ab Roller – not essential

Exercise Ball – a useful piece of equipment for body weight exercises

Exercise Mat – for both indoors and outdoors – kinda need this unless you’re really tough skinned.

If you want to exercise inside, you’ll need an area large enough to put your mat – room enough to lay down  and be able to spread your arms out from your side, so about 8′ x 4.’  If you want to exercise outdoors, the same applies, but you probably don’t have to think about this if you have a yard or a park nearby. Most hotel and Airbnb rooms will work.

If you want to exercise outdoors, the same applies, but you probably don’t have to think about this if you have a yard or a park nearby. Most hotel rooms and Airbnb rooms will be large enough.

 

EXERCISE MAT

exercise mats are necessary for home exercisesIn both situations (indoors and outdoors), you probably want a nice sturdy Exercise Mat. You can find them on Amazon, at your local sporting goods store or even Walmart.  They come in a variety of sizes and thickness.  Here’s what you want:

  • Make sure it’s a least 6′ x 2′ in size
  • Make sure it’s at least 1/2″ thick

A good one that I recommend is here on Amazon.  It’s simple and not expensive and does the job. Don’t fall for the ones that advertise to be 3/4″ thick.  They’re not, and you don’t need one that thick.

 

DOORWAY BAR

Depending on what exercises you choose to do, you may also want a Doorway Bar.  There are several good exercises that will require a stationary bar, and a bar designed to be secured in a doorway is a good and inexpensive alternative.  If you’ll click here, you’ll go to the one that I think is the best for the money. It cost a little bit more than some of the others, but it is simple and secure, and that’s all you need.

Don’t buy a cheap one.  They don’t do the job.

EXERCISE BALL

An Exercise Ball can be useful, but not essential. They’re good for developing your core strength and balance.  They can make an easy exercise hard.  We’ll include two (2) exercises using an exercise ball.

Here’s a good one to try.

You can make an entire program out of exercise ball exercises, but our focus here is to build muscle and get fit.  Exercise balls are geared more for stretching and toning exercises and not sufficiently geared toward gaining muscle.

 

CHOOSE FROM THESE GOOD BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES

There are a lot of body weight exercises that you can do.  Some are better than others.  Here are some that I recommend as being more useful for getting and staying in shape.

 

CLOSE GRIP PUSH UP

 

Position yourself face down and put your hands together so that they’re almost touching.

Lower yourself until your chest almost touches the floor.

Using your triceps and some of your pectoral muscles, push back up to the starting position.

 

 

 

CRUNCHES WITH STABILITY BALL

Lie flat on your back with your feet resting on an exercise ball and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
Place your feet on the ball a few inches apart so they almost touch.
Place your hands lightly on either side of your head keeping your elbows in.
     Now, raise your upper body without using your hands to pull your        head up.

 

 

SIDE PLANK

Lie on your right or left side with your legs straight.

Prop yourself up with your right or left forearm so your body forms a diagonal line.

Rest your left hand on your hip.

Hold for 30 seconds to start with and add 15 seconds each time you do it until you work up to 2 minutes.

Be sure your hips and knees stay off the floor.

 

 

BRIDGING

Lie flat on the floor on your back with the hands by your side and your knees bent. Your feet should be placed shoulder width apart.

Pushing mainly with your heels, lift your hips off the floor while keeping your back straight. …

 Lift as high as you can until your torso is in a  straight line from your knees to your neck.

 

 

BENT KNEE HIP RAISE

Start on your back with bent knees and palms down at your sides or under your butt.

Raise your hips up and off the floor so that your knees are over your chest.

Contract your abs for a moment before lowering.

 

 

 

 

BENCH DIP

Sit on the front of a chair or side of a bench.
Place hands on edge of chair or bench.
Straighten arms, slide rear end off of the edge of a chair or the bench, and rest heels on the floor with legs straight.
Lower body by bending arms until slight stretch is felt in chest or shoulder. Raise body and repeat.

 

 

 

CROSS BODY CRUNCHES

Lie on your back and bend your knees.

Position your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands loosely behind your head.

Bring your right elbow and shoulder across your body. At the same time, move your left knee toward your left shoulder. Try to touch your knee with your elbow.

Move back down to the starting position

Repeat the movement with your left elbow and your right knee.

 

 

EXERCISE BALL PULL IN

Lay down as if you were performing a pushup.

Place your feet and shins over an exercise ball.

Keeping your back straight and support your weight on your hands

Pull your knees towards your chest, so the ball rolls forward under your ankles.

Crunch your abs and then roll the ball back to starting position straighten your legs.

Keep your back straight as you perform this exercise.

 

LEG RAISES

Lie on your back, legs straight and together.
Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor.
Slowly lower your legs back down till they’re just above the floor.

 PULL UP

Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing forward.

Create a curvature in your lower back and stick your chest out.

Pull your body up until the bar touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back.

Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.

 

 

 

 

WHICH EXERCISES NOT TO DO

Here’s the catch.  Almost any body weight exercise will some benefit for you.

The ones that WILL NOT have benefit for you are ANY that you do incorrectly. If you are not strict with how you perform any exercise, you will not gain the full benefit as a result.  If you do almost any exercise with strict form and pay attention to the muscle or muscle group that you’re working, you’ll gain some benefit

 

SUMMARY

Body weight exercises are not exercises that will help you gain  a great deal of muscle, and thus the maximum benefits for the time invested, but they are useful for traveling, at-home workouts when you can’t or don’t want to go to the gym and for that impromptu exercise in the park.

I suggest that body weight exercises not be what you do all the time.  Weights are the best for getting you the benefits that we’re looking for.

See you at the gym

Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 4

Exercises For Week 4

The following workout is designed to follow Workouts for Men – Exercise Guide – Week 3.

If you didn’t start at Week 1 and go through Weeks 2 and 3, I advise you to start with Week 1,… but it’s not absolutely necessary.

You could do this set of exercises as a separate workout, and in fact, you could do any of the four-week programs as stand-alone exercise programs. They’re all useful.  It’s just a progression of exercises that has been designed to start with Week 1 and get progressively more advanced.

They’re all useful.  It’s just a progression of exercises that has been designed to start with Week 1 and get progressively more advanced.

It’s just a progression of exercises that has been designed to start with Week 1 and get progressively more advanced.

 

 

Here are the basics:

RULES

**Good Form – This is probably the most important rule.  You need to understand how important this is – good form.  Your success in gaining muscle and not injuring yourself is tied to how well you perform each exercise.  The better your form is when doing each exercise with the correct form, the more benefit you will get from the exercise.

**Do Not Rest more than a minute (60 sec) to a minute and a half  (90 sec) between each set.

**Do Not Rest more than two minutes between each exercise.

**Ask For Help from a fellow gym goer if you need a spot or you want clarification about an exercise. Everyone is happy to help you. You might even find a trainer who would help. 🙂

**Concentrate on the muscle that you are working on. Think about the actual muscle you’re working and make sure that you’re putting stress on that muscle or muscle group.

**Don’t Do Less than what is required by your workout schedule. This will require mental dedication. Don’t quit your workout early or skip an exercise.  Getting in shape requires discipline.

TRIANGLE TECHNIQUE

The Triangle Technique is a technique that I have developed over the years,…. developed from my trying different exercises and techniques to get bigger and stronger.  It has been a trial and error process that has resulted in the exercises that work best for hard gainers like me.

Easy gainer guys can do almost anything and gain muscle.  Those of us with more challenging body types have to use methods that break through the normal advice of gym trainers and muscle magazines.  They’re designed for the ectomorph.

Get the details here (coming soon), but for now, the basics are as follows:

 

Progressively Lighter Weight

This technique uses a progressively lighter weight for each exercise repetition.

For each exercise, you will start with a heavier weight and work down to a lighter weight.

For instance, if you were going to do a set of barbell arm curls, you might start with 35 lbs. for the first repetition.  Then for the second repetition, you’d take 5 lbs off and do the curl with 30 lbs.  And finally, for the third repetition, you’d take off another 5 lbs and do a rep with 25 lbs.

You’re only doing three repetitions for each exercise.

 

More Exercises, Fewer Repetitions

I believe that the more variety you give your muscles, the better they respond to growth.

Based on this principle, The Triangle Technique will have you do more exercises and only three sets of each exercise – 6-8 repetitions per exercise.

Most exercise programs will have you do four (4) to six (6) sets of each exercise.  I find that the more variety your muscles get, the stronger and bigger they get.

 

Go to Failure with Each Exercise

Many exercise routines designed for beginners and guys over 40 will not ask you to go to failure, for fear that you will injure yourself.

