Muscle for life

How to Build Muscle in Your 40s and Beyond

How to Build Muscle in Your 40s and Beyond

Many people in their 40s and beyond worry that it’s too late to build any real muscle. Fortunately for them, they’re wrong!


Every week I get emailed by at least a few guys that ask if it’s too late to build muscle and get fit.

Most are very pleasantly surprised when I explain that it’s most definitely NOT too late, and that I’m regularly working with guys in their 50s and even 60s who are rapidly building muscle and getting into the best shape of their lives.

How should people in their 40s and beyond go about building muscle, though? Certainly they can’t train and eat like the 20-year-olds, right?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that not nearly as much changes as people think.

Let’s look at the details.

Scientific Proof That the Middle-Aged Can Build Plenty of Muscle

how to build muscle for men over 40

One of the first things I refer people worried about age squashing their dreams of being fit is a study conducted by the University of Oklahoma.

In this study, 24 college-aged (18 – 22) and 25 middle-aged (35 – 50) men followed the same weightlifting routine for 8 weeks.

Researchers used DEXA scans for pre- and post-routine measurements, and they found that the middle-aged men built just as much as their college-aged counterparts! 

In fact, the middle-aged men built a little more on average, but it wasn’t enough to be statistically significant.

Strength gains were comparable as well:

  • The middle-aged men gained an average of 14 pounds of strength on the bench press, and 40 pounds on the leg press.
  • The college-aged men gained an average of 7 pounds of strength on the bench press, and 55 pounds on the leg press.

People 60 and beyond aren’t left out of the party, either.

Research has shown that they too can build significant amounts of muscle and strength, and that doing so is actually a great way to fight the “dwindling health spiral” normally associated with aging.

These findings agree with my experiences working with hundreds of men and women aged 40 – 70. One for one they are able to build visible muscle, get lean, and improve their overall health and well-being. In many cases, they’re able to get into the best shape of their lives.

The bottom line is you can get into great shape at any age.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Training Tips for the Middle-Aged

old man build muscle

If you’re middle-aged and excited to learn that it’s not too late, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to go about it.

Fortunately, age doesn’t change much in terms of routine, but there are a few points you should know.

Heavy, compound lifting is the absolute best way to build muscle and strength. But it also demands a lot from your body–it causes considerable damage to your muscle fibers and places a large load on the joints.

You shouldn’t be afraid of heavy weightlifting, even if you’re in your 50s or 60s, but if you’re not an experienced weightlifter, I recommend you start your training in the 8 – 10 rep range and stay there until exercises feel very comfortable.

You can then move into 6 – 8 rep range and work with that until it feels completely stable and comfortable. You can then move into the 4 – 6 rep range, which I recommend in my Bigger Leaner Stronger program, but it’s not mandatory. You have to see how your body feels.

  • Don’t ignore back, knee, shoulder, or other such issues.

If you have any lower back issues, don’t Deadlift unless instructed to do so by a physical therapist. The same goes for knee issues and squatting, and shoulder issues and pressing (both Bench and Military Press).

Work around such limitations–don’t try to blast through them, or you may wind up injured and out of the gym for months.

  • Make sure you get adequate rest.

Recovery is a huge part of making gains in the gym–both muscle recovery and systemic recovery. If you neglect it and try to go all-out with your exercise, 7 days per week, you’ll just wind up overtrained.

While age actually doesn’t impair the recovery process nearly as much as some people think, research has shown that aging can make recovery take longer.

The solution is simple: make sure you get plenty of sleep, eat enough protein, and take a week off the weights every 6 – 8 weeks.

Diet Tips for the Middle-Aged

building muscle mass in older men

I have some good new for you:

Don’t worry about your metabolism–it’s fine.

A common worry among middle-aged people is that their metabolisms have slowed to a crawl, making weight loss or muscle growth nearly impossible. This isn’t true.

It’s true that aging causes some metabolic slowdown, but much of it is actually caused by the loss of lean mass (muscle)

Muscle burns calories, and we naturally lose muscle as we age, so our bodies burn less and less calories over time. The good news is that you can totally reverse this process with regular resistance training–it is NOT inevitable, nor “incurable.”

