Getting in shape is never impossible, regardless of how old you are. You can always engage in various physical activities and attain the benefits of exercising. If you are above 40 or just about to hit the big four-oh, there are multiple exercises you can do to get in shape. However, before you go jumping and planking, you must get a go-ahead from your doctor.
With their permission, you can then start considering which type of exercise is best for you. Usually, workouts for men over 40 range from aerobic exercises, strength training to flexibility and balance exercises.
Your fitness level, existing health conditions, and your fitness goal will influence the type of exercise you’ll end up landing on Therefore, in addition to speaking to your physician, talk to any certified fitness instructor for more guidance.
In this article, we will explore the recommended workouts for men over 40 and their benefits. Read on to find out more!
Pros And Cons Of Exercising After 40
For the longest time you may have believed that exercising after 40 is dangerous for your health. As a result, the last thing you may be thinking about is trying any exercise after turning the page on your 30s.
The reality is that exercising is quite beneficial for you no matter how old you are. Some of these benefits include:
Improved Heart Function
Researchers conducted a study to examine the heart structure and function of men who exercise aged 55 to 70. They discovered that men who exercised before or after turning 40 had improvements in their heart functioning and structure (1).
Experts discovered endurance as one of the best types of exercises for improving heart functioning.
Read More: Core Exercises For Seniors: Your Exercise Days Aren’t Behind You
Improved Balance And Stability
Balance and stability may tend to weaken with age. As a result, seniors become highly susceptible to falls resulting in multiple and/or severe injuries. Men and women over 40 who do balance exercises have lesser risk of such falls.
Balance exercises help in improving coordination, consequently improving balance and stability. As a result, you can easily move around and perform your daily activities.
Reduced Risk To Fatal Health Conditions
Exercising after turning 40 can also help in lowering your susceptibility to several health conditions. These include high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol levels, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercising can also help in improving your mood, memory, and concentration. Taking time to work on yourself will reduce your stress and anxiety levels. As a result, you will become happier and more relaxed, which will positively influence your mood.
Improved Brain Functions
Experts acknowledge that exercising for seniors can also help in improving brain function. They state that exercising for at least 52 hours within six months can help seniors boost their cognitive fitness (4).
One of the best workouts for men over 40 that can help them sharpen their mind and memory is walking..
Workouts For Over 40 Men
There are plenty of exercise programs that you can do either in your 40s.
They may be similar to some of those routines you were doing in your twenties. For example, running may be an exercise you did in your 20s but it is still recommended for people in their 40s. However, significant differences arise in intensity and duration. These two factors tend to be lower for people over 40.
Some of the exercise programs that men over 40 can try include:
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts
HIIT workouts are not everyone’s favorite, mainly due to their high intensity. The same intensity makes some wonder if these are practical workouts for anyone above 40. Researchers acknowledge that these workouts can be done at any age (10).
The only key factor that must be examined is the health status. If you are healthy, you can undoubtedly start a HIIT program. Here is an example of a HIIT circuit than you can try:
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The HIIT circuit below comprises workouts such as jumping high knees, squats, push-ups, plank, and ab lower and lift. Let us further explore these exercises.
Exercise 1: Jumping High Knees
To do these jumping high knees, follow these steps:
- Jump in place and try to bring your knee as high as you can and close to your chest. If you cannot jump in place, then slightly bounce to increase the intensity of this workout. Similarly, you can as well march in place, which then makes this exercise a low-impact workout.
- Do this for one minute, meaning half a minute of high knees on each leg.
Exercise 2: Squats
The second exercise following this heart-raising exercise is the squat. Here is how you squat correctly:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart with your toes pointing forward.
- Begin to descend as if you are taking a seat slowly. You must straighten your back and firmly press your heels on the ground.
- Hold this sitting stance for some seconds before returning to the starting standing position.
- Do at least ten squats (3).
Exercise 3: Push-Ups
Push-ups can be pretty challenging, especially for beginners. It does not mean that you give up and never do this exercise. Instead, it only means you start with the low-impact and more straightforward modification before progressing to the intense variation. Here is how you do one rep of a push-up:
- Assume a high plank position, meaning your hands are straight and directly under your shoulders.
