The Best Workout Routine for Men Over 40, According to Experts

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Build muscle and strength and transform your body after 40 with these most essential exercises. They maximize fat burning, lean muscle development, and get you in shape.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect workout for men over 40, you’re in luck! In this article, you’ll find 7 research-back exercises for men who have joined the “40 and older” club.

It’s not something that anyone wants to think about, but eventually, we all get older.

For men specifically, our later years are often accompanied by hair loss, weight gain, and other less-than-ideal developments.

Furthermore, men of this age may begin to experience exercise-related changes such as decreased strength and endurance.

But while we can’t turn back the clock, we can remain healthy and fit at any age.

Workouts for men over 40 should emphasize mobility, cardiovascular endurance, and muscular strength.

If these key components are lacking in your exercise program, you are missing out on the opportunity to be as fit as possible during this stage of your life.

Best Workout Routine for Men Over 40

Best Workout Routine for Men Over 40

There are many different ways to get fit in your forties. A quick google search will yield tons of different programs that can help you achieve your fitness goals.

However, these programs often neglect to factor in the unique needs of the male, over-40 population.

People in this age bracket are often balancing aging parents, young children, their careers, and a rapidly changing body. For this reason, exercise programs for men over 40 need to be efficient and effective.

Luckily, research shows that even a single exercise session a week is sufficient to maintain strength. So if you only have time for one workout a week, you can still positively affect your health!

In the next two sections, I will provide a specific workout that can help men over 40 achieve any and all fitness goals they may have.

The workout can be performed as many as 4 times a week, or as few as one day a week, depending on your goals.

Each of these exercises uses multiple muscles, involves some degree of skill, and will help to achieve at least one specific fitness goal.

For example, the overhead squat movement included in this workout will help with shoulder, hip, and knee mobility (in addition to many other benefits).

The Best Workout Routine for Men Over 40

The following 7 exercises will help to strengthen nearly every muscle in the body, while simultaneously working on balance and mobility.

As was stated in the introduction, emphasizing these facets of fitness is critically important for men in this age group.

1. Walk Out Push-Ups

Walk Out Push-Ups

Walkout or “inchworm” push-ups are excellent exercise that emphasizes single-arm, closed-chain stability. Additionally, the movement crushes the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

  • Reps: Aim for 10-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Chest, triceps, shoulders.

How to Perform:

  • Start in standing.
  • Place your hands on the floor by your feet, and slowly walk your hands forward until you are in a pushup position.
  • Perform a slow, controlled push-up.
  • Slowly walk your hands backward until your hands are near your feet, where they started.
  • Return to standing to complete the rep.

2. Overhead Squats

Overhead Squats - best workout routine for men over 40

The overhead squat is a versatile exercise that addresses many different areas of fitness. The movement forces you to focus not only on your lower body positioning during the squat but also on your upper body positioning. 

Overhead squats help with balance, strength, mobility, and body awareness.

  • Reps: Aim for 8-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Glutes, quads, calves, shoulders, core.

How to Perform:

  • Using a stick, barbell, dumbbell, any other weight, or even just your hands; extend your arms straight up over your head.
  • Keeping your arms straight, squat down as low as possible, while maintaining proper squat form.
  • Return to starting position and repeat the movement, all the while keeping your arms extended overhead.

3. Pull-Ups

Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are hard for anybody to do, especially for men as they pass the 40-year benchmark. 

But the benefits of pull-ups are numerous: they require significant levels of strength and mobility, they can be done almost anywhere, and they are modifiable for any lifter.

  • Reps: Aim for 8-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Back, biceps, forearms, core.

How to Perform:

  • Grasp the bar in whatever way is most comfortable for you (there are slight variations in muscle activation based on pull-up grip. But this is a topic for another article!)
  • Allow yourself to hang with arms straight, but not “limp”.
  • Using your back and bicep muscles, pull yourself upward until your chin is above the bar.
  • Slowly lower yourself back down to the start and repeat.

4. Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings have exploded in popularity over the past few decades, and for good reason. This exercise is excellent for the development of explosive power and strength throughout the body.

  • Reps: Aim for 10-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Glutes, hamstrings, core, shoulders/forearms (to guide and stabilize the kettlebell).

How to Perform:

  • Grasp the kettlebell/dumbbell/weight with both hands, letting the weight hang between your legs.
  • With a slight bend in your knees and straight back, thrust your hips forward.
  • The movement of the weight should come solely from your hip thrust, not from the use of your shoulder muscles.
  • Allow the weight to “swing” backward and repeat the motion.
  • Control the weight throughout the movement so that it is not swinging excessively at any time.

5. Lunges

Dumbbell lunges

For some reason, lunges get a reputation for being an exercise “for women”. Exercises do not discriminate: they kick everyone’s butt equally! Lunges are excellent for the development of single-leg strength, balance, and mobility.

  • Reps: Aim for 10-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Glutes, quads, hamstrings, outer hip muscles, core.

How to Perform:

  • With or without weights in hand, bring one foot a few feet in front of the other.
  • Keeping your back straight, slowly lower your back knee toward the ground, using the front leg to guide the motion.
  • Stand back up once your knee has come close to the ground to complete the rep. 
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions on both sides.

6. Dumbbell Thrusters

Dumbbell thrusters are a CrossFit favorite. This exercise is a particularly great one, as it can be modified in many ways to make it harder or easier. Much like the name suggests, this exercise requires a “thrust” leading to a powerful, explosive movement.

  • Reps: Aim for 10-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Shoulders, glutes, quads, calves, core, triceps.

How to Perform:

There is a specific way that this is done in many CrossFit workouts. I will outline the basics here.

  • Holding one dumbbell in each hand, rack the weights on your shoulders.
  • Squat down, then explode upward, pressing the weights overhead at the top of the movement.
  • Return the weights to your shoulders and repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

7. Bent-Over Reverse Fly

Bent-Over Reverse Fly

One of the few accessory movements on my list, the bent-over reverse fly is a great exercise to balance out the many pushing exercises on this list. The movement requires core stability, balance, and isolated shoulder strength.

  • Reps: Aim for 10-15 quality reps for each set.
  • Sets: Perform 3 sets of this exercise per session.
  • Rest Time: Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
  • Muscle Groups Used: Back, shoulders, core.

How to Perform:

  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, bend over at the waist until your upper body is parallel with the ground.
  • Allow the weights to hang down toward the ground.
  • Pull the weights apart from each other and toward the ceiling, aiming to “pinch” your shoulder blades together.
  • Return the weights to the starting position and complete the desired number of reps.

20-Minute Workout Routine for Men Over 40

With the 7 exercises above, you have many options in terms of structuring your workout.

For the time constraints of life, and the many benefits inherent in the exercise style, I recommend circuit training.

In order to perform this workout in a circuit, you will structure the session as follows:

  • Perform a set of walkout push-ups.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Perform a set of overhead squats.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Perform a set of pull-ups.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Perform a set of kettlebell swings.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Perform a set of lunges.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Perform a set of dumbbell thrusters.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.
  • Perform a set of bent-over reverse fly.
  • Rest for 30 seconds.

Once you’ve completed each of those 14 steps listed above, you’ve finished one round. Aim for 3-4 rounds.

Too easy?

  • Add weight.
  • Perform more reps or rounds.
  • Move more slowly on the controlled exercises and faster on the power exercises.

Too hard?

  • Decrease weight.
  • Perform fewer reps or rounds.
  • Use bands or modified positions to make the moves easier.

Try to perform this whole workout 2-3 times a week.

Conclusion

If you’re a man over 40 and you’re noticing that you don’t feel as strong as you once did, don’t worry! Age-related changes happen to all of us. Workouts such as the one outlined in this article are great ways to get back in shape and make the most out of life. 

Enjoy!

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Professional online writer. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about health, wellness, fitness, parenting conundrums and navigating complex relationships.

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