So, if you’re looking to lose some fat, so long as you don’t have a serious metabolic impairment (like metabolic syndrome), you will simply do what we all do to lose weight:


Do you agree with this article? Have anything else you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • The 7 biggest muscle building myths & mistakes that keep guys small, weak, and frustrated. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • How to build meal plans that allow you to build muscle, lose fat, and get healthy with ease…eating foods you love (yes, including those deemed “unclean” by certain “gurus”)…and never feeling starved, deprived, or like you’re “on a diet.”
  • The 5 biggest fat loss myths & mistakes that keep women overweight, disappointed, and confused. (These BS lies are pushed by all the big magazines and even by many trainers.)
  • An all-in-one training system that delivers MAXIMUM results for your efforts…spending no more than 3 to 6 hours in the gym every week…doing workouts that energize you, not wipe you out.
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The bottom line is you CAN achieve that “Hollywood body" without having your life revolve around it. No long hours in the gym, no starving yourself, and no grueling cardio that turns your stomach.

My book will show you how. Get it today and let’s build a body you can be proud of.

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  • kikodeivid

    I’ve learned that we all start at a different spot. What matters is to keep going. Coming from an underdeveloped country I always get the inspirational words from friends and family: “Oh you want to be an athlete after being old (35).” I smile and ignore them.

    • Michael Matthews

      Very true, and you can do great things with your physique at 35. Ignore the haters. 😉

      • JC

        Hey Mike, being 43 and only getting into shape now, i find it hard not only to lift heavy but also to clean up my diet and know exactly what kind of foods to be eating. I do have your books but it seems like i am having issues getting going on figuring out ratios of protein, fats and carbs. Also how do i figure out how much weight to start with? Your articles are fantastic and show your passion for this art.

        • Michael Matthews

          Thanks for your support JC!

          I understand. Remember you can start simple and build up. So you could start with just cutting out the junk and lifting. Then once that feels comfortable, move to creating an actual meal plan that meets your daily needs.

          Here are a few examples of meal plans we make for people. They should help you:


          Regarding your lifting, you just learn your weights through trial and error for the first week or so. You can also work in the 6-8 or even 8-10 rep range for the first couple of weeks so you can get a feel for everything.

          Hope this helps!

          • London Bill

            Like most of the articles here, I am in complete agreement with the content. As a 56 year old tall and over weight guy, I had to have a hip and knee replacement due to a lot of distance running and squash when I was younger. I used to think that cardio was the answer to everything, but after a year and half of doing free weights and weight machines, I am delighted at what progress can be made using common sense and following/ adapting the workouts found here.

            Instead of the kind of pitying looks I used to get from the younger guys, I an definitely sense some respect and even a hint of admiration. I would also like to add that rowing is a great form of cardio that benefits lower and upper body while not stressing knees/ hips.

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks Bill!

            Yeah strength training is a revelation to many people that never really pursued it in the past.

            Rowing is great cardio. I agree.

  • Great post. I run into guys all the time who are much younger than 40 (late 20s, early 30s) who believe their muscle building days are over.

    What alternative exercises do you suggest for those unable to do squat, deadlift or bench?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sam! Yeah I get a lot of emails from guys that think it’s too late when it’s most definitely not.


      Squat: Leg press, lunge (DB or BB), leg extension, leg curl, hack squat (sled, not barbell), front squat (sometimes this handles issues guys have with back squats), pistol squat, goblet squat.

      Dead: Barbell row, t-bar row.

      Bench: DB press, Smith Machine bench, hammer strength press.

  • Scott

    I’m 45 and changed my whole routine and diet in January. Went from 205 and 25% bf to 178 and 9% bf. So gained about 6 to 7 pounds of muscle. Not a newbie either. Been lifting for 30 years.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, amazing! Was this accomplished with my program or?

      • Scott

        I started out with p90x and followed a 2000 calorie diet of 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat which worked well. I lost 17 lbs in 3 months. Then I discovered and followed Greg O’gallager’s Kinobody program where I would lift 3 times a week heavy in 4 to 6 rep range and discovered I didn’t need a hour of p90x 6 days a week to get results. I then learned about you from one of Greg’s pod casts and between the two of you realized that a calorie is a calorie and I could put on muscle or lose fat with the manipulation of my diet. I always wanted to get in great shape but not have it be a miserable experience which I’ve learned can be done by following you programs! I really love what I eat everyday and I have eaten ice cream everyday for 6 months. I do “carb Sunday” where I eat French toast or pancakes and pasta and bagels all day and get the majority of my macros from carbs. So to answer your question Yes and no. I did move from 12% bf to 9% from learning from you! I went in a 500 calorie deficit (which includes calories from exercise) and threw in 3 days of HIIT training on top of 3 days of lifting. My HIIT is short too only 15 min. I do 1 min sprints with a 1 min walk for 6 to 7 cycles or I’ll do heavy bag the same way, biking or jump rope. Works great and all are fun.