This is not the best advice.  If you want to add muscle, with all the associated benefits, you’re gonna have to push yourself to failure, or almost failure with every exercise.

The weight doesn’t matter so much, but the ideal is to pick a beginning weight that will allow you to do 6 to 8 repetitions for the first set.  Remember, we’re gonna reduce the weight for the second and third set, so the beginning weight will be your heaviest weight. You should then be able to do 6-8 repetitions for every set.

All of your workouts will be using The Triangle Technique.

 

WEEK 4

This is a continuation of the Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide.

WEEK 4 –  Workout Day 1 – Upper Body

Exercise 1 – Back – Pullups – (Advanced)

Grab a high pull-up bar with your palms facing forward. (Each time you do this exercise, you should vary the width of your grip to get the best results.)

Now that you have both hands on the bar, slightly arch your back and stick your chest out.

Pull your body up until the bar touches your upper chest.

Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the top.

After a second at the top, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position where your arms are fully extended.

If you can’t do at least 4 of these, go try a lat-assist machine. You kneel on a pad which is weighted so you’re not pulling your entire weight up. Do this until you feel strong enough to do 4 Pullups by yourself.

This is one of the ultimate exercises.  Once you can do 10 of these, you’ll probably look fantastic.

Exercise 2 –  Arms – Hammer Curls with Rope

Attach a rope to a low pulley and stand facing the machine, not too far away, although varying the distance from the machine is a good way to vary the angle of resistance.

Grab the rope with a palms-in grip and stand up straight up while keeping your body static.

Put your elbows by your side and keep them there for the entire exercise. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE OF FORM – keep your elbows glued to your side.

Only the forearms should move; not your upper arms.

Using your biceps, pull your arms up until your biceps touch your forearms.

After a 1 second contraction where you squeeze your biceps, slowly lower the weight back to the original position.


Exercise 3 – Chest – Incline Bench Press 

 The standard barbell bench is one of the best compound exercises you can do.  It allows you to move a lot of weight, and it’s also an easier lift to control than using heavy dumbbells. Additionally, it’s one of the most fun exercises to do.

Lay on the bench with your feet flat on the ground. A lot of guys don’t realize that you should be using your feet to drive through your hips when you’re lifting.

Take a medium grip covering the rings on the bar. There often are two smooth rings on the bar.  I use these to position my hands.

Remove the bar from the rack, holding the weight above your chest with your arms extended. Lower the bar to your sternum.

Maintain control and do not bounce the bar off of your chest. Your elbows should stay slightly drawn in.

After touching your chest with the bar, extend the elbows to return the bar to the starting position.



Exercise 4 –  Arms – Dumbbell Curl

Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your elbows close to your torso and keep your palms facing forward.  NOTE:  Keep your elbows glued to your side.

Now, keeping the upper arms stationary, curl the weights while contracting your biceps.

Continue to raise the weights until your biceps are fully contracted and the dumbbells are at shoulder level.

Hold this position for a second as you squeeze your biceps.

Then lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.



Exercise 5 – Shoulders – Lateral Raises

Choose a couple of dumbbells (weight TBD by you in a trial and error process) and stand with up straight with the dumbbells by your side.

While maintaining your body in a static position, lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend in the elbow.

Do not swing the dumbbells.  You’ll defeat the whole purpose of the exercise.

Lift your arms until they are parallel to the floor.

Pause for a second at the top.

Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position.

 

 

WEEK 4 –  Workout Day 2 – Lower Body

Exercise 1 – Squats

Squats are the single most important lift you can do. They incorporate your entire body and focus the work on your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. You should do them every week.

I often use a Smith machine because I don’t workout with a partner who can spot me. A Smith machine is a good safe way to do squats.

I find the best technique for me is not let your upper legs go below being parallel to the floor. Any more than that and you’re putting too much stress on your knees.  I even suggest half-squats to start off.

 

Exercise 2 – Hack Squat

Get on the machine with your back against the pad of the machine and put your shoulders under the shoulder pads.

Position your legs on the platform using a shoulder width medium stance
Keep your head up at all times.

Place your arms on the handles of the machine and disengage the safety bars.
Now straighten your legs without locking your knees.

Begin to slowly lower yourself by bending at the knees as you maintain a straight posture with your head up.

Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes about 90-degrees or almost parallel to the floor.

Now raise the unit by pushing up with primarily the heel of your foot as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position.

Exercise 3 – Leg Extensions

 You will need to use a leg extension machine for this exercise. Most gyms will have several.

First, choose your weight (trial and error – a weight that will allow you to do 4-6 repetitions) and then sit on the machine with your legs under the pad with your hands holding the side bars.

Make sure that your legs form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg.

Using your quadriceps, extend your legs to the maximum height that you can.

Make sure that the rest of your body remains stationary on the seat. Pause a second and then,

slowly lower the weight back to the original position making sure that you do not go past the 90-degree angle limit.


 

Exercise 4 – Lunges

Lunges are a quintessential exercise. It’s important to do lunges properly so you don’t put unwanted strain on your joints, and knees, specifically. Here’s how to do a lunge correctly:

Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed  Always engage your core.

Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far.

Make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor. Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.

Exercise 3 – Calf Raises

Sit on the machine and place your toes on the lower portion of the platform with your heels extending off.

Place your lower thighs under the lever pad, which will need to be adjusted according to the height of your thighs.

Lift the lever slightly by pushing your heels up and release the safety bar.


 

WEEK 4-  Workout Day 3 – Abs

Exercise 1 – Crunch

 Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Now place your hands lightly on either side of your head. DO NOT pull your head up with your hands when doing this exercise

While pushing the small of your back down into the floor begin to roll your shoulders off the floor.

 

Exercise 2 – Leg Raises

This move will tone your lower abs as well as strengthen your entire core.

Start with your hands below your booty, legs raised a few inches above the ground. Keep your legs straight as you slowly raise them up as high as you can.

Reverse the move back to start.

Do as many as you can.  Shoot for 10 the first time and work up to 20


Exercise 3 – Plank

Get into a pushup position and bend your elbows to lower your forearms to the floor. Hold the position with abs tightened.

This guy is doing the another version where you support yourself with your hands instead of your elbows.

Start by doing 1 minute.  Then each week increase the amount you plank by 15 or 30 seconds.

 

Exercise 4 – Kips 

Lie flat on the floor on your back with your arms extended straight back behind your head and your legs extended also.

Bend at the waist while simultaneously raising your legs and arms to meet in a jackknife position.

Then, lower your arms and legs back to the starting position.

 

 

WEEK 4 –  Workout Day 4 – Whole Body – All Barbell Day

Exercise 1 – Barbell Lunges (Advanced)

First set the bar on a rack just below shoulder level. Once you’ve got the correct height and weight, step under the bar and place the bar on the back of your shoulders.

Hold on to the bar using both arms and lift it off the rack by first pushing up with your legs and at the same time standing up.

Step away from the rack and step forward with your right leg and squat down, while keeping your body upright and maintaining balance.

Do not allow your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down. This will put too much stress on your knees.

Using mainly the heel of your foot, push up and go back to the starting position.

 

Exercise 2 – Barbell Front Raises (Advanced)

You’ll start with a shoulder-width grip on the barbell.

Allow your arms to hang straight down with the elbows extended.

You should be facing forward, with your shoulders back and your
chest up.

Maintain a neutral spine and contract your abs to provide core support.

Start the movement by flexing the shoulder, raising the weight straight out in front of you. Keep the elbows extended and the wrist neutral throughout the movement.

Continue the upward movement of the arms until the barbell is just above shoulder height.

At the top of the motion, pause briefly, and then slowly return to the starting position.

.

 

Exercise 3 – Barbell Rows

Holding a barbell with your palms facing down, bend your knees slightly and bring your body forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping your back straight.

Make sure that you keep your head up.

The barbell should hang directly in front of you with your arms hanging perpendicular to the floor.

Now, while keeping your body stationary, lift the barbell up toward yourself.

Keep your elbows close to the body.

At the top position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a brief pause.

Then lower the barbell back to the starting position.

 

Exercise 4 – Barbell Upright Rows (Advanced)

Grab a barbell with an overhand grip that is slightly less than shoulder width.

The bar should be resting on the top of your thighs.  Your back should be straight.

Now use the sides of your shoulders to lift the bar, raising your elbows up and to the side.

Keep the bar close to your body as you raise it.

Continue to lift the bar until it nearly touches your chin.

Lower the bar back down to the starting position.

