T Nation

Gym Life After 40

Happy to have you here Paul and we value your input.

What are some of your key tips for lifters over 40 with a high training age and the miles to show for it? What sort of split, frequency, volume and loading changes have you seen work best for this group?

Much appreciated.

I think the first thing that peeps over 40 have to assess, is their overall life stress outside of the gym.

This is almost never talked about in relation to recovery, but life stress is probably the most impacting when it comes to systemic recovery. Over 40 we have to do a lot of stupid adulting. Which sucks, and can suck the life right out of us.

Physiologically when we’re stressed all the time, it means the sympathetic nervous system is often in a case of being turned on far too often, and not allowing autonomic homeostasis through allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to take over for a while.

So I often ask guys that are older, what their “life” is like. What their relationships are like. What is work like. These things play a part in systemic recovery because if someone doesn’t have coping mechanisms built in to create stress free times, then training is really going to suck too.

So the first assessment before we delve into such a discussion, is for me to ask guys…how do you deal with stress? What time do you make in the day for “white space”? That is, where you turn off all the bad stuff and learn how to zone in to a place of calm and relaxation?

So let’s start there…


This is hugely important. I’m an endo and it sucks that so many of my colleagues fail to see this as reality. Sympathetic nervous system dominance is a huge issue and hugely impactful on performance. Practice of mindfulness meditation is super helpful

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The biggest issue is the stress and duties of life. I work 11-13 hours a day and try to work out during lunch. The bad thing is having to rush (1hr) which includes showering. I need something to give me the largest returns on my time. I do Olympic style lifts ( squats, deadlifts, bench, overhead press). Another issue is my shoulders are trashed from life’s journeys. So what should I do and what type of routine?

Brosef, did you grab my new book? A huge premise of it is getting in, getting the solid work done, and getting out. The last couple of years my training has been all about that. I have no desire to be in the gym for hours on end anymore.

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Hi Paul. You mentioned a new book on Instagram that was for the over 40 crowd and said it was good for beginners and upwards. Is this the Super Soldier book or is there something else coming?

Sorry to hijack someone’s thread but it seemed relevant.

Stresses of life really do play a toll. My nephew is in the 9th grade and thinks he has problems. It’s amazing how much luggage you acquire as you get older and how the days go shorter. Consulting In oil and gas right now is very hard on me so I’ve had to keep my mind active or I’d be obsessed with losing my job. So, that’s why I’ve gotten into nutrition (baking cooking) etcand even make treats for my dogs. But I’ve learned to put all my fear, stress and anger into my workouts. I have extremely good athletic genetics so have made tremendous gains. However, some days, I just have to do an extra active rest day cuz real life is too much.


The beginners book is Inception. The book the over 40 people could use is Super Soldier.

Might check book out. Honestly, I’ve got a very athletic family and I played semi pro not just college. Not too comfortable giving out too much personal info. But I’ve never had to tape my own ankle…so, I don’t know gym speak but know my way around a gym. I know when and what to eat all the macro info where I could prolly write a book. But I chose to not take care of myself. Now I want those years back but they’re gone. But I’m going to do everything I can to make it up to myself because I malnourished and punished myself. So stupid. So now I even have a pull-up bar in the entrance from our garage. When I got sick I was an embarrassment to my family. Told I didn’t deserve the last name…by a relative.

I was not aware of your book. What is the name of your book and is it available electronically?

It is an ebook. T-nation posted it on their twitter page two days ago. It’s called Super Soldier Protocol.

Hey Paul Congrats on getting your own forum, you’re one of my favourite contributors of the site. I’m 53 and have been lifting for over 20 years now, so have been reading Clarence Bass, Art De Vany, Paul Carpinelli, Dr. Richard Winett for insight into lifting for over 50’s. That being said, I have been using your Simple But Brutal: The Workout Plan from Sept 2017 to great effect, but have been wondering about the lack of delt movements (overhead press, etc) in the plan? Is this because there is sufficient work in the flat/incline presses? Please advise, thanks.

If you’re doing incline and bench you really don’t need overhead pressing work to be honest. Fill out the delt work with side laterals and bent laterals then you can rotate in the overhead every few weeks if you want.


Hey Paul, really looking forward to you contributing here; I’ve been a fan of your work for a while now. Kind of along the lines of this topic- what would you recommend for a guy about to be 40, who has been slacking in the training department for a few years, has some injuries from the military and life (nothing major like missing a limb, but arthritis, shoulder, back issues), and who wants to get back into things and do the usual- get in great shape, get stronger, not hurt all the time? Would your Super Soldier be a good fit or should I just start by focusing on being more consistent starting over? Sorry for the novel- thanks in advance for any advice.

It would be as you can easily program very conservatively and run The Shield phase multiple times over where you’re just focused on the basics, getting in some steady state 3-4 times a week, and feeling good overall. Most importantly is just to start SOMETHING. That’s really the first big step. Once you get in motion, you tend to stay in motion. So get in motion, brother!

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First of all, I really like your new book. My question, is this a good starting plattform, super soldier protocol, for an 55 year old slightly overweight man that had a heart attack about one year ago, trying to get back in shape. Thanks for any advice

Yes. I would stick with The Shield phase for quite a few cycles before moving on to the Stars and Stripes, which is loaded with metabolic stress and interval work. So run the shield phase for quite a while and milk that one for all it’s worth for a while.


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Thanks again for your feedback.

So I am juggling 3 kids under 6 years old, a full-time job and 2 part time businesses along with house, cars etc. I average 6-7 hours of sleep per night but even when the moment arrives to have some “white space” in my day, I cannot seem to really relax as I think of the million other things I can be doing instead. In the past 6 months, I changed from a body part split to a full body routine as getting in the gym twice a week was a new normal. Some weeks I am able to get in 3-4 times but others are not so successful. The fullbody split took some adjustments but is working well no as I am able to turn back the volume and I am not forced to go all out each session as I will hit everything again in 2-3 days, saving my joints and some of my mental energy as well.

Am I going in the right direction?

The whole point of your white space is to give back to yourself. You cannot be the best father, spouse, worker, etc anything, unless YOU are at your best. Lots of people struggle with this, as it’s been encoded in the framework of their thinking that they “have to be doing something” otherwise they aren’t being productive. Your white space IS PRODUCTIVE TIME because it allows you the ability to disconnect for a bit, and recharge.

As far as your direction, you didn’t state what your main goal is, so I can’t say. What is it you’re trying to accomplish?

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