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s awesome, great job and keep up the good work.

          I also ensure I eat foods I like every day, have a small dessert every day (a coconut ice cream snack of some kind as daily dairy starts to upset my stomach), and do a high-carb Sunday (but not as fun as yours, haha).

          It really is this simple.

          • Scott

            yes it really is. It takes some time to track your food and watch what you’re eating you can’t just wing it, but if you put a little effort into it its not extremely hard to get the results.

          • Michael Matthews

            Yup, exactly.

            In reality you can wing it once you get a feel for foods if you want to just hang out in the 10-12% range. But maintaining sub-10% definitely requires sticking to the plan.

  • Mike

    Saw this workout tracker, thought you might be interested, http://mashable.com/2013/10/09/push-indiegogo/

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice, thanks!

  • LuckBox1970

    Any thoughts on sleep aids Mike?? My doctor went to a sleep conference at Stanford and believes lack of sleep is a serious health problem in the U.S. — as you know, cell reproduction and general health are better with more sleep/rest. He suggested I try some prescription sleep aids, including ambien (which has various doses — from lighter to stronger). Ambien did add 30-45 mins of sleep in my situation. I went a few months of that and then just stopped when my prescription ran out. I am not taking them now but I am considering reloading next time I go back for my physical (every few years). Ambien has a pretty bad name in the general public — general perception is that it is a very serious drug — and very addictive — and that may be but wasn’t really my experience. I have been going a year without them now. But according to my doctor, it is better to take the sleep aid and get more sleep for cell health.

    • Michael Matthews

      Your doc is right about sleep’s importance but is an asshole for going straight to drugs.

      Check out this article of mine:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /help-i-cant-sleep-effects-of-sleep-deprivation-and-natural-cures-for-insomnia/

  • Tim Habas

    Thanks for this article, Mike. I’m living proof that it’s never too late to start. I didn’t start lifting until I was 48 and now at 52 I can honestly say that I’m in the better shape than I was 30 years ago.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Tim! That’s awesome. Keep up the good work. 🙂

  • Mark DeSantis

    What about somebody with diabetes, while not technically metabolic syndrome (?), I still wonder if it is safe. They say that more lean muscle and less body fat helps control diabetes beter that medications. Can I, as a diabetic and at 42 do this safely?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yes, building muscle and losing fat can make a HUGE difference. Especially when combined with healthy eating. I would recommend a lower carb approach too (.5 – .75 grams per pound of body weight).

  • Jack

    Good to read , at 45 using the BLS programme I’m down from 192lbs to 174lbs and 14% body fat all good, now looking to bulk up for a few weeks,what I have found at around 6 to 8 weeks aches and tiredness start to take effect so I like to take a full weeks rest were as my 21 year old training partner has no problems and rests at around 12 weeks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, great job Jack! That’s awesome. Yup, the rest week is very important. I take a week off every 10-12 weeks and just get a little extra sleep (I lift early in the morning). Body feels great after 3-4 days of that.

  • Bill Maslen

    Yup, it’s true. I’m 52, but in pretty good shape considering I only train on average 25 minutes a day. What I have noticed is that (a) it takes longer to recover and (b) it takes longer to warm up! And (c) any injuries take (much) longer to heal. Fortunately I’ve found the perfect antidote for the many chronic postural issues that cause injuries in older athletes; the book ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard’ by Dr. Kelly Starrett. But sensible nutrition, hard work and reading the latest fitness research are the keys to enjoying an aging body. I very much enjoy your articles, Mike, even though I don’t have the facilities to engage in full weight-training program (a couple of 20kg dumbells comprise most of my equipment, together with a chin-up bar and a certain knack for making up painful bodyweight exercises!). Keep up the good work!

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Bill, thanks for sharing.

      BSL by Starrett is great, and I’m really glad you enjoy my work.

      Have you seen this article of mine? You might like it.

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

  • Snarky Marky

    Good to read this. I’m 52 – but most people that meet me believe I’m in my early 40s. Over the past 9 months, I’m become much more lean and sinewy. My weight has dropped from 165 to 155. I’ve got ripped abs (and even young guys remark). I’m looking to add muscle mass (I think I’d like to be about 160ish, but I do have trouble maintaining the mass. When I was around 30 I was in similar shape but found it difficult to keep the bulk on my body.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mark. Awesome on your fitness.

