Training After 40: Any Changes?

Results from a T Nation Instagram poll:

Here’s a funny thing: If I had taken this poll at 40 or 41, I would’ve answered “disagree.” Add a couple more years and I did start to adjust training.

Have you adjusted your training, diet, or supplements? If so, how? What made you make changes?

BTW, excellent article by Christian Thibaudeau on this topic here: Middle Age Muscle: Let’s Get Real.

1 Like

I’m with you… 40 not so much but, 10+ years later, after covid, my recovery is in the shitter.
The good news is… I positively busted my ass yesterday mowing a lawn. Bounced up like a 20yo hoping nobody saw me :rofl:
I attribute that to lifting. It still makes a difference!


I don’t have a reference because I didn’t start lifting until age 40. I do see young guys in the gym who train like little old ladies. I can’t help but believe that the need to adjust training is going to be influenced by the level of training intensity before age 40.


Good point. Usually, when we talk about 35+ or over-40 training, the assumption is that the person has been training for 10 to 20 years already. So while some of the recovery/hormone ideas may work for everyone over 40, not everything will apply. The good news is that if you started seriously training later in life, you’re not as busted up and have some “young” tendons and joints. I’m kinda jealous.


I think two main things need to be considered as one progresses throughout their 40’s. Not necessarily as they hit 40, but as they progress through this decade.

As with most aspects of life, the younger we are the less concerned we are about longterm consequences. My retirement savings was not as important in my life 15 years ago as it is now. Dietary choices weren’t as important to me. When I was younger, I’d do a couple arm swings and hit the bench press. But things change:

1) Balancing recovery and workload. I never worried about this in my 20’s or 30’s, and didn’t have to. Even in my early 40’s it wasn’t a thing for me. But over the second half of my 40’s, I’ve had to be more deliberate in planning off days, reducing workload, and keeping myself fresh and injury-free now and in the future. I want to be doing this as long as possible, and grinding reps, pulling tendons, and over-exerting myself aren’t in the cards. That said, some of this is relative. I can push very hard but stay within my limits, and save the “all-out” efforts for testing and competing.

2) Mobility or range of motion. Again, kids can flail their limbs in all directions with no problems. Athletes can tumble, over-extend, and bend as part of their performing. But old people? They curl up, lose range of motion, and hurt themselves badly with the slightest trip. In my 40’s, I started to notice that if I didn’t work on mobility and range of motion, I would lose it. Lots of people my age are always, always hurt. Anytime they go to the gym they seem to be hobbled up for weeks. Watching those in this boat, there is one common theme: they have absolutely zero mobility. They can’t sink into a squat, nor can they can’t extend their arms fully overhead into lockout. When they invariably move outside their range of motion when training, well, they pull something or tweak something. This work doesn’t have to be long or a full-on yoga class, just 5-10 minutes a couple time a day does wonders. Also, your warm can be your mobility. Light, preparatory deep squats on leg day. Slow, deficit push ups on bench day. Etc…


I’m in the same boat as @Bambiwithhorns–I lifted very inconsistently until I turned 40.

Something in me changed then. I became dedicated, began following plans put together by smart people who write plans for a living, and cut way back on alcohol.

I haven’t noticed needing to change my training, but like @antiquity, I do band pull parts and squats between sets, don’t grind reps, and pay attention to warm up. Mostly, I think it’s because I’m a lot less “you got this bro!” and more patient than when younger.

Paul Carter wrote about how, at some point, you just have to begin loving the process and not let your results dictate your sense of self worth.

At 45, I’m loving the process as much as I can remember, feel better than I did at 35, and am still surprised at the progress I’m making.


For supplements, my post-50 regimen has more “stay healthy and avoid disease” supps than “get hyoooge” supps – heart health, prostate, blood pressure, brain health, joint health, immunity, inflammation, etc.

Another thought: Strength and physique maintenance is a win after age 45 or so, and it takes hard/smart training and good nutrition principles.

Hot Take: Maintaining is “hardcore” past a certain age. :grinning:


I do think it’s more a question of goals, lifestyle and history than any specific date on the calendar.

As noted, goals tend to shift towards health, mobility, etc. vs. size.

We have other things to do! When you’re 20, lifting can be your everything. When you’re 40, not only do you have things you have to do, you have other places you’d rather be.

And then history, of course. Injury and health are obvious, but we’ve probably already built much of the size and strength we’re going to. The diminishing returns mean we’ll have a better time progressing elsewhere/ differently.


For me, 41, I have stopped doing ego lifts. I still do the big 3, but with less frequency and weight. I’ve been training 25 years non stop. I focus more on pump, muscle connection, and just maintaining my body builder look. Yeah, I may never make another step forward in physique but then again I may. Regardless, overall mobility into my next half of life is most important to me.

