T Nation

Late 40s, Cut to Gain?


Hi Paul,

I note your advice to get really lean before starting a clean bulk. Is there any difference between a late forties lifter and a younger lifter in terms of the optimal leanness to achieve before starting gaining weight?

Best wishes…


In all honesty I don’t advise that guys in their 40’s focus on gaining weight at all. If the lean mass comes, then that’s great. But so long as you’re lifting and focusing on overall health, that should be the priority. With age you’re dealing with a much slower metabolism and potentially a degree of anabolic resistance. It’s best to focus on getting in shape, taking what growth comes to you through training and proper nutrition, and whatever strength increases you get in that time.


Great advice. Damn straight. I love it. What’s on my mind is the advice often given, to be always either catabolic or anabolic, at least to some small extent, to be progressing. I appreciate the need to be realistic about growth in the late forties: I’d be really happy just to keep what I have now for as long as possible.

So, I’m thinking: do I lean down until I can see some abs and can no longer pinch some lower back fat ( I’m close to that but need to loose another few pounds) and then, go to a maintenance calorific level with really good food and just hold that weight from now on, lifting more or less the way that got me to where I am now? OR, do you need to be trying always to “progress” muscle and strength to even stand still?

My bench mark is my set of York hex 110lb dumbbells. I’d like to be able to floor press, row and single leg dead lift them, well, forever.

Is the best way to do that 1) keep lifting the same weight, maybe adding a few more reps (I can do about 9 - 10 reps on each exercise), or, should I try to increase weight so that as I age I “regress” back to the 110s…?

Either way I’m hugely grateful for the health and modest strength I have. I should really be in a wheelchair or drowned with some of the accidents I have had in life.


Health first. I’d recommend you focus on some performance goals in the gym while maintaining a sub 10% bodyfat level. Yes the gains will come super slow but again in your 40’s there’s no reason to be power shoveling food and pushing for mass at this point.


Thanks Paul.