 

 

SUMMARY

Congratulations.  You’ve now done all four (4) weeks of a four (4) week program.

What I’d suggest is that you repeat this week (Week 4) and then start back at Week 1 and go through it again.

After doing this entire 4-week program three (3) times, you’ll be ready for a completely new routine, which we’ll have ready for you when you complete three rounds of this four (4) week program.

See you at the gym.

Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 3

Exercise Guide For Week 3

The following workout is designed to follow Workouts for Men – Exercise Guide – Week 2.

If you didn’t start there, I advise you to start with Week 1, then do Week 2 and then do this one – Week 3.

It’s not absolutely necessary, but the overall program follows a logical progression of exercise difficulty.  You could do this set of exercises as a separate workout.  No problem.

 

Here are the basics:

RULES

**Good Form – This is probably the most important rule.  You need to understand how important this is.  Your success in gaining muscle and not injuring yourself is tied to how well you perform each exercise with the correct form.

**Do Not Rest more than a minute (60 sec) to a minute and a half  (90 sec) between each set.

**Do Not Rest more than two minutes between each exercise.

**Ask For Help from a fellow gym goer if you need a spot or you want clarification about an exercise.  Everyone is happy to help you. You might even get a gym trainer to help you. 🙂

**Concentrate on the muscles that you are working out. Think about the actual muscle you’re working and make sure that you are putting stress on that muscle or muscle group.

**Don’t Do Less than is what is required by your workout schedule. This will require mental dedication.  It’s important to complete every workout by doing every exercise to your best ability.  It’s not always easy.

TRIANGLE TECHNIQUE

The Triangle Technique is a technique that I have developed over the years, as I’ve tried different exercises to help me get bigger and stronger.  It’s been a trial and error process that has finally produced a technique that I know works for me and others who are hard-gainers.

Easy-gainer guys can do almost anything and gain muscle.  Those of us with more challenging body types have to use methods that break through the normal advice of gym trainers and muscle magazines.

Get the details here, but for now, the basics are as follows:

 

Progressively Lighter Weight

This is a technique that I have used that works for me and will most likely work for you.

It uses a different weight for every repetition and starts with a heavier weight and works down to a lighter weight.

For instance, if you were going to do a set of barbell bicep arm curls, you might start with 35 lbs. for the first set.  Then for the second set, you’d take 5 lbs off and do the curl with 30 lbs.  Then for the final and third set, you’d take off another 5 lbs and do a rep with 25 lbs.  Don’t let switching weights cause you to take too much time between each set.

 

More Exercises, Fewer Repetitions

I believe that the more variety you give your muscles, the better they respond to growth.  Doing the same exercise too many times diminishes the effect of the exercise.

Based on this principle, The Triangle Technique, you will have you do a variety of exercises and only three sets of each exercise.

Most exercise programs will have you do four (4) to six (6) sets for each exercise.  I believe that is too many and find that the more variety your muscles get, the stronger and bigger they get.

 

Go to Failure with Each Exercise

Many exercise routines will not ask you to go to failure, for fear that you will injure yourself, and especially guys over 40.

This is bad advice.  If you want to add muscle, with all the associated benefits, you’re gonna have to push yourself to failure, or almost failure with every exercise.

The weight doesn’t matter so much, but the ideal is to pick a beginning weight that will allow you to do 6 to 8 repetitions for the first set.  Remember, we’re gonna reduce the weight for the second and third set, so the beginning weight will be your heaviest weight.

Because you’re reducing the weight for each set, you should be able to do 6-8 repetitions for each set.

All of your workouts will be using The Triangle Technique.

WEEK 3

This is a continuation of the Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide.


WEEK3 –  Workout Day 1 – Upper Body

  • Exercise 1 –  Deadlifts – Dumbbells or Barbell
    Hold a barbell or a pair of dumbbells in front of you with an overhand grip, palms facing the body.

  • Exercise 2 – Dumbbell Decline Press – Chest

Lock your legs under the pads of the decline bench and lie down with a dumbbell in each hand on top of your thighs.

Bring down the weights slowly to your chest with your elbows bent.

Push the dumbbells up using your chest muscles. Lock your arms in the overhead position, squeeze your chest, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly.


  • Exercise 3 – Dumbbell Shrug – Lats

Grasp a pair of dumbbells and stand straight, letting the dumbbells hang by your sides.

Let your shoulders drop down as far as possible.

Keep your body straight, and slowly raise your shoulders straight up as high as you can.

Pause for a moment, and then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.



Exercise 4 – Lateral Raise for Shoulders

Stand in a shoulder-width stance.

Grab a pair of dumbbells with palms facing inward and let them hang at your sides.

Raise your arms out to the sides until they’re at shoulder level.

Pause, then lower the weights back to the starting position.

  • Exercise 5 – Arms – Drag Curl

    Hold a straight barbell or EZ-curl bar with your elbows extended.

Drag it up the front of your body until your elbows are fully bent.

Pull your arms back as you lift the bar so it stays in contact with your body at all times.

Don’t worry about the weight.  You won’t be able to do the same weight you do with a regular curl because this exercise is so strict…..in form.

 

WEEK 3 –  Workout Day 2 – Lower Body

  • Exercise 1 – Leg Press

     

  • Exercise 2 – Squats
    Squats are the single most important lift you can do. They incorporate your entire body and focus the work on your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. I often use a Smith machine because I don’t workout with a partner who can spot me. A Smith machine is a good safe way to do squats.

I find the best technique is not to go below your upper legs being parallel to the floor. Anymore, you’re putting too much stress on your knees.

I even suggest half squats to start off.  That works.

 

 

  • Exercise 3 – Calf Raise

Sit on the machine and place your toes on the lower portion of the platform provided with your heels extending off.

Place your lower thighs under the lever pad, which will need to be adjusted according to the height of your thighs.

Lift the lever slightly by pushing your heels up and release the safety bar.

Lower slowly and then raise back to the starting position.

 

  • Exercise 4 – Good Morning

First set the bar on a rack that best matches your height. Once the correct height is chosen and the bar is loaded, step under the bar and place the back of your shoulders under the bar.

Hold on to the bar using both arms on each side and lift it off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your body.

Step away from the rack and position your legs using a shoulder-width stance.
Keep your head up, looking up at all times.

Keeping your legs stationary, move your body forward by bending at the hips. Lower your torso until it is almost parallel with the floor.  Sometimes going too far will cause injury, so don’t go any lower than what feels like you’re getting a good workout.

Begin to raise the bar as you exhale by elevating your body back to the starting position.

  • This exercise can also be performed inside a squat rack for safety purposes.
  • WEEK 3-  Workout Day 3 – Upper Body

  • During Week 3, you are going to repeat Day 1 routine on Day 3.

    Exact same workout as you did on Day 1

 WEEK 3 –  Workout Day 4 – Lower Body

During Week 3 your Day 4 is going to be the exact same as your Day 2 routine.

During this week, you’re going to workout 4 days, so that means a Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday schedule. OR a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday schedule.

 

SUMMARY

You’ve now done three weeks of a four (4) week program.

What I might suggest is that you do two (2) weeks of this program, as I’ve suggested for the previous two (2) weeks of workouts.  I think it makes some sense depending on your level of experience.

It can’t hurt, and it might be good to repeat the same week. It was a good idea for the previous 2 weeks.  It’s certainly not mandatory, and you can go right on to WEEK 4.

If you’re ready for Week 4, go to this link. – Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 4.

See you at the gym.

Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 2

 Exercises For Week 2

The following workout is designed to follow Workouts for Men Over 40- Exercise Guide – Week 1.

If you didn’t start there, I advise you to start with Week 1, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

You could do this set of exercises as a separate workout.  Whatever suits you is fine.  Just do one.

Here are the basics for every week:

RULES

**Good Form – This is probably the most important rule.  You need to understand how important this is.  Your success in gaining muscle and not injuring yourself is tied to how well you perform each exercise.

**Do Not Rest more than a minute (60sec.) to a minute and a half (90 sec.) between each set.

**Do Not Rest more than two minutes between each exercise.

**Ask For Help from a fellow gym goer if you need a spot or you want clarification about an exercise that you’re doing.  Everyone is happy to help you. You might even find a trainer to help you  🙂

**Concentrate on the muscles that you are working out. Think about the actual muscle you’re working and make sure what you’re doing is putting stress on that muscle or muscle group. Feel your muscles as you’re working them.

**Don’t Do Less than is required by your workout schedule. This will require mental dedication. It’s mostly mental……all of this.