      Gaining and keeping an extra 5 lbs muscle wouldn’t be too tough. Would just require proper eating and lifting.

      Lemme know if you’re interested in doing it. I can help.

  • Sandy

    I am 44 (female) and started your program 14 weeks ago. I am 11 pounds down whilst eating more than I have been able to for some time. My metabolism seemed to have gradually slowed to a crawl over the last few years. If I can just encourage people, the very week I started your training program, I was able to eat more and yet I started to lose the weight I had been trying to lose for some years. I had no idea the weight training would be so effective so quickly. I lift weights 3 times a week, but I cover most of the exercises in your weekly plan. I highly recommend it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow great job Sandy! That’s amazing.

      I’ve had quite a few women experience the same–start exercising properly, but not necessarily MORE, and start eating more, and lose weight. Sounds like black magic, haha.

      Keep up the good work and shoot me an email if you’d like to be featured as a success story once you reach your goal. I’d love to have you on the site!

  • Kevin

    It’s great to see an article like this. I’m 62 and in the best shape of my life. I’m not a big guy – 5’10” 140lbs, but I’m almost all muscle, with nice definition and less than 10% body fat. Because my body is almost entirely muscle, I can eat a lot of food. I consume between 2,700 and 3,500 calories a day of good, healthy food. I lift weights, walk, bike ride, climb, hike or swim every day. I enjoy moving! I refuse to sit around and become fat and immobile! Two years ago I looked like I had a basketball under my shirt. It’s never too late to get back in shape.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kevin. Great on your stats. Being lean is where it’s at. 🙂

      Great on your caloric intake as well. That’s the same as me, and I’m 29. Metab does NOT have to go to hell as you age…

      Keep up the good work.

    • DC Fixx

      Hi All! I’ve played around in the gym since I was 16 and have had fairly
      satisfying results without taking things as seriously as I should. I’ll
      be 39 in a few months and though I still lift weights and am still
      bigger and in better shape than most guys 15 years younger, I’m not
      blind to the horizon and it’s those like Kevin who inspire me! Thanks,
      “Old Dudes”, lol.

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks for posting brother! Keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Dennis

    Mike- It is certainly is doable at any age. I am 54 and you have cost me $2500 in the past 6 months. Also, it is now a running joke in the family that my wife keeps shrinking all my shirts (t shirts, polos and button-down) in the laundry. Because of you (or BLS), which I have been following closely now for six 10-week cycles (a little more than a year), I have replaced 3 suits, 3 sport jackets and many, many dress shirts and pants. I have not cut yet, it is all bulking with nearly 30 lb gain and am now at 205. I have never been this heavy before but I love it. I am now having shoulder issues but seeking treatment. Thanks.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hahah sorry about the wardrobe costs. 😉

      Amazing job on your progress though. That’s awesome.

      What’s going on with your shoulder?

      • Dennis

        Both physician and chiropractor agree that is very tight muscle in the chest and lower traps constantly pulling the shoulders backward. Deep tissue massage and plenty of stretching is helping.

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay, that’s good. Glad to hear it’s nothing serious.

  • David Gibb

    Hi Michael, great article on the 40+ issue. I’m 51 and been back in the gym trying to build for 4 years now. Have historically been a mountain biker weighing in at 72kgs, fit as hell! Decided to give that a break and hit the gym again, have gained muscle and now weigh 84kgs. Have a reasonably good diet, I’m lean, fit (still some cardio) and focused but have been struggling to put on size for sometime now. Slowed my cardio down and continued to weight train as I always was… 12 – 15 reps of everything, believed I was going to get some size until i changed my training to HEAVY with between 6 – 8 reps, what a change, I have noticed how much stronger I’m getting. Just bought your book…Bigger Leaner Stronger, hope I can get to the 90kg of lean muscle soon!! Cheers man – great to see and experience your passion!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks David!

      Wow awesome on your gains so far. That rocks. And that’s great you’re used to heavy lifting, because that’s exactly what I teach in BLS. Even heavier, actually (4 – 6).

      If you want to see how your body responds before making a full change, you could work 4-6 rep sets into your current routine. Do the 4-6 stuff first and then the 6-8.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know!

