So you’re in your forties, and you want to build muscle... Think it’s too late? Think again. Sure, you don’t recover as fast as you used to. And you might have a few stiff joints. But fear not: with some discipline and a dash of determination, you can still build an impressive physique and get in top shape. Especially if you apply the 5 proven, time-tested tactics we’re about to share.
But first, let’s face it: you’re not your younger self. Building muscle will be harder, and you can’t just wing it anymore. You need a safer, more systematic, and smarter approach. Up to it? Let’s dive in.
1. Avoid “sexy” training programs
Not sure where to start? Start with the basics and train 3-4 times a week. Don’t focus on individual muscle groups like “chest/triceps” or “back/biceps”. Sure, these training programs with body part splits sound sexy.
But there’s data to suggest you’ll build muscle faster if you train each muscle at least twice a week (Schoenfeld et al. 2016). Plus, body part split programs have more moving parts, so you’re more likely to screw something up.
You can train your full body 3 times a week. Later, when you have a strong base, you can play around with body part splits. Save those for later.
2. Warm up before you work out
Yes, you’re in your 40s. Your joints are getting stiff, and back pain is just around the corner. Think you can jump right into a heavy weightlifting session? Think again. Fortunately, there’s a solution. Warm up. And warm up some more.
Warming up raises your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It also “wakes up” your nervous system and primes you for a better workout (and bigger gains).
Warming up can seem boring or like a waste of time. But trust us: 10-15 minutes warming up is better than 3-4 weeks stuck in bed after you pop a lumbar disk. Dedicate 10 minutes for light cardio at the start of your session, and 5 minutes spread out throughout for warm-up sets on your heavy lifts.
You’ll be warmer and more flexible. This will help you avoid poor posture, bad technique, and the chiropractor. Do it!
3. Work out less
More bad news: your muscles and tendons lose elasticity as you grow older. You lose strength, and become more injury prone. Not surprisingly, your recovery is also slower, and you need more time to recover between workouts than your high school kids and their friends on the football team.
That’s especially true when you push hard. Chances are, your joints ache and your muscles are sore the day after your workout. You should pay close attention, especially now that you’re in your forties.
Prevent that by working out less often (take a day off when you feel beat), by keeping your workouts short (20-40 minutes is a good starting point), and by keeping 2-3 reps in the tank at the end of your sets (don’t lift until you absolutely cannot move the weight anymore).
4. Do cardio
Oh no! Your body’s metabolism has started to slow down. Lifting weights will keep it up, as will regular bouts of cardio. They will your body fat in check, and lower your risk of 26 chronic diseases (Pedersen and Saltin, 2015). Like heart disease and cancers, America’s number 1 and 2 killers.
Cardio also helps with mental health, keeping you sharp and focused. To start, you should primarily focus on low intensity cardio workouts. Jogging for 15-20 minutes, 2-3 times a week will get you started without destroying your knees or giving you shin splints. Do that for 2-3 months, slowly increasing your speed and/or duration.
At first, just taking it easy, and congratulate yourself for starting. It’s truly the hardest part. Once you are more experienced with jogging, you can start alternating jogging with running. One minute running, one minute jogging is a good start.
As you gradually get into better shape, you can spend more time running, or run faster during the intervals you do. And when you feel ready for it, transition to high intensity interval training for major gains in less time.
5. Eat more protein
If you want to build muscle, and you’re just starting out in your 40s, chances are your diet needs a good clean-up. Sounds intimidating? It can be. So for now, we’d rather have you focus on one small change to get a quick win.
And that change is to eat more protein. Protein builds muscle, it’s true. It also keeps you full, so you’re less hungry (that’s probably why people who eat more protein tend to be leaner). You can get your protein from animal sources like eggs, fish, chicken, and red meat. And also from non animal sources like nuts, beans, and soya/tofu (you’ll have to eat a lot).
So there you have it. Five smart tactics for men who want to gain muscle in their 40s.
To recap, you don’t need 73 exercises to build muscle when you begin training for hypertrophy (olympic weightlifters build a ton of muscle with just a few basic lifts). You don’t need a fancy body part split program.
And you don’t need to work out all the time. You just need to be smart, start with the basics, and stick to them until they stop working. At that point, and at that point only, should you start experimenting with more advanced tactics to build muscle.
Nick Nilsson - The Mad Scientist of Muscle
Almost everyone is deficient in vitamin D. Considering that vitamin D is a proven buffer against cancer, viral infections and other diseases, most of the population is dangerously deficient.
Unless you live in the far north and want to eat seal and whale blubber, very few foods naturally contain significant levels of vitamin D. These include oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring, mushrooms exposed to sunlight or that are sun-dried and, of course, as every school kid knows, cod liver oil!
Sadly, statistics tell us that active vitamin D levels begin to decline from teens onwards and, on average, everyone older than 20 years falls below the minimum recommended blood levels (40 ng/ml).