TRIANGLE TECHNIQUE

The Triangle Technique is a technique that I have developed over the years as I’ve tried different exercises to get in better shape and to get bigger and stronger. This is what works for hard-to-gain guys, like me.

Easy-to-gain guys can do almost anything and gain muscle.  Those of us with more challenging body types have to use methods that break through the normal advice of gym trainers and muscle magazines.

Get the details here (link coming soon), but for now, the basics are as follows:

 

Progressively Lighter Weight

This is a technique that I have used that works for me and will most likely work for you.

It uses a different weight for every repetition and starts with a heavier weight and works down to a lighter weight.

For instance, if you were going to do a set of barbell bicep arm curls, you might start with 30 lbs. for the first set.  Then for the second set, you’d take 5 lbs off and do the curl with 25 lbs.  Then for the third and final set, you’d take off another 5 lbs and do a set with 20 lbs.

 

More Exercises, Fewer Repetitions

I believe that the more variety you give your muscles, the better they respond to growth.

Based on this principle, The Triangle Technique, you will have you do more exercises and only three sets of each exercise.

Most exercise programs will have you do four (4) to six (6) sets of each exercise.  I find that the more variety your muscles get, the stronger and bigger they get.

 

Go to Failure with Each Exercise

Many exercise routines will not ask you to go to failure, for fear that you will injure yourself, and especially us guys over 40.

This is bad advice.  If you want to add muscle, with all the associated benefits, you’re gonna have to push yourself to failure, or almost failure with every exercise.

The weight doesn’t matter so much, but the ideal is to pick a beginning weight that will allow you to do 6 to 8 repetitions for the first set.  Remember, we’re gonna reduce the weight for the second and third set, so the beginning weight will be your heaviest weight.

Because we’re reducing the weight for each set, you should be able to do the same number of repetitions for each set.

All of your workouts will be using The Triangle Technique.

WEEK 2

This is a continuation of the Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide.

WEEK 2 –  Workout Day 1 – Upper Body

  • Exercise 1 – Back – Pulldown

    The lat pulldown is a basic upper body strength exercise that targets the upper back. The exercise also improves stability in the lower back and your core.


Exercise 2 – Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most effective exercises for developing overall strength. It’s a full-body exercise that recruits a lot of your muscles.

It’s shown here being done on a Smith machine, but you can also do it without the guidance of the Smith machine.

You can also do it with a barbell or with dumbbells.



 

Exercise 3 – Chest – Incline Bench Press

Sit on an incline bench at about a 30-45 degree angle.

Use a barbell with an overhand grip that’s shoulder-width apart and hold it above your chest.

Extend arms upward, locking out your elbows.

Lower the bar straight down in a slow movement to your chest.

Then press the bar in a straight line back up to the starting position


Exercise 4 – Arms – Close Grip Barbell Curls

Hold a barbell with both hands, palms up with your hands a few inches apart.

Curl the bar up until the forearms touch your biceps. and contract your biceps hard for a second at the top.

Slowly go back down to the starting position as you inhale.

  • Exercise 5 – Arms – Triceps

    Triceps press machines come in standing and seated variations. In the standing version, you place your body behind a cable machine with a high attachment rope.Grasp the attachment with an overhand grip and keep your elbows close to your body.Push down by extending and bending the elbows.Seated version of the machine (shown) is very similar but has a bar that you grab and push down until your arms are fully extended.

 

WEEK 2 –  Workout Day 2 – Lower Body

  • Exercise 1 – Squat

     

  • Exercise 2 – Lying Leg Curl

Lying leg curls are the top exercise for directly working the hamstrings – the muscles on the back of your thighs.

Lie down on the leg curl machine with your face towards the machine.

Fix your feet under the footpad resting the pad over your ankles.  Do not arch your spine.

Now curl your legs upwards by bending your knees such that your hamstrings are fully contracted.

Hold there in this position for a count of one.

Slowly return to the starting position.

 

  • Exercise 3 – Standing Calf Raise

Adjust the padded lever of the calf-raise machine to fit your height.

Place your shoulders under the pads. Your toes should be secured on the lower pad with your heels extending off it.

Raise your heels by extending your ankles as high as possible and flexing your calf. Don’t lock your knees at the top.

You shouldn’t bend, just stand up to stretch your calves. Hold the contracted position for a second before you start to go back down.

Go back slowly to the starting position by lowering your heels as you bend the ankles until your calves are stretched.

 

  • Exercise 4 – Leg Extensions

First, choose your weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad with your hands holding the side bars.

Make sure that your legs form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg.

Using your quadriceps, extend your legs to the maximum.

Pause a second in the contracted position.

Slowly lower the weight back to the original position, making sure that you do not go past the 90-degree angle limit.


  • WEEK 2-  Workout Day 3 – Upper Body

During Week 2, you are going to repeat Day 1 routine on Day 3.

Exact same workout as you did on Day 1

WEEK 2 –  Workout Day 4 – Lower Body

During Week 2 your Day 4 is going to be the same as Day 2 routine.

During this week, you’re going to workout 4 days instead of 3, so that means a Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday schedule. OR a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday/Sunday schedule.

 

 

SUMMARY

You’ve now done two weeks of a four (4) week program.

What I might suggest is that you do two (2) weeks of this program.  I made the same suggestion for Week 1.

It won’t hurt, and it might be good to repeat the same week.  It might be better than learning an entirely new set of exercises for Week 3.

If you’re ready for Week 3, go to this link. – Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 3 (link coming soon)

See you at the gym

Workouts For Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 1

Where to Start. 

If you came to this article directly, that’s fine, but you should start at Workouts for Men Over 40 to get the basics.  If you already know all the basics, then just get started with Week 1 Exercises here.

If you’re a veteran or already know all the basics, then just get started with Week 1 Exercises here.

What Exercises Should I Do?

The following workout is designed to give you some noticeable results in one month and better results in 3 months.

The Catch:  You Gotta Do them & You Gotta Stick with it.

RULES

**Good Form – This is probably the most important rule.  You just gotta understand how important this is.  Your success in gaining muscle and not injuring yourself is tied to how good your form is.

**Do Not Rest more than a minute to a minute and a half between each repetition.

**Do Not Rest more than two minutes between each exercise.

**Ask For Help from a fellow gym goer if you need a spot or you want clarification about an exercise that you’re doing.  Everyone is happy to help you.

**Concentrate on the muscles that you are engaging. Think about the actual muscle you’re working and make sure what you’re doing is putting stress on that muscle or muscle group.

**Don’t Do Less than is required by your workout schedule. This will require mental dedication.

 

TRIANGLE TECHNIQUE

The Triangle Technique is a technique that has developed over the years as I’ve tried different techniques to try and get in better shape and also to get bigger and stronger.

This is based on years of real experience and what works for hard-to-gain guys, like me.

Easy-to-gain guys can do almost anything and gain muscle.  Those of us with more challenging body types have to use methods that break through the normal advice of gym trainers and muscle magazines.

Get the details here, but for now, the basics are as follows:

Progressively Lighter Weight

This is a technique that I have used that works for me and will most likely work for you.

It uses a different weight for every repetition and starts with a heavier weight and works down to a lighter weight.

For instance, if you were going to do a set of barbell arm curls, you might start with 40 lbs. for the first repetition.  Then for the second repetition, you’d take 5 lbs off and do the curl with 35 lbs.  Then for the third repetition, you’d take off another 5 lbs and do a rep with 30 lbs.

More Exercises, Fewer Repetitions

I believe that the more variety you give your muscles, the better they respond to growth.

Based on this principle, The Triangle Technique, you will have you do more exercises and only three of each exercise.

Most exercise programs will have you do four (4) or more repetitions for each exercise.  I find that the more variety your muscles get, the stronger and bigger they get.

All of your workouts will be using The Triangle Technique.

WEEK 1

Take it slow the first week. We’re not gonna try to look like Arnold in a week or even a month.

The first week we’re going to do THREE Workouts – Five Exercises per Workout:

WEEK 1 –  Workout Day 1 – Upper Body

  • Exercise 1 – Back – Seated Cable Row
    Seated cable rows are a traditional upper back exercise.  Strengthening these muscles is important because a weakness can lead to unstable shoulders which can limit your strength and muscle gains. When you begin this movement, pull your shoulders down and back. Otherwise, you’ll keep your shoulders elevated, which stresses the shoulder joint.