  • Guest

    Great article certainly made me feel better 🙂

    I spend 6 days a week in the gym. 3 days cardio, 3 days weights. I only keep half an eye on my diet, because I love good quality food + red wine (only weekends). Supplements; Fish oil, Green Tea Extract, CLA, Glucosamine & Chondroitin, Creatine & Multi vitamins. Drink one protein shake + eat a banana before I hit the gym.
    I’m 6.4ft tall and weigh 210lbs. Body fat no idea but stomach is looking a lot flatter.

    When you get older you can become more determined and motivated to succeed with certain things. I think keeping fit is a pretty good example of this.

    I’m 52 this coming Saturday and the muscle are growing.

  • Great Dane

    Great article certainly made me feel better 🙂

    I spend 6 days a week in the gym. 3 days cardio, 3 days weights. I only keep half
    an eye on my diet, because I love good quality food + red wine (only
    weekends). Supplements; Fish oil, Green Tea Extract, CLA, Glucosamine
    & Chondroitin, Creatine & Multi vitamins. Drink one protein
    shake + eat a banana before I hit the gym.

    I’m 6.4ft tall and weigh 210lbs. Body fat no idea but stomach is looking a lot flatter.

    When you get older you can become more determined and motivated to succeed with certain things. I think keeping fit is a pretty good example of
    I’m 52 this coming Saturday and the muscles are growing.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Dane!

      Great on what you’re doing–I like it. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Ken H

    Thanks for the great article it’s always an inspiration to see a positive article for us “life experienced” guys. I’m 48, soon to be 49. 5’11” 195. I’ve been working out for about 30 years now. I was in the military from the time I was 18-26 and was in good shape after I got out I just kept it up. I don’t run like I used, not that I can’t, I just choose not to, I have other ways to keep my heart rate up. I am in better shape from weight training than I was when I was in my 20s. I still do pushups, pull-ups lots of core workouts. I switch my weight routine every 3 weeks or so, sometimes throw in some kettle bells for a week and just constantly mix it up and have great results. Some workouts I do circuit training others I just do heavy lifting, but always keep the muscles guessing. My wife says I have a body of someone half my age, I guess the saying is true, “If you use it you never lose it.”
    Great stories guys!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ken! Great on your stats. That’s awesome.

      Keep up the good work!

  • Jim Anderson

    Hi mike I’m 65 recently retired t,at the moment I have bicipital tendinitis in my right shoulder so any lifting is out I do 30 mins of HIIT 6 days 1 min wlk 1 min jog 1 min sprint,some back and abb and leg exercises,I am 5ft 8 and 80kgs this is my plateau any advice would be welcome thanks .

  • Jim Anderson

    Hi mike no can’t do any lifting or pushing shoulder too tender

    • Michael Matthews

      Sorry what is this in reference to?

      • James Anderson

        I was referring to my bicipital tendinitis you asked if I could do any bodyweight stuff i said no my shoulder is still too tender I’m just doing HIIT for 30 mins per day on treadmill ,legs ,back,and abbs any advice would be welcome until my shoulder is better,may take a few more weeks,thanks

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay thanks for the info. Then we’ll just have to stay off it and do what you can. You can train legs and maybe do some pull ups?

  • Jim Anderson

    Hi mike traveling to florida in June for holiday,staying in Bradenton ,do you have any retail outlets,that sell Legion products ,would like to try them out .

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice! No not yet but I’m in talks with a big chain about carrying them. We’ll see…

  • Scott

    Hi Mike. New to your site. 49 and wanting to get back in the game after a long time away. Have a tendon tear in my shoulder (slap) that keeps me from doing any bench, military, etc. Is there anything I can do upper body that will help turn the tide on muscle to flab. Elbow joints have historically bugged me after what I thought were reasonable weights for biceps. Any help is appreciated on how to do this without ending up doing more harm than good. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Scott!

      Hmm are body weight pushes out too? Push-ups? Are you doing rehab for the tear?

  • Dave

    Hi Mike,
    For us over 40’s…If we follow the BLS program and can do the 4-6 reps on biceps and chest.. but can only do a lighter weight with 6-8 reps on shoulders (because of injury etc) will that be ok? I mean do you think we would have big bulging biceps due to heavy weights and our shoulders look like crap due to lower weight and higher reps? lol. Also, If we can not do deadlifts due to bad back or knees.. what other exercises can we do? more isolation exercises for that muscle area etc? Thx Dave. Of to buy another of your books today. And also if anyone is reading this.. just buy Mikes book…period, you will be impressed..

