T Nation

Muscle Gains at 40 Years Old?


Can I expect any appreciable muscle gains at nearly 40 years old?

I’m late to the iron game, wish I had started earlier but is what it is. I’m 39, been lifting for a little over 3 years now. Admittedly the first 2.5 years I was absolutely clueless. I train alone so my learning curve has been slow. But after countless hours of reading T nation this year I feel like I have a pretty solid knowledge base of training and nutrition.

I’m tracking my workouts (only been doing that for 4 months), aiming for progressive overload. My nutrition is on point, Dr. Berardi would be proud. My peri-workout nutrition is on point, hello Plazma!

But I read these stories and see photos of these 12 week transformations and my progress is NOWHERE near that.

I see photos (and in person) of guys in their 40’s and 50’s with the physique that I want for myself. But I question did they gain that lean mass in their 20s and are they now just maintaining it?

Has the ship of “appreciable lean mass gains” sailed with my younger years already gone? I’ll still keep training and eating clean regardless because I enjoy it.

But it’s been a bit frustrating to eat so clean for the last 6 months, and work so hard, and the changes I see in myself have not been as significant I as had hoped.


Base your nutrition/calories on your goals.
I was 39 when I got the strongman bug. I was 6’4" 267 lbs. Now I am 336 lbs and 52 years old. My bodyfat has went up very little. I am on HRT, but nothing else.
I don’t suggest you gain 70 lbs, but 40 years old is still in the game.


You’re doomed. I would just go ahead and give up now!
Well, that is with that attitude. It is what you make it. If what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else.
There is no secret ingredient.


Not at all, my attitude is great! I love training and eating clean, and like I said, I’ll continue to do so. I honestly just thought my strength and size gains would’ve been more by now.

I wanted to get some realistic expectations from some more experienced lifters.


It is difficult to predict how much mass you can gain over the next 10 years. But this much I can say with absolute certainty: If you continue to train hard and eat properly, you will have much more lean mass (and less bodyfat) in 10 years than you would if you didn’t lift/eat right.


You can definitely make gains


Depends on if your test levels are high enough. My want to get it checked. If needed, trt would help.


Use an app to track your workouts - BodySpace works well for me plus they have most exercises in the library. Keep up the work - month over month you will notice gains! MacroTrak is a good free app to track your nutrition, although it sure is tough to figure out macros when eating out, combos, etc. I’m amazed how easy it is to eat more fats than necessary to meet my goals.


Fellow 39 yr old checking in. I have been playing around with weight for years but never got serious until last August. Before that I was doing keto and P90X style training and went from a flabby 215 to a tiny 170. Almost looking sickly. Last August I started 5/3/1 and started consistently hitting the gym and eating better. Since then I’ve bulked up to 224lbs and while perhaps a bit fluffy at 5’10” its a lot of muscle I have put on. Skinny jeans are out for this boy. I’m in that weird size zone where large shirts seem too tight around shoulders and arms but some XL if not tailored look like potato sacks at the waist. Anyways the point is yes at 39 you can still pack on quality size ! I’m the strongest I have ever been and have the most muscle I’ve ever had. Train hard and eat tons!


hey can you briefly explain to me the “5-3-1” method ?



50 years old. Started powerlifting 4 years ago.

5’9” 174 lbs 18% bodyfat (DEXA scan)

Now 215 lbs 20%

That’s a lean body mass from 140 to 172.

I’m on TRT tho. But u can put some serious mass on