  • Exercise 2 – Shoulders – Dumbbell Press
    The dumbbell shoulder press is better than the barbell version. Either one is essential for any shoulder workout.
    The dumbbell press allows the arms to flare out a little more to your sides, which targets the middle delts — and when it comes to width, mass and overall roundness, the middle delts are the most important muscle to give you a wide look.
  • Exercise 3 – Chest – Bench Press
    This is the one everyone loves to do.
    You can generate the most power with barbell lifts, so the standard barbell bench allows you to move the most weight.
    It’s also an easier lift to control than pressing with heavy dumbbells. The exercise is relatively easy to learn and is one of the staples of any good workout program. It’s also one of the fun exercises to do.

  • Exercise 4 – Arms – Biceps – Barbell Curl
    The barbell curl has been a bodybuilding staple for over a century now for good reason: it’s one of the best all-around biceps builders you can do.
  • Exercise 5 – Arms – Triceps – Pulldown
    This is the most common triceps exercise that people do and, surprisingly, it’s quite good.

WEEK 1 –  Workout Day 2 – Lower Body

  • Exercise 1 – Leg Press

     .

     

  • Exercise 2 – Squats – 
    Squats are the single most important lift you can do. They incorporate your entire body and focus the work on your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
    I often use a Smith machine because I don’t have a workout partner who can spot me. A Smith machine is a good safe way to do squats.
    I find the best technique is not to go below your upper legs being parallel to the floor. Any lower than that, and you’re putting too much stress on your knees.  I even suggest half squats to start off.
  • Exercise 3 – Calf Raise Machine

Sit on the machine and place your toes on the lower portion of the platform provided with the heels off.
Place your lower thighs under the lever pad, which will need to be adjusted according to the height of your thighs.
Lift the lever slightly by pushing your heels up and release the safety bar.

 

  • Exercise 4 – Lunges –
    Lunges are a quintessential exercise. It’s important to do lunges properly so you don’t put unwanted strain on your joints. Here’s how the right way:

Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed  Always engage your core.
Step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle.
Make sure your front knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure your other knee doesn’t touch the floor.
Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.


  • WEEK 1 –  Workout Day 3 – Abs

    • Exercise 1 – Crunch
    • Lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the ground, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
    • Now place your hands lightly on either side of your head
    • While pushing the small of your back down into the floor begin to roll your shoulders off the floor.


  • Exercise 2 – Leg Raises
  • This move will tone your lower abs as well as strengthen your entire core.
  • Start laying on your back with your hands below your booty, legs raised a few inches above the ground. Keep your legs straight as you slowly raise them up as high as you can. Slowly reverse the move back to start.
  • Do as many as you can.  Shoot for 10 the first time and work up to 20.
  • Exercise 3 – Plank
  • Get into pushup position and bend your elbows to lower your forearms to the floor. Hold the position with abs tightened.
  • (This guy in the photo is doing the advanced version where you support yourself with your hands instead of your elbows.)

  • Start by doing 1 minute.  Then each week increase the amount you plank by 15 or 30 seconds.

  •  

    • Exercise 4 – Kips –
    • Lie flat on the floor on your back with your arms extended straight back behind your head and your legs extended also.
    • Bend at the waist while simultaneously raising your legs and arms to meet in a jackknife position.
    • Then, lower your arms and legs back to the starting position.

 

 

SUMMARY

You’ve now done one week of a four (4) week program.

What I might suggest is that you do two (2) weeks of this program.  It won’t hurt, and it might be good to repeat the same week than learning an entirely new set of exercises for Week 2.

If you’re ready for Week 2, go to this link. – Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide – Week 2 (link coming soon)

Workouts for Men Over 40. Where Do I Start?

In a previous post, we’ve established that anyone can gain muscle and enjoy all the benefits of having more muscle and less fat.

For the details, read the post entitled “Can You Build Muscle After 40?”

So now that we know you can. Where do you start?

In this post, we’re going to map out the basics of what you need to know before you start a weight lifting routine.   You can use this to get started on your path to gaining more muscle, losing fat and getting in better overall shape,…… all leading to you feeling and looking TERRIFIC.

Working out can have social benefits as well as physical and mental ones.  You may meet some like-minded people at the gym and develop some friendships.

You will definitely connect with other people who work out. You’ll have something in common to discuss. Gym friendships can be a bonus.  At least you’ve got one thing in common – the gym.

Do I Join a Gym?

This is a gym workout.  Other blogs will be about home workouts.

I find that going to a gym works for me. I have tried working out at home, and I can’t stick to a regular routine. If I make going to the gym an “event,” I will work out harder and be more consistent in my workouts than if I’m at home.  This is strictly a personal choice.  It works for me.

If I go to the gym, I feel more committed to completing a workout (I mean, I made an effort to come here, so why not stay), and somehow I feel like my fellow gym goers are “watching” me to see if I’m putting in a good effort.

If you’re at home, it’s easy to be distracted by undone chores that are staring at you, distracted by what there may be to eat in the refrigerator and by lots of other distractions.

Going to the gym does not work for everyone so other posts will be for those of you who want to work out at home.

The reasons you might NOT want to go to a gym are:

  • the time spent traveling to and from the gym.
  • exercising in “public,” if you’re not comfortable doing that
  • feeling like you don’t fit into a gym culture.
  • you’re self-conscious about your body if you’re not in the best of shape.

All these are understandable. They can be reasons to start your new workout routine at home.

 

A Good Alternative to the Gym.

I’ve known several friends who found that the local YMCA or city athletic club was their choice for working out.  These are both great alternatives and probably less expensive than a big commercial gym.

Often, these facilities may not be as well equipped as a commercial gym, but sometimes they’re wonderful places because they are more laid back and have related programs, such as Zumba, yoga, wellness classes, etc.  Sometimes they’re geared more toward the person who can go during the day and on weekdays.

There is a nice city athletic club near me that would be a wonderful alternative to a gym.  It’s run by the small town I live in.

What Do I Wear?

Clothes  (DUHHH).  I wear shorts and a t-shirt.  It can be that simple.  If you’re more modest, you can wear long pants, but don’t wear jeans or anything that will encumber your movement. NO street clothes.  

Some guys like compression shorts and even compression tops.  They are useful for many guys. They’re just not essential for a good workout.

There are lots of ways to spend a bunch of money on “gym” clothes, but you don’t need to.  It won’t make your workout any better.  All you need is something comfortable that won’t restrict your movements.

Shoes – Basic tennis shoes of ANY sort will do.  You don’t need anything fancy, just something that will give you a good grip.  You don’t need an expensive running/performance shoe.  I’m sure you already have something in your closet that will work. Almost any athletic shoe will do.

NO STREET SHOES.  

How Long Will It Take To See Results?

It all depends.  You knew that was the answer, didn’t you? 🙂

It really does depend on a lot of things.

Some of us are very motivated to look and feel good.  Others are not as motivated.

Some of us gain muscle more easily than others.

Some of us can push ourselves harder than others.

Some of us put a higher priority on working out than others.

Some of us have better genes and are not ectomorphs. Most of us are either endomorphs or mesomorphs, not ectomorphs. If you don’t know what you are, go here.

Some of us combine our workouts with proper eating and some of us don’t.

So, it all depends.

If you commit to working out 3-4 times a week and do the exercises spelled out at Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide, you will start to see results in 4 weeks, and you’ll see noticeable results in 8-12 weeks,  This only applies to us men.  Women are different.

Why will You Succeed?

You will because you showed up and started this program.  The old cliche is true. One step at a time. Success starts by taking the first step. It’s a cliche, but true. That’s all you have to commit to….the first step.

BIG SECRET TO SUCCESS

Put your workout on your schedule,….. on your calendar.

It is as important as any business meeting you have, and probably more important than many of your social engagements.

Commit to scheduling your workouts.

You must prioritize this part of your life. This will determine the quality of your life going forward.

Schedule your workouts for the week on Sunday when you plan your upcoming week.  You should know what important meetings and events you are scheduled for a week in advance, so add your workouts a week at a time.

The more regular you are with your workouts, the more they will become an integral part of your life.  Once that happens, you’ll see more progress than you’ve ever seen before.

Want To Be Motivated?  Here’s a Way? 

Commit with money.  Make a deal with a friend that if you don’t go to the gym at least three times a week for a month, that you’ll contribute $100 to his favorite charity.  If you’ve got more money, make the commitment with 3 friends.   There’s some motivation!

Another technique I’ve read about is to pledge a $100-$500 to an organization that is diametrically the opposite of your beliefs.  If you’re pro-life, pledge $500 to Planned Parenthood, and if you don’t go to the gym 3 times a week you must contribute your pledged amount to that organization.

Now, there’s motivation!

One More Secret? 

