Bodybuilder Alex Stewart helps the 40+ lifter get on track by providing training, nutrition and supplementation advice that works.

So you have hit the big 4-0 and your life is starting to take shape, but your body is starting to suffer. The youth you once had is now starting to dwindle. You ask yourself, “is it possible for me to regain the body I once had and put on some muscle at my age?” The simple answer is YES. You can put on muscle after 40 but you will have to take a completely different approach then when you weight trained and dieted as a youth. Below I will discuss the training, cardio and nutrition you will need to focus on in your pursuit to a more muscular physique.


You can put on muscle after 40As you age the body is more susceptible to injury so several things need to change with your training:

  • Always warm up for at least 15 minutes on a piece of cardio equipment before you lift weights. This will increase your core temperature and help the blood flow for the workout to come.
  • Rep range should be in the moderate to high range. 8-12 rep for upper body exercises and 12-20 rep for lower body exercises. Heavy weights put too much stress on the joints and ligaments. I want you to use moderate weight in the rep ranges listed above. This will stimulate your muscles enough for new growth.
  • Use a combination of free weights and machines. As a youth your body is able to use a lot more free weight exercises but as you age your stabilizer muscles start to weaken which can leave your ligaments and tendons in danger of injury. Using machines lowers this risk.
  • Form needs to perfect. Your body doesn’t have the forgiveness of youth anymore so using poor form can easily result in injury.
  • Recovery time is a little longer so rest and recovery is critical, less days in the gym is going to be a must.

Those are some basic pointers you should look out for. Below is a sample workout program for a beginner lifter over the age of 40. This is a 3 day full body workout program.

Day 1:

  • Smith Machine Squats  3x12
  • Lying Leg Curl 2x15
  • Standing Calf Raise 2x15
  • Flat Barbell Bench Press  3x8-12
  • Lat Pulldown 3x8-12
  • Machine Shoulder Press 3x8-12
  • Triceps Rope Extension 2x8-12
  • Barbell Curl 2x8-12

Day 2: OFF

Day 3:

  • Leg Press  5x20
  • Seated Calf Raise 2x15
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 3x8-12
  • Low Cable Row 3x8-12
  • Dumbbell Side Laterals 3x8-12
  • Tricep Dip Machine 2x8-12
  • Machine Preacher Curl 2x8-12

Day 4: OFF

Day 5:

  • Barbell Squat 3x12
  • Seated Leg Curl 2x12
  • Standing Calf Raise 2x15
  • Machine Bench Press 3x8-12
  • One Arm Dumbbell Row 3x8-12
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3x8-12
  • Lying Triceps Extensions 2x8-12
  • Alternating Dumbbell Curls 2x8-12

Day 6: OFF

Day 7: OFF



Cardio is critical for anyone over the age of 40 for several reasons. Once you get to 40 your metabolism is not as fast as it once was, so regular bouts of cardio will keep your body fat in check. Secondly and most important is your heart. Your heart is at its mid life and keeping it strong and in shape will help you live a longer and fruitful life.

I want you to stick to 3-4 20-30 minute low intensity cardio sessions a week. This means walking or light jogging. I would stay away from any kind of running as this can be very strenuous on the knees and joints. If you were a runner in your youth, again start with the low intensity bouts of cardio for the first month. After that running once or twice a week on the treadmill or rubber track is fine. I would stay away from pavement as it is very unforgiving to the knees at any age. Remember living a long and fruitful life always comes first and without a strong heart that can’t be done.


As discussed earlier when you hit the big 4-0 your metabolism is slowing down, so your nutrition will have to be changed up a bit from when you were a youth. Extra carbs and calories you once were able to consume are going to have to be cut out of your diet. Our goal is to maximize muscle gain with minimal fat gain, so you will be eating at a slight surplus.

Cholesterol is also another big issue for many people over the age of 40. To help combat “high cholesterol” your diet should be rich is healthy fats. Healthy fats have been shown to help increase HDL levels (Good Cholesterol) and decrease LDL levels (Bad Cholesterol) which lowers your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and other heart related problems.

Check out my shopping list article to show you which foods you should chose from when you are at the supermarket.

Let’s start by multiplying your bodyweight by 16 to get the amount of calories you should consume on a daily basis. I want you to eat 35% carbs, 40% protein and 25% healthy fats. Below is a sample diet for a plus 40 year old looking to put on muscle mass:

  • Meal 1: 5 egg whites, 1 whole egg, ¾ cup of oatmeal.
  • Meal 2: 2 scoops of protein powder, 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter, 1 oz of almonds (Blend together it makes a great shake).
  • Meal 3: 5 oz of chicken breast, 1 cup of brown rice.
  • Meal 4: 5 oz of chicken breast, 2 oz of whole wheat pasta.
  • Meal 5: Post workout - 2 scoops of protein powder, 2 bananas.
  • Meal 6: 6 oz of top round steak, 1 tTablespoon of olive oil, 1 oz of pecans (Cook together).