- Slightly look ahead, and start to lower your elbows. It will force your entire body to also lower as if you want to lie on your stomach.
- Your body must not touch the ground. Instead, it should rest a few inches from the ground before you push yourself up to the high plank position. If this position is challenging, place your knees on the floor and cross them. Performing a push-up on your knees is a more straightforward modification and suitable if you have never tried this exercise.
- Repeat this ten times.
Exercise 4: Ab Lower And Lift
The ab lower and lift ranks among the best ab workouts for men over 40. It will actively engage your abdominal muscles and leave this part with a six-pack. Here is how you do the ab lower and lift:
- Lie on the ground and keep your back straight.
- Pull your navel inward and slowly start lifting your legs toward the ceiling.
- Pause for a few seconds and then start lowering them toward the floor. Do not let them touch the ground but instead rest a few inches above it.
- Do this again ten times.
- Beginners can use the modified version where they bend their knees. It makes it less challenging but still useful.
Exercise 5: Plank
The last activity in this HIIT circuit is the plank. Here is how you do it:
- Lie on your stomach and use your hands to lift yourself to the high plank position. You must straighten your back to prevent any back injuries.
- Hold this position for the next twenty seconds.
Such a HIIT program can help you lose overall body fat and improve your metabolism, mental and cardiovascular health (9). It is also one of the shortest HIIT circuits that men over 40 can try, especially beginners.
If you are in the advanced fitness level, try adding burpees to increase this workout’s intensity further. However, consult with your instructor before making these changes to such a routine.
Read More: Planks For Beginners: Put Your Core Strength To The Test
The next great workouts for men over 40 are the aerobic exercises. They entail so many activities such as dancing, running, swimming, and cycling. These activities are among the best ways to boost your metabolism.
They also help in improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your body fat. Whatever aerobic exercise you choose, be sure you will reap these named benefits. However, you need to select your aerobic exercises wisely.
Consider aspects such as your health and prior injuries when considering endurance exercises. It is strongly discouraged to choose running as your go-to exercise if you have a bad knee. In such a case, try brisk walks instead.
Experts recommend that you spend 150 minutes every week engaging in your preferred aerobic exercise (7). It means performing an endurance activity for roughly thirty or sixty minutes on specific days, depending on your workout schedule.
Cardio Workouts For Men Over 40
You can also do some cardio if you are in this age bracket. Fortunately, there are cardio workouts that you can do either from the comfort of your own home or in the gym. Similarly, some require equipment and some don’t.
If you decide to hit the gym, you can do your workouts, for example, on the treadmill or a stationary bike. Here is a sample of a 30-minute cardio workout you can do on a treadmill:
- First 5 minutes: Walk on the treadmill at a pace of 4 out of 10 without inclining the treadmill to any angle. It helps in warming up your body.
- Minute 5 to 7: Incline the treadmill to 5% and increase your pace to 7.
- Minute 7 to 8: Maintain the inclination angle but reduce your pace to 6.
- Minute 8 to 14: Increase the inclination angle to 6% and rev up your pace to 8.
- Minute 14 to 17: Reduce the inclination angle by 2% and also slow down to a pace of 5 (2).
- Minute 17 to 19: Increase the inclination to 5% and your pace to 7.
- Minute 19 to 20: Maintain the angle but reduce your pace to 6.
- Minute 20 to 21: Reduce your inclination to 2% and rev your pace to 9.
- Minute 21 to 23: Increase the angle to 4% but reduce your pace to 5.
- Minute 23 to 25: Increase your pace to 7 and inclination angle to 5%
- Minute 25 to 26: Still at the same angle, slow down to a pace of 6.
- Minute 26 to 30: Slow down your pace to 4 without any inclination angle.
Strength Training Workouts For Men Over 40
Strength training is vital for older adults, as it helps prevent injuries and assist with quick recoveries (5). As you age, you lose muscle and tend to suffer from muscular and skeletal problems.