Did you know that how you perform each exercise will determine how quickly you’ll gain muscle?

Have you seen a gym meathead trying to impress everyone by swinging a big weight around?  He’s not gaining much, and he’s not impressing anyone who understands the importance of good form.

It is easy to want to impress the guy or girl next to you with how much weight you can lift compared to them.  They probably haven’t even noticed you, so don’t be a show-off.

DO EVERY EXERCISE with CORRECT FORM

Do Not be intimidated into thinking the heavier the weight, the more good you’re doing.  NOT!

The better form you have, the more results you will get!  That’s the secret.

OK, Just One More SECRET

This is a secret you don’t want to hear.

You must start to eat right.  I know, I know.  I hate it too.

You can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time, but you will have to make sure you’re eating correctly.

In a separate article/blog, I will lay out a diet for gaining muscle and losing weight.

Of course, you can start by cutting out all junk food and sugar.  If you did that, you’d be well on your way to a good diet. Start there as a simple step to a healthy diet.

A FEW TIPS FOR THE GYM

Take a bottle of water – staying hydrated is important while you’re working out.  Having a bottle with you will keep you concentrated on your workout,  instead of trudging over to the water fountain every few minutes.

Take a towel – If you’re doing everything correctly and pushing yourself enough, you’ll work up a sweat so having a small hand towel will be a welcome accessory.

 

Don’t Use Too Heavy a Weight – Again, I emphasize that heavy weights don’t equal better results.  Better form and persistence are the key.

If the weight is too heavy to perform your exercise with good form, you are asking for injury.

No Chit Chat – During your visits to the gym, you will make gym friends, but limit your conversation to before or after your workout.  You don’t want to be distracted from the reason you are there – gaining muscle so you’ll look and feel FANTASTIC.  

A BIGGIENO cell phones during your workout.  Using your cell phone while you workout is a very BIG distraction that will kill any intensity in your workout.  I know, I know.  We must have our cell phones with us at all times.  Having it with you when you work out is a BAD IDEA.  Try to refrain.

 

Use Free Weights As Your Default – Machines are fine, but you will not get the results as quickly as you want unless you use dumbbells and barbells.  It’s just the way it is.

Your muscles are much more engaged with free weights.  You’re forced to balance a dumbbell and thus engage more muscles during your exercise.

Start Slow – Don’t try to look like Arnold in the first month.  You’re the tortoise, not the hare. This should be a lifetime commitment.

What Exercises Should I Do?

You’re going to find the actual exercises at Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide. 

RULES

  • Good Form – Yes, I’m mentioning this again.   You need to understand how important this is – to your success in gaining muscle and not injuring yourself.
  • Do Not Rest More Than A minute to a minute and a half between each repetition
  • Do Not Rest More than three minutes between each exercise.  The quicker you go through your routine, the more cardio benefits you’ll get.
  • Ask For Help from a fellow gym goer if you need a spot or you want clarification about an exercise that you’re doing.  Everyone is happy to help you.
  • Concentrate on the muscles that you are engaging. Think about the muscle you’re working and make sure what you’re doing is putting stress on that muscle or muscle group.
  • Don’t Do Less than is required by your workout schedule. This will require mental dedication. In other words, don’t quit early or do less than you’re planning to do.

 

TRIANGLE TECHNIQUE

The Triangle Technique is a technique that has developed over the years as I’ve tried different exercises to try and get bigger and stronger. This is based on years of real experience and what works for hard-to-gain guys, like me.

Easy-to-gain guys can do almost anything and gain muscle.  Those of us with more challenging body types have to use methods that break through the normal advice of gym trainers and muscle magazines.

Here is the link for this technique, but for now, the basics are as follows:

 

Progressively Lighter Weight

This is a technique that I have used that works for me and will probably work for you.

It uses a different weight for every repetition and starts with a heavier weight and works down to a lighter weight.

For instance, if you were going to do a set of barbell arm curls, you might start with 30 lbs. for the first repetition.  Then for the second repetition, you’d take 5 lbs off and do the curl with 25 lbs.  Then for the third repetition, you’d take off another 5 lbs and do a rep with 20 lbs. 

 

More Exercises, Fewer Repetitions

I believe that the more variety you give your muscles, the better they respond to growth.

Based on this principle, The Triangle Technique will have you do more exercises and only three (3) sets of each exercise.

Most exercise programs will have you do four (4) or more sets for each exercise.  I find that the more variety your muscles get, the stronger and bigger they get.

All of your workouts will be using The Triangle Technique.

Summary

Here is all you need to know before you can start your actual workout.  Go to Workouts for Men Over 40 – Exercise Guide for the actual workouts.

See you at the gym.

Building Muscle After 50. Do You Think You Can?

gaining muscle after 50 is possible There is a common myth that you can’t gain muscle mass after the age of 50.   PoppyCock!!!  

Can you build muscle after the age of 40?  You BET!  

Can you build muscle after the age of 50?  ABSOLUTELY!

What about 60?  It happens every day!

….and I could go on and on.

Yes, when you were in your 20s, it was a whole lot easier to build muscles, but studies have shown that anyone can build muscle after 50, 60, 70 and 80!

In fact, it’s possible to add muscle up into your 90’s  You’re saying “no way.”  But it’s true.

CAN YOU REALLY GAIN MUSCLE AFTER 50?

Dumbbells in a rack

Marcas Bamman, director of the UAB Center for Exercise Medicine at the University of Alabama states that men and women in their 60s and 70s, who began weight training, developed muscles that were as large and strong as those of someone 20- 30 years younger.  Kind of amazing because we all have been led to believe that you shouldn’t even try after you get to the age of 50.

So why has this not been known until recently?…and how can this be true?

Here is an expert from MedScience explaining what we never knew about muscle growth.  It has a faint beginning, but stick with it and you’ll hear him say that an 85 year old can put on muscle like a 25 year old!!

First, we’re gonna explore the way muscles are built.  Stick with me here.  This is important to know.

SCIENCE OF MUSCLES  (maybe a little boring but you really need to understand this)

There is a science to gaining muscle and losing fat.  The good news is, both of these are related. And your age only minimally affects your ability to gain muscle and burn fat.

Yes, it’s true.

There are different types of muscle.  For instance, your heart is a a 50 year old working out and getting strongermuscle, your eye is a muscle, but that’s not the kind of muscle we’ll be talking about here.

For our purposes we’re talking about gaining muscle, so that would be skeletal muscle.  Skeletal muscle is composed of thread-like fibers and is the basic unit of contraction.

Your muscles contract when they receive a motor neuron signal.  Motor neurons tell you muscles to contract, and the better your brain gets at sending those signals, the stronger you get.

Remember this…..your brain sends the signals.

MUSCLE  GROWTH  FACTS

musculature of a man's back

When you work out properly, you will break down muscle fibers and subsequently, the body will repair those muscles by fusing the muscle fibers together to form a stronger strand. These strands (myofibrils) increase in thickness and number to try and be prepared for another breakdown.  This causes muscle growth.

Can you actually add muscle to what you already have?   YES.

There are cells called satellite cells that are activated to add nuclei to the existing muscles and thus add size and strength to your muscle structure.

WHAT MAKES MUSCLES GROW?

The simple answer is Stress

arm muscle being worked hard with dumbbell curl

In order to produce muscle growth, you have to apply stress greater than what your body or muscles have previously adapted to.

How do you do this?  Lift progressively heavier and heavier weights, or do more repetitions of the same exercise.

Muscle Damage – If you’ve ever gotten sore after a workout, this is a good thing because it means that you have caused a release of inflammatory molecules and immune cells that will activate satellite cells which will go to work increasing the size and strength of your muscles.

I feel good when after a few days after a workout, the body part I worked out is sore.  You know you’re making progress.

Metabolic Stress is the “pump” that bodybuilders talk about.  Scientists used to poo poo this, but have recently discovered that this “pump” is an effect of metabolic stress, which causes cell swelling around the muscle, which helps to contribute to muscle growth.

HORMONES

motor cycle being driven by man with black leather jacket
Testosterone on display

Hormones are another component of muscle growth.

In particular, Mecho-Growth Factor (MGF) and testosterone are the two most vital hormones that promote muscle growth.  

Testosterone is an important part of gaining muscle. There is definitely truth to the fact that testosterone can stimulate our growth hormone responses, which can help to activate tissue growth.