    • Michael Matthews

      Totally fine yes. 6-8 is sometimes necessary even for us younger folk on certain lifts like the side and rear raises.

      You can simply substitute exercises using the list provided in BLS. While there isn’t any DIRECT replacement for deads, there are plenty of other effective back exercises you can do.

      Thanks for your support brother!

  • Avi

    Hi Mike, I’m 35 and really needing a change in my life. My other half and I have had pretty clean, decent eating habits for many years but are lacking the strength and muscle building needed to sustain our aging bodies. We are starting to look really out of shape and getting worried. Are we more geared to begin working out regularly (we don’t have a regular routine) or is it mainly diet? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Building and maintaining muscle is very important for aging. Now’s a great time to get on it…

  • Pingback: Why we’re not losing weight after 35 | Violet Thorn()

  • Sly

    Hey Mike, I quite like this article as it addresses some of my current concerns. I’m 46 and I’d say lean I’m 5ft 10, weigh 187.7lbs, BF10%, I’d like to get up to 190 with a BF of circa 7-8% so I’m currently consuming 2900 – 300 calories @ 40/30/30, I’d like to add some size to my frame without gaining too much fat in the process.

    What’s your opinion on somatotypes, I ask this because I gain fat easily so I go easy with Carbs and consume at least 80% of my daily intake around my early morning workouts, I use Oats, Sweet potatoes, Brown Rice, Quinoa, Oat cakes and the occasional Bread and Rice cakes for my starchy Carb source, the rest comes fruits and veggies. I only recently switched to a high fat diet (Almonds, Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds, Fish Oils, CLA, Walnuts, EVCO, Almond & Olive Oil , Avocados and Fish are the main sources) and for Protein I can’t get enough chicken anyway so Turkey, the occasional steak and Tilapia, Mackerel (Fats here I know).

    I feel I need more Carbs as my energy levels aren’t as they should be imo but I’m terrified of the extra lard I may put on.

  • sam

    Help i want to improve myself physically and doing so grow emotionally also.im 38 size 8 and always had great muscle tone without going near a gym

  • Pingback: How To Lose Weight In Your Late 40s | Secret Weight Loss Blog()

  • MarkFickler

    I’m still hitting it and will be 59 in a week or so. Not as strong as the old days and i have to get a lot of recovery time but I lift about 3X per week and try for 1 sprint workout (which i only get about half the time)

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s awesome. Keep it up and it’ll really pay off over the next couple of decades.

  • Pingback: Strength Training After 40 — and Beyond! | Targitfit Blog()

  • nasser

    hi mike, in fact you are amazing,i was about to retire from physical training,but reading your great inspiring article ,i am back with much enthusiasm, thanks to your great effort indeed

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow awesome! Keep up the good work!

  • MarkFickler

    I can still build muscle pretty well but my recovery is way slower than the old days. I keep it simpler and do mainly compound movements. Very little isolation work. http://oldspartanfitness.com/gaining-muscle-mass-after-50/

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great Mark. Nice article too!

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • nilesh v bodke

    Mr matthews i m nilesh from india.i m almost 40 and for the last 20 years i m with the same weight that is 52 / 55 kg.i want it to be atleast 75.and that to in a smart body like tough guy type.please guide me and help me.thanks.

  • James

    Hi, I’m turning 40 this year and I’m tired of being out of shape. Can you point me in the direction to start? I feel I not only owe it to my family to be in the best shape, but also to myself. I currently have a low self esteem and often don’t do things because of it.

  • erik

    Great article and particularly helpful to keep confidence in us older guys. I’m 30 and have not noticed a decrease in the rate at which I gain muscle or maintaining a lean condition when compared to my early 20’s.

    The thing is a lot of my friends have a psychological issue with turning 30 and word spreads that as soon as you hit that number your gut expands two fold,you’re an over the hill has-been who should admit defeat and take a retirement seat in front of the TV while stuffing your face with junk food til the day you die.

    The contrary is the truth and I’m happy it differs from common opinion.

    • Thanks! Yeah I’m 30 and am still going strong. 🙂

      Haha very true.

  • Hey Mike – Nice discussion for the old guys amongst us, it comes round real quick.

    I totally agree that getting ripped in middle age is totally doable. I’m 46 now, and gained a little fat over the winter, but I was down around 9.5% last year, and the reality was, it was pretty straightforward. Some heavy compound lifts, and a calorie deficit, that really is all there is to it.