Above diet is for a 180 lb person.

Supplements that you will use are as follows:

  • Protein Powder: I use Big Blend by Betancourt Nutrition, very high quality protein powder.
  • Glutamine: Helps with recovery. 5 grams with meal 1, 4, 5, 6.
  • Test Booster: As you age your testosterone level start to fall. A quality test booster will help naturally increase your testosterone levels.
  • Multivitamin: Also a high quality multivitamin/mineral will help you get all the nutrients you don’t receive from your diet. Magnum Multivitamins is a quality multivitamin/mineral that I use.

Preparation is going to be critical. Making all your meals the night before is something you should consider to help conserve time. Bringing your meals to work will be a must, but what happens when you have a luncheon or big business dinner with clients? Don’t fret, use your common sense. Order something that is similar to what you normally eat. Remember life can not be restricted to chicken and rice, you can stray from the diet and still see results. Just don’t make a habit of it.

There you have it. No more excuses about being over the hill, you have all the pieces to the puzzle to increase your muscle mass after the age of 40. Good Luck.

Alex Stewart is the Sales Manager for Betancourt Nutrition Supplements. For more information on Betancourt Nutrition supplements, click here.

Posted on: Wed, 11/02/2022 - 11:58

Does the carb at each meal change on a non workout day , as with in the sample menu of this article?

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Posted on: Tue, 11/08/2022 - 06:55


Posted on: Mon, 11/28/2016 - 15:19

Experience of a nearly 50 yr weight lifter...
Joints are easily hurt, as said above. You will know when you reach your weight limitations and can nurse your injuries with higher reps of low weights. Personal experience is the body can withstand 4 (eg M.a.u.l.) workouts of 1hr each over 2 weekend days and 1 workout midweek. Just remember to rest alot. Weekend days are all about loading up with lots of good food and some delicious sugary carbs 1 hr before workouts. Most of the week days are no carbs until after work and evening meal (good carbs only). That way the stomach stays flat and the body changes shape.. in a good way. If I can do it anyone can... single father of 3 children, with a full time job.

Posted on: Sat, 09/13/2014 - 16:25

smith machine is bullshit and unsafe..cmon man

mohammad ali
Posted on: Thu, 07/03/2014 - 08:55

im 48 and have lifted weights for over 20 years but now ive got joint pains so ive started doing a 5 day split
doing day 1 chest day 2 back day 3 legs day 4 shoulders day 5 arms i find this routine helps me to recover more but i read on one website that doing 5 day split routines like this i could be overtraining do you think this is a good routine or do i need to do a different routine with my age

Posted on: Tue, 01/15/2013 - 10:56


I am a type ii diabetic is there any concern with any of these supplements? I take Humalog (fast acting insulin with every meal and lantis insulin (slow acting insulin for overnight). I am 5'9" and weigh 185lbs. I have lost 93 lbs over the past 2 1/2 years. My blood sugar is usually 130 to 200 depending on diet, time of day, amount of sleep. etc. I used to bench 250lbs max an dused worked out with 200lbs bench. Due to a car accident where my labrums were torn in each shoulder I now can bench 165Lbs. My right shoulder has been rebuilt. My left shoulder has 1 labrum tear but does not need repair yet. Thank you for your tiime. - Dan

Posted on: Wed, 11/28/2012 - 08:09

I am 150lbs 5'8" male 45-46yrs old indian. I am doing distance running for about 9 yrs, was never overwieght and have almost never did regular strength training. I want to gain some muscle mass both to gain strength at the upper body and core also, to undo some of the skinniness that has come with running. I believe it would also help with my running.
How come there are no vegies in your diet? what adjustment should I do for my weight and if I am to do the workouts in the morning?

Posted on: Sun, 09/16/2012 - 08:35

I just started working out, age 45. I added a testosterone booster and I have to say my stomach fat melted off while I began to easily build up strength, I feel 100% better and would strongly reccomend not overlooking this piece of advise from the article.

Posted on: Tue, 09/18/2012 - 13:51

What testosterone booster are you using? Is there one that is better than the other, or are they all pretty much the same?

Posted on: Wed, 05/01/2013 - 14:32

what was the type of test booster you took?

Posted on: Fri, 10/15/2010 - 18:25

Just one question concerning nutrition, I am 200 lbs. and in pretty good shape, I would still like to lose a little body fat but it won't be to long and that should go with workouts and diet. I've lost over 35lbs. in 10 months, I am now gaining muscle mass. The question is; On your sample diet plan, where are the fruits and vegetables? I am a huge veggie consumer,are you saying that I should cut out the fruits and veggies?

Alex Stewart
Posted on: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 13:17

Adding some Green Leafy veggies to meals is fine and will not count against your overall calories count...I would also add some Blueberries to your oatmeal and you will be good to go