This is why women shouldn’t worry about getting too muscular.  Most don’t have enough testosterone to gain much muscle unless they take testosterone shots. 🙂

WHY MUSCLES NEED TO REST

shirtless guy showing off his chest and ripped stomachIf you don’t give your body adequate rest after a workout, you will probably do more harm than good.  This is why you probably should workout every other day or make sure that you don’t do the same muscle group more than twice a week.  The muscle response to a workout lasts for about 24 to 48 hours, and what you eat in that period also will affect your muscle response.

WHY FAST MUSCLE GROWTH IS NOT EASY

Muscle repair takes time and is relatively slow for the majority of people. You won’t see visible growth or increased strength for several weeks or maybe, months, and you’ll only see improvement if you are consistent in your workouts. muscled man doing a one-hand hand stand

And of course, we all have different genetics that varies from easy muscle gain to hard-to-gain.

Folks like me find it very difficult to gain size and strength.

Others, like the natural Mesomorphs, will look like Greek gods with only occasional visits to the gym.

When I lived in LA there was this guy, who had an almost perfect body, who would arrive at the gym, do a couple of very intense exercises for about 10 minutes and then leave.  I always wondered if that was all he did or did he do this 5 times a day? Or was he just one of those that was naturally buff? It made me so jealous because I have to work very hard to look just OK.

To ensure you’re doing your best to grow muscle, muscle protein synthesis must exceed muscle protein breakdown.

This requires that you take in an adequate source of protein and carbohydrates to help the muscle cells process and rebuild broken down muscle tissue.

Now that we know the mechanics of building muscle, how does that help you build muscle?

 

FIRST – Where Should I Start?

MOTIVATION
I’d say that motivation is the MOST important part of any workoguy with worked out body open hoodieut.

It doesn’t matter how much you know about the mechanics of how muscles are built, or how much you realize what a good thing it is to do resistance training if you aren’t committed to actually starting a workout program, none of that matters.

The working out is easy compared to finding the motivation to start a program and continue with it to make a difference in your life.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but exercising is a lifetime commitment. If you want to get healthy, stay healthy and live a long, vibrant life, then you need to exercise regularly.

Going to the gym once won’t really help very much. It’s a lifetime commitment.

 

MY MOTIVATION
Each person has to find their own motivation, but there are some common ones, ones that work for those people who are able to stick to a workout program.

I personally am committed to working out because I am a single man, and I want to be attractive and have a nice body so that it’s easier to find a date.  If I was overweight or out of shape, that would make finding a date a lot harder.

Yes, it’s shallow, but unless someone is attracted to you initially, you’ll never get to show them what a wonderful person you are inside. 🙂

DON’T BE IN DENIAL ABOUT THIS. Your physical being is the first thing someone sees. Don’t limit your possibilities by being out of shape.

 

CONFIDENCE:
When you know you’re taking positive steps toward becoming healthier and in better shape, you’ll develop a confidence that you might not have if you were sitting on the couch every night with a bag of Doritos watching TV. If you workout and start to look and feel good, you’ll develop a confidence in many aspects of your life. This physical improvement will bleed into other areas including self-confidence.

 

BUSINESS/SOCIAL:
Even if I’m not the best-looking guy in the room, I have an attitude of self-importance that people sense when they meet me in business and social settings.  People are attracted to folks who exude a self-confidence and assuredness.

It gives you authority.

 

SLOWS AGING:
So many studies have shown that gaining muscle mass, maintaining an appropriate weight, and eating a healthy diet can slow the aging process.  We know the secret to the Fountain of Youth and we ignore it.  Primarily because it takes work. It means exercising, eating healthy and maintaining an active life.

 

LIVE VIBRANT LIFE:
I find that wanting to live an active, interesting life right up until the end is a HUGE motivation for me.

I fear becoming what I see in some of my fellow baby boomers, who are not taking care of themselves. They are headed for an unfulfilled, restricted future life because their physical body will constrict the things they can do. Cave wit waterfall in Iceland I would think this alone would be motivation for anyone who is over the age of 50.

 

REMAIN VIBRANT:
I have too much I still want to do and see, and I want to be in shape so I can do all the things on my bucket list. I’ve got a huge bucket list, and if I weren’t in great shape, many of those things on my list would have to be crossed off due to physical limitations.

START TODAY:

If you aren’t doing any resistance training, commit to starting a program.  I don’t mean carve out many hours of your day.  I’m saying schedule a few hours a week to start a program of resistance/weight training. It can be as little as 1/2 hour a day, 3 or 4 days a week.  That’s a great start.couple holding hands in allee of trees

A married couple recently asked me about weight training (since they know I’m a gym goer).  They have a regular routine of walking.  They walk almost every day and a couple of miles each time.  They asked me about resistance training because they were concerned they needed to be doing more than just walking.  They had an intuitive feeling that they needed to be doing more as they grow older.

They are right.

They need to add a couple of days a week doing some type of resistance/weight training. It can be at a gym or at home.  Either works.

shirtless bodybuilders showing off at the gymHere was my suggestion to them.  Maybe it applies to you:

Join a gym near where you live. Why join a gym?

My thinking is that if you pay for something, you may be more inclined to go because you don’t want to waste your money. Now, hundreds and hundreds of people join gyms in January and only go for a week or two, or NEVER.  So, it takes more than joining a gym, but it’s a good start.

Going to a gym can be a pleasant experience, and no, this scene above is not what most gyms look like.  Many folks are afraid this is what they’re going to encounter at the local gym.   Just a fantasy.

SUMMARY

Building muscle after 50.  Possible?

The question of whether or not someone over 50 can gain muscle is not a question anymore.

There is conclusive evidence that almost anyone can gain muscle if they’re motivated to start a muscle building program and if they’re consistent enough to follow through.

Whether you’re 50, 60 or 90, you can still see the positive benefits of doing resistance training.  Now, someone 90 is not going to get the same results as the 50-year-old, but if you start early enough in life and continue throughout your life, you’ll be amazed at how improved your life can be over the long haul.

It’s NEVER too late to start, and you’re NEVER too old to see positive effects on your physical and mental well-being.

I’m headed to the gym.  See you there.

 

I’d love to hear any comments, success stories or questions you may have.  Just leave them below or email me at wt@muscleandfitnessworktouts.com

Weight Training vs. Cardio. Which is Best? (videos)

This topic comes up a lot.

Honestly, you need BOTH or you won’t be successful over the long haul, but if you HAD to choose just one, here is a video that talks about this conundrum.

 

While you burn only up to 10 calories per minute lifting weights, compared with a few more for cardio, you continue burning calories after you put those dumbbells down. That’s the big bonus.

 After Weightlifting you take you about an hour to recover from your workout—burning an extra 25 percent on top of the calories you burned during your workout…..plus,

Your metabolism stays elevated for three days after you lift as your body repairs the micro tears in muscles,

STRENGTH TRAINING ONLY

So could you ONLY do strength training and be healthy and trim?

It’s possible to get your cardio from strength alone.

Here’s another expert that confirms that strength training is overall the better choice.

HOW TO DO BOTH
If you keep moving between sets, going straight from one exercise to the next, you’ll strengthen your heart and lungs along with your other muscles.
Studies show that you can get better results—both aerobic and strength gains—from three 20-minute strength circuits a week than you can from 60 minutes of cardio five days a week.
THE CATCH
Only performing steady state cardio can be counterproductive.Too much cardio can result in muscle loss. That being said, it’s best if you can do both. I’ve said that if you had to choose.  Choose weight lifting.
Always lift weights more often than doing cardio. The repeated impact of running, biking, swimming or rowing can create muscle imbalances over time that can lead to joint problems.
COULD WEIGHTS BE ALL YOU NEED?

Could weight training only be used for fat loss – with no cardio at all?  You bet.

 When you work out, if you don’t just dawdle the whole time, you’re burning calories throughout your workout, and if you move quickly from exercise to exercise and use the Pyramid Method, you’ll expend quite a few calories.
Studies have shown that your metabolism is boosted by up to 36 hours after a workout, meaning that you’ll be burning more calories during that time, even if you’re just sitting and relaxing.
This is a big benefit.
On a monthly basis, if you workout out regularly, you can burn a significant number of calories just from your workout and the lasting effects afterward.
With cardio alone, you will burn calories, but when you stop the exercise, the calorie burn does not continue.  You can get a prolonged calorie burn after a cardio workout, but you have to exercise intensely and for a long period, an hour or more.
 LEAN MUSCLE
 
The additional calorie burn you’ll get from weight lifting is the daily increase in calorie burn you’ll get from the lean muscle you’re adding to your body.  The more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body burns all day long, no matter what activity you’re doing.