    That said, I really find daily fasting helps me personally, I love to eat massive meals, and pushing the first meal of the day out to 1pm or so is perfect for someone of my disposition. I have no hassle being compliant in the mornings, and having a compressed eating window allows for large meals and a treat or two as well.

    Since taking a more flexible approach to my food choices, I definitely eat better quality foods for the most part, knowing that chocolate and ice cream, and even the occasional slice of pizza, are not off limits.

    So, guys over 40, you genuinely can do this, and make the young dudes with their man boobs look like crap 🙂

    Cheers Mike

    • Thanks!

      That’s awesome man. Really glad to hear you’re doing well.

      Fasting is awesome if you like eating big meals. I don’t like it myself because too much food in one go makes me sleepy and I have too much work to be sleepy haha.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • RellWilliams


    This help anyone build muscle mass fast and safe.

  • Dayton Senior Bodybuilder

    At age 63, I like to think I’m living proof that Mike’s fitness and nutrition plans work. Bigger, Leaner, Stronger has become my go-to book. I follow it religiously and have made incredible progress. To think only a few years ago, I was recovering from major surgery and 100 pounds overweight. I’m reaching my goal of 9% body fat – not there yet, but I’m confident I will be. BTW, when asked at the gym – after inquiring about my age (eyes rolling here) – about my success as a senior weight lifter, I refer them to Mike’s website. Also enjoy your supplements! How’s this for an endorsement?

    • Great to hear of the results you’ve gotten from BLS!

      Cool on your goal of 9%. That’s pretty damn lean.

      Thanks a ton for spreading the word brother! Sounds like a great endorsement. 🙂 You da man!

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Toni

    Rest and recovery is so important when you are over 40. It’s never too late to get fit though.

  • Darryl Exum

    I am 51 i started this fitness journey a a four years ago with bigger leaner stronger. heavy compound lifts have been my staple and they do work. But i have discovered in the last 35 days some amazing gains and losses. Mike you are so right and i say you should emphasize it more DIET DIET DIET. watching your calories, cutting the sugar and using the right protein.Makes all the difference.
    i look forward to Beyond bigger leaner Stronger. would be great if you posted some sample workouts . like the one year plan you did for bigger leaner stronger. I followed it closely and got amazing results.

  • StellaK414

    How about for the ladies over 40 and beyond? How does this work?

    • This article applies for the ladies as well! If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

  • Benjamin Colin

    I’m Googling along and found your site. Straight to the point without all the fluff and bullshit! I’m going to sign up at the Power House Gym in the next town next month. I’ll be starting at age 59. I’ll be going for an ’60’s and over physique competition in about 2-4 years. Why? It’s something that I always wanted to do, but never had the real motivation until I came to your site and read what you put up.
    Thanks Micheal Matthews.

    • Glad you like what you see.

      Cool you’re signing up at Power House. It’s a great gym.

      I love the goal man. Let’s do it.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

      • Andre Jackson

        Hi Micheal. I’ll definitely keep you up-to-date about my progress. I’ll tell you something, you and John Doe are the only two guys that make sense about weight training/bodybuilding.

        What do you think if I add just a bit of AAS to help me on my quest?

  • Richard

    Hi Mike. Im 45 and have read in your book the older you are the more protein you need post exercise as its not absorbed as well etc… It was mentioned in one of your podcasts aswell. so Im just about to start a bulk. 1g/1lb BW Protein is suggested. Should I increase this maybe to 1.1 or 1.2g/1lb???

    • Nah. While in a calorie surplus, there’s no need.

      If you were cutting and in a deficit, 1.2g per pound would be good.

  • Matt

    Hi Mike, i’m 47 and a truck driver. i’m obese 365lb, 6’3″ and have always been strong and able to carry it off. however over the past year or so i seem to be really struggling, and am losing a lot of strength. i want to turn my life around, but no real idea where to start. Any advice would be great

  • lyrralt

    I avoided back surgery unintentionally in my late 30s, and am fairly able now at nearly 40. I painted my house for a week despite my back (L5 S1) screaming at me the whole time. When I was done and I rested for a week I noticed significantly less back pain. Upon reflection I realized I was doing hundreds of low back isometric flexes on the ladder leaning away from the house to work. Since then I incorporated deadlifts to help my back, but I started at 65lbs. I continued the deadlifts for about 2 years now, I NEVER permit myself to ego lift in the gym. It’s really just a matter of realizing your limits and resisting that urge to “really push the limits of your body”.