You, thereby, become highly susceptible to conditions such as osteoporosis. Strength training exercises can help you recover and maintain your muscles. Here are examples of some of the best muscle building workouts for men over 40:
- Hammer curls: These exercises can help in building arm muscle. The key is using dumbbells of convenient weight such that they are not either too light or overbearing.
- Bench press: This exercise targets your chest muscles. Your trainer will help pick a practical load as well as supervise you while doing it.
- Leg Press: The leg presses work your leg muscles. Whether you are a beginner or in the advanced fitness level, it is vital to perform this exercise under supervision.
- Deadlift: The following muscle-building exercise targets your glutes and hamstrings (8). Of utmost importance while performing the deadlift is maintaining the correct body posture. Otherwise, you run the risk of harming yourself.
Leisure Sports For Men Over 40
Besides cardio and HIIT programs, you can also participate in leisure sports to keep fit. Activities such as boxing and spinning also work out various muscles in your body. All you have to do is determine with your trainer the sport you should undertake.
You can start by attending different classes until you identify the most appropriate one for you. Remember to make it a habit and add it to your routine for maximum benefit (6).
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Easing Into Exercise After 40
Unlike in your 20s, exercising after you turn 40 is challenging. At this age, a lot has happened that can influence your physical ability, including your body and energy levels. Of course, you have aged, and your energy levels have, in most cases, reduced.
Therefore, it means that you cannot exercise regularly or at the same intensity as before. Here are some strategies that can help you ease your way into fitness after 40:
Exercising for seniors is more comfortable when a professional is involved. It would help if you had professional guidance to determine suitable workouts for you, depending on your health, age, fitness level, and goals. So, involve your fitness coach when you decide to start exercising.
Remember that you are only doing this to better yourself and not impress someone else.
Try starting small in terms of the intensity and duration and work yourself up the ladder (11). For example, you can begin by taking brisk walks before you start jogging or running. It will help in preparing you both mentally and physically.
Similarly, it will save you from injuries that may occur from the abrupt execution of the strenuous exercises. This concept raises another question about how much exercise men over 40 are required to do.
There is no specific guide on how much exercise you can do at this age. Instead, it is determined by your physician depending on your health, age bracket, fitness and activity levels, and goals.
The best way you can sustain your exercise routine is by planning. Anticipate for lazy, busy, and rest days. You must have a rest day to help your muscles recover. Rest days also help in boosting your workout morale and motivation.
Similarly, plan for how your workout routine will fit in your schedule. It must fit perfectly without compromising any other activity. It is better off if you schedule exercising during your free time. This way, you do not have to squeeze in or postpone other activities.
Vary Your Exercise Programs
There are numerous types of exercises you can choose to perform. You can select cardio, strength training, stretching, or balance exercises. If your workout coach gives you the go-ahead to try any, do not tie yourself down to one program.
Instead, vary your programs, especially if you are in the experimental phase (7). In this phase, you are free to change between yoga, HIIT, weights, and leisure sports. It is the only way you will determine what works for you and what doesn’t.
The Bottom Line
The workouts for men over 40 are many. They range from strength training exercises, balance, cardio, to HIIT and leisure sport exercises. The key is to stick to the recommended routine and avoid those not recommended by your instructor. They may be dangerous for your health or not practical, depending on your fitness goals.
The following piece is meant for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor and fitness instructor before you start any exercise program.
- 40 Isn’t Too Old To Start Intensive Exercise (2015, webmd.com)
- 4 Must-Try Cardio Workouts (2014, webmd.com)
- A 15-minute full body HIIT workout-no equipment required (2019, nbcnews.com)
- How much should seniors exercise to improve brain function? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to build muscle with exercise (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How to get fit after 40 (2016, theguardian.com)
- Stay fit at any age (2016, mayoclinic.org)
- Top Muscle-Building Moves for Men (2019, webmd.com)
- What are the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT)? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why interval training may be the best workout at any age (2017, mayoclinic.org)
- Yes, You Can Do That at Your Age (2015, webmd.com)