SUMMARY

Even though I don’t think you need much cardio and could strictly do strength/weight training and get in the best shape of your life, there are counter arguments that say you must include cardio in your overall get-in-shape routine.

I’m biased and think cardio has its place but doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be your main method of losing weight.  The cardio that is the most beneficial to you is not the slow steady treadmill, but exercises like sprints which are High Intensity and can make a difference in your body

For now, Strength training can do it all better.

Natural Bodybuilding Diet for The Guy Over 40

big EAT sign on restaurantWhat you eat is the most important part of building muscle!   By far.

It’s also fairly simple if you do it right. Nothing complicated.

Nothing to measure. Just good unprocessed, healthy food.

This diet is for guys over 40 who want to eat naturally and workout naturally.…..no processed food and no steroids for muscle gain.

handsome older guy with lean body

What you really want is lean muscle.  You wanna look like this guy.  –>

While your workout plan will be different for a beginner vs. a seasoned lifter,  the concepts of building muscle naturally won’t change.

 

BASIC RULES

To build natural muscle successfully, you need to consider these three primary factors:

  • Training

  • Nutrition

  • Supplementation

funny guy grimacing at food

Miss any one of these, and you won’t see the maximum results you’re capable of.

We’re only gonna concern ourselves with the second factor in this article – NUTRITION – What you eat.

EATING TO GAIN MUSCLE SIZE

When it comes to building muscle, exercise is  NOT the most important part of the formula.

lean body guy with ripped absIn fact, diet can easily make or break your progress.

Food is the raw material your body needs. Without it, you will never build more muscle than what you have right now.

In order to see muscle mass gain, you need four (4) things:

 

  1.  A calorie surplus – you must be taking in more calories than you burn off over the course of the day.  Now be careful here.  Don’t use this as an excuse to overeat.  I did that once and only got fat.
  2. Enough lean protein – protein will provide the building blocks that muscle tissue is made of.  You need a lot of protein.
  3. Enough carbohydrates – carbohydrates provide the energy the body uses to assemble those building blocks (protein) into muscle tissue
  4. Enough dietary fats – these also provide energy but more importantly, help normalize key hormones (such as testosterone) that are essential for directing the muscle building process

 

SO HOW MUCH OF EACH DO YOU NEED?

skinny guy straining to open a jar of pickles

CALORIES  – You’ll need a calorie surplus of about 250- 350 calories over and beyond your daily maintenance requirements.   NO more than this or you’ll just be adding FAT!  

If done right, and you don’t do more than 250-350 extra calories a day, you’ll gain about a pound of muscle every two weeks.   Now, don’t go eat 350 extra calories a day and not work out!   That will just make you FAT!  I’ve been there, done that.

handsome man showing off eating a strawberry

LEAN PROTEIN – You’ll need about 0.8-1.2 grams of protein/lb. of your bodyweight…every day and throughout the day.  

If you weight 175 lbs. you’ll need about 175 grams of protein a day…..give or take 25 grams.

Lean protein feeds your muscles.

Having a lot of protein immediately following a workout can also give you additional benefits by helping promote faster recovery, help you get stronger, and get bigger muscles.

CARBOHYDRATES – You’ll need good carbohydrates and what you need can fluctuate based on your own personal preferences.

Carbs are needed in order to help shuttle the amino acids from your proteins into the muscle tissue.  Carbs increase your insulin levels and insulin is necessary for the transport of the aminos into the muscle.

Most guys will find they feel best on 100 grams, or less of carbs per day,   When you’re following a natural bodybuilding program, your intake of carbs will be higher than this.  I don’t promote any more carbs than this. In fact, I prefer fewer. Carbs can make you fat, also.

breakfast of eggs, bacon and mushroomsFAT – You’ll need about the same number of fat grams per day……about 100.  My personal preference is to do more fat and fewer carbohydrates.  It’s a personal choice. I love eggs, bacon and sausage.

My personal preference is to do more fat and fewer carbohydrates. It’s a personal choice. I love eggs, bacon and sausage.

FAT is a very important part of your diet, so don’t believe the hype that it’s bad for you. It’s not.  You need good fat to have a balanced diet.

The body needs fats like the Omega essential fatty acids in order to ensure proper hormonal production and brain function.

WHAT DO I EAT?

LOTS OF PROTEIN  

Even the vegetarian bodybuilder in the featured photo eats lots of protein.  It’s just not meat.  It’s food like beans.

Here are the basics that you’ll be eating to gain muscle naturally if you’re not a vegetarian:

  • Eggs 

  • Whey

  • Dairy

  • Meat.

one broken egg with yolk running outEGGS

Eggs are the perfect bodybuilding food: High in protein and zinc.

Eggs are also convenient, easy to prepare and inexpensive.

They can be prepared in a number of different ways and also offer healthy fat in the yolk.  I always have a stash of hard boiled eggs in my frig. Great snack to keep you from eating something else.   I just had two before I started writing this.

jars of whey protein

WHEY

Whey protein powder is another great way to get a fast serving of quality protein.

It’s important to use a high-quality whey that isn’t full of artificial chemicals or carbs. Make sure it’s pure and not full of additives.  We’ll review Protein powders in another article.

DAIRY

Another option is dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

Milk is not my favorite way to get protein, but it is a relatively inexpensive way to get protein, calcium, and vitamin D.  Just be aware that milk also contains fat (not the good kind like olive oil) and lactose.

cottage cheese with tomotoesCottage cheese is essentially the casein portion of milk so it can be a good protein source.

It can be a great meal when paired with vegetables.

Yogurt is also a good source of protein and can also be an excellent source of gut-healthy probiotics. Yogurt can have sugar and fat in it so read the label and don’t buy one that has sugar in it.

hamburgers, chicken and asparagus on the grillMEAT

Meat is my favorite way to get protein.  It is great for bodybuilding,

You should it stick to the cleaner cuts likeo poultry, grass-fed beef and lean pork.  

These are examples of excellent complete proteins that can provide your body with all of the essential amino acids it needs to gain muscle.  Besides meat tastes good and is satisfying.  It’ll keep you from eating something else, not as good for you.

As a general rule of thumb, make sure you include animal protein with every meal. Just don’t eat any processed meats.  No hot dogs!!

CARBS

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. You can use protein and fats for energy, but you need carbs to provide the energy for your workouts and for healing after your workouts.

When choosing carbohydrates, you will want to focus on the complex carbs that are slow digesting.

rice being sifted Carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic Index, such as whole-grain rice, pasta, whole-grain bread, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal are your best options.

Simple carbohydrates such as white bread and white potatoes are essentially fast digesting simple sugars. These are NOT to be eaten at any time on ANY diet.  No more french fries unless they’re sweet potato fries, which are wonderful.

Complex carbohydrates are what you want to eat because they digest at a slower rate, which results in a steady rate of nutrients being released into the bloodstream.

The general guideline for carbohydrate intake is between two to three grams per pound of bodyweight per day.

This, of course, may vary greatly depending on the individual.  This is just a guideline.

 

FATS

Fats are an essential part of your diet.

Despite what you may hear, healthy fats do exist!

Foods that are high in healthy fats are the ideal source for you as you’re gaining muscle.

salmon ready to be cookedHealthy fats play a crucial role in muscle repair and protection. The only fat you should be avoiding is Trans-fat. Even saturated fats play an important role in your gaining muscle mass.

avocado split showing pitThe king of the healthy fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, can be found in fish such as salmon; oils such as flaxseed oil; and seeds such as pumpkin seeds. Here are more examples of fats that you want to include in your diet:

  • Avocados

  • Olives

  • Cashews

  • Almonds

  • Flax seeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Olive oil

  • Canola oil

SUPPLEMENTS

Another item that you may want to consider as you naturally add muscle is supplements.  We’ll have a separate article dedicated solely to supplements…..which ones to use and which to avoid.  It’s a topic of strong opinions in the bodybuilding world.

 

For now, all you need is Creatine, before and after your workout.  As you advance other supplements may be beneficial. Stay tuned.

SUMMARY

 Gaining muscle by eathing naturally is the only way to do it.

You are not going to enter a bodybuilding competition.  You DON”T want to look like the guy on the cover.

You just want to look and feel incredible. (like the guy to the right). So steroids and other “cheats” are not what any of us are interested in.

We’ve outlined the basics of what a natural bodybuilding diet should look like.  

We both want to gain muscle naturally.  It does take commitment, but once you get in the groove, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll start to see changes in your body…….even if you do nothing more than follow this diet.

If you have any comments or want to add to this article, please do.

We welcome all comments, additions, corrections, etc.