  1. Serious attention to mobility.
  2. No back squats or standard deadlifts. Safety bar squats, front squats, trap-bar deadlifts and stiff-legged deadlifts are done instead.
  3. Cardio done regularly.
  4. No bulking/power eating.
  5. All pressing exercises done with dumbbells. Dips are fine for me.
  6. Reps are usually 8-plus.
  7. Every-other-day training.

Training history. Current age: 42.

Age 11: started wrestling. Lifting and running daily began.
Age 15: started powerlifting
Age 17-18: wrestling is over. started college and training for and competing in Olympic lifting. Also started seasonal wildland firefighting. And logging when I wasn’t on fires. Kept lifting whenever I could.
Age 25-26: Accumulated injuries and my son being born resulted in no more Olympic lifting. But a buddy convinced me to enter a powerlifting meet hence my return to that sport.
Age 30: a bucket of injuries later…no more competition but kept on pushing it.
NOW: Abondoned any lift, no matter how much I loved it, if it causes more issues than not. Most lifts are done to failure or close usually with some form of rest pause. Much higher rep ranges. More focus on balance than pushing certain lifts to their limit. Lots of walking. I’m overall, more muscular, in a balanced manner vs a pile of back and leg muscle.

My knees and hips are shot. My left shoulder is always a worry. I wake up feeling it all. But I’m still fit, strong and agile…when I have to be.


I ended up buying my gym an SSB because I just couldn’t handle the barbell anymore and I still wanted to squat!


Everything you just stated is sound advice and something I have come to realize as well.


@TrainForPain @blshaw

Thanks. There’s no reason to wreck our bodies or be married to certain exercises. I think the days of pushing barbell exercises on everyone are done. If something doesn’t feel good for my joints, I don’t do it.


I did the same thing for my gym, except it was a hex bar for deads.


I’ve been constantly changing, not because age did anything, but because it’s always been miserably difficult to get any gains at all. Started at 18 and got no results for years. Did this, did that, one program after another, got trained by “experts”, fussed with diet and supplements. Not until mid 50’s was I getting any bare results at all. Keep trying stuff, seem to have tiny results. I squat and deadlift they’re tough enough to get my body’s attention.

I’m 45, for me I have:

  • Changed to banded workouts vs free weights, I feel I am getting better workouts now and building functional strength for my main hobby (BJJ/MMA). I am not against free weights, but the bands not only offer different resistance patterns which seem to trigger growth/strength in different ways for me, I can hit different angles without as much concern for joints, and its somewhat therapeutic/rehabbing as I can go into a session with some minor issues, and they almost always are relieved or at least better afterwards. With free weights it generally got worse. I am also less likely to overdo it, with free weights I always kept a check on 1RM which can punish joints.
  • Recovery hygiene has become more important than pushing the limits. The biggest thing I think for older folks is recovery, you’re not so much limited in max potential your limited in the recovery to reach it. Finding a new way to get better sleep, reduce inflammation, reduce or deal with mental/emotional stressors, or doing active recovery can catapult me forward to a new level (walking is tremendous). For example, I can hang with the athletic 20-year-olds but I don’t need to do this every day of the week, it’s fun to test myself but I no longer push the limits all the time.
  • Protein intake is huge, if I drop below 1g/lb for very long I feel it, and back to the recovery issue. As we get older, we digest less, assimilate less, and the cells aren’t as efficient as they used to be in repairing or growing so you must hedge your bets a little.
  • Life is less about hitting a new PR or max, and more about improving slower over time, and staying as functionally fit as I can as I age further.
  • I do more cardio, for health benefits more than anything else. Never been a huge cardio guy, but having a good base helps with recovery.

Great topic.
I just turned 50 and had hip replacement about 10 years ago. The biggest thing Ive noticed is decreased power. It’s possibly a function of how I now train. I don’t recover like I used to. Hard to say how much is age vs lifestyle. I’m on call at hospital multiple times per month and that keeps me up all night. Kids activities 6 days a week plus all the other responsibilities. I’m more disappointed in myself for missing one of my 3 mile walks than one of my 3 weekly weight sessions. Mobility is everything, but it’s an uphill battle.

1 Like

Seeing some good tips on here. I’m 52 and it’s been an ongoing evolution for me.

Recently I’ve been working with a kind of revised EDT…doing supersets of 5-6 reps on basics (presses, pulls, and safer squat and deadlift variations) using my 10RM. No set is taken to complete failure but I’ll work with little to no rest for longer and longer time periods working up to 15 minutes or so on each superset—at which point I’ll add a little weight, go back to 9 minute rounds, and build up again from there. Tons of quality reps, and a challenging workout with no joint issues.

Not saying this is “the solution” when you reach 50…but it’s a good way to work, and to keep progressing.

This is very true and not many people talk about it (or, note to self, write about it). There’s some pretty good evidence that we need MORE protein as we age. So, if a 200 pound man was doing great with 160 grams daily, he’ll probably want to bump that up to 200-ish somewhere in his 40s.