Most guys don’t have the time or interest in being a gym rat past the age of 40. Free time is rare, so you also don’t want to waste your time with exercises that yield low results or have a high risk of injury.
If you’re going to be in a gym or start exercising regularly you’ll want to make sure you include these essential exercises for functional strength and muscularity.
Here’s the best exercises for men over 40.
Lat Pull-Down Or Pull-Ups
Builds: Back, Shoulders, Forearms
Pull-ups seem to be a love it or hate it exercise. The initial stage of increasing pulling strength turns many away from the time tested pull-up. It’s not too manly to wipe out and reach maximum fatigue after two pull-ups. It’s just not a good look.
Oddly most don’t even try to increase pull-up strength, because they aren’t strong enough to do pull-ups. If you fall into this category, you can start with Pull Up Bands that allow you to reach a higher rep range with a little assistance.
If you’re firmly entrenched in the anti pull-up camp, you can get similar benefits with a lat pull down machine in a gym.
What you need: Pull Up Bands
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Builds: Chest, Shoulders, Core
Push-ups are another old school exercise that don’t get enough love. A good push up routine is more than just planking and pushing up as many times as you can. Most don’t realize the variety and intensity you get from a good routine.
You want to change the angle, hand width and depth of the push up. More advanced routines involve medicine balls, and declining sets that really challenge you.
Give this push-up routine a try:
What you need: Push Up Bars
Builds: Quads, Glutes
The squat is a gym staple that you should continue regardless of your age. If you’re only going to do one leg exercise this is it. It’s a complete lower body routine, that is difficult to replace. It works your quads, hamstrings, calfs, and glutes.
You don’t need to pile on a ton of weight to get strength gains, and noticeable muscularity from squats. You could do nothing but unweighted wall squats and reap tremendous gains over time.
What you’ll need: Knee Supports
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What You Shouldn’t Do Anymore
There reaches a point in everyone’s life when you have to consider the risk to reward ratio of everything you do. In the gym, the incremental gains of testing your maximum strength poses too much risk to long term injury to justify continuing.
Is being able to bench press five more pounds worth tearing your shoulder? Is being injured for the next four to six months worth the risk to you at this point in your life?
We aren’t twenty anymore, so we won’t be able to rub some dirt on it and step back into the gym in a few days.
Recovery takes longer past the age of 40. You’ll also reach a point when your body can’t recover to 100% of its pre-injury state. Meaning you will be left with lingering pain for the foreseeable future.
It isn’t time to go shopping for a wooden rocker, but it is time to limit or completely retire certain gym activities.
Maximum Bench Presses
My favorite all time test of strength, how I miss you. But it was time to say goodbye, and I don’t regret retiring my maximum bench press ambition. For the first time in twenty years I don’t have something wrong with my shoulder. The constant stress of trying to move twice my body weight, was causing me problems.
It took a full six months away from super heavy bench pressing to notice the nagging pains were gone, but they are.
A back injury is pretty devastating, not just to your gym goals but to life in general. You don’t realize how much you’ll miss a healthy back until you’re in constant pain from walking, to brushing your teeth, to just trying to breathe. Back injuries are no joke.
If there’s one lift that can change your life (in a bad way), it’s the heavy deadlift.
It’s surprisingly easy to hurt your knees on a weighted lunge, and the rewards just aren’t worth it anymore.
Protecting your shoulders should be a high priority and there are other things you can do, that aren’t as stressful or likely to cause injury.
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