Smart Ways You Should Do to Modify Your Workouts over 40

Physiologically, your body changes around the age of 40. Your body is undergoing a natural process whereby it loses muscle mass and often turns the muscle to fat. It is beginning to the loss of neuromuscular coordination, resulting in more muscle stiffness, soreness, and impacting your balance.

Therefore, it is imperative that your workouts change with your body. You should not be training the same way you were in your twenties and early thirties. Chances are, you don’t have the time to train as you did in your twenties even if you wanted to. It is around this age that you need to make modifications to your workout to ensure you are maximising your time in the gym over the age of forty.



Firstly, you will need to incorporate some flexibility work into your routine. The American Journal of Physiology published evidence that the stiffening of arteries (which increases the risk of a stroke and heart attacks) is more prevalent in those that are not flexible enough to touch their toes with their legs straight.

Poor flexibility is also linked to high blood pressure. If you haven’t been stretching after every workout, you need to be now. Foam rolling is another way of increasing flexibility. It might hurt, but it gets rid of muscle adhesions and helps with recovery.

Dynamic stretching is the safest method. Instead of holding a stretch for 20 seconds, do a dynamic movement which involves walking and stretching, for example walking with your knees high, walking lunges and arm circles.


Long endurance sessions put a lot of strain on the heart and lead to inflammation and heart calcification. Instead, your cardio sessions should be short and intense. I would recommend a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

A short but intense five-minute cardio workout four times a week will improve anaerobic capacity and cardiovascular performance, without putting excess strain on your heart. Interval training also spikes natural levels of growth hormone, helping you retain muscle mass and preventing atrophy.


By now, you have probably been training a number of years and are nursing beaten-up body parts. For me, twenty years of rugby and kickboxing have left my knees in tatters. Rather than persevere with squats, as I did throughout my twenties and thirties, in my forties, it is time to work around that sensitivity.

Squats played havoc with my knees, instead, I now do leg extensions and light leg presses when possible. It is essential to build up a vast repertoire of exercises to hit each muscle group and if one exercise is causing you problems, swap it out for another one.


When I was younger, I used to prefer using a barbell, loading it up for the gym to see, and smashing out my sets in front of a mirror. Now, when I see people doing it in the gym, I think they look ridiculous. Sure, you can go heavier with a barbell, and it looks more impressive, but it is nowhere near as functional.

Training over 40 should become more functional, which means incorporating more stabilising muscles and more core work. This means free weights, kettlebells, medicine balls and plenty of compound exercises. Think dumbbell presses, dumbbell lunges, kettlebell swings, Turkish get-ups and plenty of planks.


As your workouts change, your supplementation should too. You don’t need to chase that pump with sugary pre-workout shakes. Instead, focus on supplements that are going to improve overall health and keep preventable diseases at bay. Multivitamins, omega-3, inflammation reducers and, of course, protein.

Tweaking and modifying your workouts over 40 does not mean you are going any easier. You should still be working at a high intensity and challenging yourself physically in the gym. It just means that you are tailoring your workouts to match your goals.

Training over 40 should be smarter. You have years of experience under your belt and you are not going to waste time performing ineffective exercises in the gym. Train hard, train smart, and train well, and you’ll achieve better health heading into the second half of your life.


Anthony Hill

When you put together the sum total of my 30 years of bodybuilding training, the contests, the vast array of diets I have experimented (tortured) myself with as well as the experiences I have been through with various training partners in the gyms I have trained in all over the world, it’s been a great ride and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to do lots of personal training for private clients alongside my day job. For a few years during my 30’s, I moved to Asia and worked as the Fitness Manager and head personal trainer at one of Thailand’s leading gyms in Bangkok. Learn More

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