Vitamin D works in the expression of over 800 pro-health genes. It also works to alleviate low mood (depression), fatigue and cognitive impairment; the latter is something none of us can afford to happen as we get older.
Vitamin D has been christened by some the “antibiotic vitamin”.
Yet, I repeat: almost everyone is deficient. It’s something we cannot allow! You are at risk.
Vitamin D and COVID.
One of the few proven factors to fight COVID-19 infections, along with vitamin C and molecular hydrogen, is vitamin D3 (not D2).
In one study, published Apr 26th, 2020, the majority of the COVID-19 cases with insufficient or deficient Vitamin D status died.1
Yet CNN—which evil empire we know is on the side of Big Pharma, and out to “get Trump” by any means, fair or foul—has published treacherous and dangerously misleading remarks, such as taking vitamin D supplements “can hurt a lot,” as “too much vitamin D can lead to a toxic buildup of calcium in your blood, causing confusion, disorientation and problems with heart rhythm, as well as bone pain, kidney damage and painful kidney stones.”
CNN does not specify what “too much” vitamin D actually is and omits any advice on necessary supplementation. Instead, the article quotes people searching for ridiculous levels of up to 60,000 IU daily. It’s an old trick, to discredit someone: take what they are saying and blow it up to absurdity… and then scoff!
In fact the whole piece is nonsensical. So-called vitamin D toxicity is actually a vitamin K2 deficiency (see below).
The main reporter was one Sandee LaMotte — a medical producer and writer for CNN and executive producer of video at pharma-biased WebMD. She obviously doesn’t care much for science and not at all about whether people die or not, so long as she gets her thirty pieces of silver.2
The fact is, COVID-19 remains a pressing problem in the world and will continually surface as more than 30 different mutations of the disease strain, severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), were detected from the latest study in China (meaning that vaccines WILL NOT and CANNOT work, when a virus mutates so much, so fast).3
Measurement Of Vitamin D Status
How will you know whether you are deficient? The only sure-fire method to know your exact status is to have a blood test. You can arrange with your doctor to have your 25-hydroxy-vitamin-D levels measured (25(OH)D).
25(OH)D is the main form of vitamin D circulating in the blood and the best indicator of vitamin D deficiency or excess in patients, providing there is no renal disease.
1,25(OH)2D is the most metabolically active form of vitamin D and often measured; however, serum 1,25(OH)2D does not reflect vitamin D reserves, and measurement of 1,25(OH)2D is not useful for monitoring the vitamin D status of patients.
If the test is ordered by a physician, health care insurance will normally cover this test. However, you can arrange this test for yourself, online. Do not waste your money of tests for 1,25(OH)2D.
The Endocrine Society recommends regular vitamin D screening for individuals at risk for deficiency (which is almost anyone, except outdoor workers with pale skin, working in a sunny environment).
You want to have a blood level of AT LEAST 40 ng. per ml (European blood results are usually reported as nanomoles per L. You want a level of AT LEAST 100 nmol/L).
The ideal range would be: 40 – 60 ng/ml (100 - 150 nmol/L)
I think it’s perfectly safe to skip the blood test, if resources are limited. Just assume you are deficient. If you don’t spend 2 hours a day, semi-dressed in the sunshine (plenty of bare skin), or supplement with at least 2,000 IU daily, you almost certainly will be.
You need to correct this. Some day a real pandemic will come along and you need to be protected. In fact I have a paper that calls vitamin D shortage a “pandemic”!4
Vitamin D Does Not Work Alone
There’s a catch which is seldom referred to: supplementing with vitamin D alone risks hardening your arteries. We all know about vitamin D, calcium and bones. Historically, as people lived in smoky cities and got little direct sunshine, there was a lot of rickets, due to very low vitamin D levels.
It remains true, of course, as it always was, that vitamin D will mobilize calcium. Some of it will end up in your arteries. The walls become thickened and that is a bad idea!
To counter this effect you need to supplement with vitamin K2 (and you should be taking magnesium, anyway). K2 is an expensive micronutrient but very essential. It will literally block the calcium deposits in your arteries and will leech out the calcium if it’s already there. So—money well spent.
But it goes deeper: vitamin K2 actually aids the absorption of vitamin D. In fact you need more than TWICE the amount if vitamin D to achieve healthy blood levels, if you don’t also take K2. In fact vitamin D can rapidly become toxic, even at reasonable doses, if you don’t concomitantly take K2.
Not many vendors are telling you that, I’ll bet!
Another point: if you supplement with K2 and magnesium (400 – 500 mg) you can manage on far lower doses and get the same effect.
Here’s to bones of iron and arteries of soft velvet!
To Your Good Health,
Prof. Keith Scott-Mumby
1. Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study. Apr 26th, 2020
4. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. DOI 10.1007/s11154-017-9424-1
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