    • Thanks for sharing! That’s awesome to hear about the improvement in the lower back from the unintentional workouts while painting, haha.

      It’s amazing that you’ve been able to deadlift for the last 2 years despite the lower-back issues! Way to be smart about it and make it work. 🙂

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • nasser

    hi mike,i am 48 and i need to know which is more better for people of my age:training with higher loads or with higher repetitions or both.thanks

  • Sam

    i am 35 years old i lost 25 kg from my weight and i am planing to start gm to build muscles and strength what advice can i get thank you

  • Daniel

    I need to log my workouts in oder to track my progression. Can you recommend an app or old school notebook best way?… Side note: i just started reading your book

  • Tommy G

    I am 44 years old im 5’7 145 lbs i stopped working out for about 6 month now and noticed the difference in my muscle definition (looking unsatisfying) I want to know what the best supplement for me to purchase to start working out again?

  • Tommy G

    is the disscussion still active?

  • Gary


    As a 44 year old, I’m wondering how many days I should train? I’m in the process of reading your book bigger, leaner, stronger and you advise training for five days a week ideally. Would this still apply to over 40s? Thanks.

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  • Joel

    Hey Mike, do you recommend a week off or a de-load week if you’re over 40?

    • Joel

      Another question, Mike. I took my de-load week last week and then got sick and went to the gym today to do chest and I was noticeably weaker (could only get 4 reps instead of my usual 6). So when this happens, is it best to reduce weight and work with that weight for a couple weeks until I’m back to where I was OR do i struggle with 3-4 reps?

      • NP! Sorry to hear you got sick. 🙁

        If you’re able to get at least 4 reps, stick with the weight, if not, drop the weight to stay in the 4-6 rep range.

        Hope this helps! Talk soon!

        • Joel

          Thanks! I wasn’t sick for a whole year and then it happened right after my de-load week so that was really frustrating LOL.

          • Welcome! Damn. That’s annoying.

            The strength will come back fast. 🙂

    • Up to you! Whatever you prefer is fine.

  • TD

    I love that you wrote an article about us over-40’s! Anyway, I found that as an “older trainee”, I need to make recovery and flexibility a priority. Sometimes I require an extra day to recover so I’m smart and listen to my body. And I make sure I stretch on a regular basis because flexibility is so important, especially as you get older. Being mindful of these two things in particular, has helped keep me basically injury-free (knock wood), and training 4 days a week. You just have to be smart about things, and you’ll be able to train into your 40’s and beyond.

    • Glad you liked it! I completely agree!

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • gemjack

    I’m 45, should I drastically lower my protein shake intake?

    • No. I just recommend you get the majority of your protein from whole food sources.

  • Dan

    Just some support for you here, 54 years old, lost 48 lbs in calorie deficit and got to about 14% BF, then recomped to about 11%, which meant adding ~10 lbs of lean mass in about 2 months. Now starting a bulking phase…hoping for another 10! That all happened in 4 months… I also have new lifetime PRs in Bench, Deadlift, and Squat (shoulder issues slowing me down on OHP).

    • Hey Dan! I appreciate it.

      Awesome job on the weight you lost, the muscle you gained and the strength gains you made!

      True. Fortunately, you can improve mobility pretty easily with some mobility work:


      Again, awesome job. Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Neil

    Hello there. I need some help. I don’t know where to start. I would really appreciate if someone would take me on as a protege. I am 37 years old, almost 38, I am 6ft 2 and 115kg little to no muscle. I have always been tall and skinny. Most of my weight is around the mid section in fat. I haven’t been fit since about 18.

    I decided to try to turn my situation around and I really need to feel good about myself. I started weight training about 3 months ago. I was training every day for the first month but just wore myself out. I am now training every second day with rest day in between. I started out trying to do about 12 exercises with 5 sets, 8 reps. I was resting about 2 min between sets and workout was taking over two hours to complete. I have cut it down to 6 exercises, 5 sets, 8 reps as heavy as I can lift which isn’t much with 2 min rest between. I just do the same workout every time working arms, chest, shoulders.

    I have also changed my diet, trying to eliminate unnecessary fat and sugar, while eating lot of protein, red meat etc.

    Anyway, I don’t feel I am getting any results and feel quite discouraged. Visually, I have lost some weight around mid section but don’t really see any muscle. I don’t feel stronger either although I have increased bench press weight and small increase in other exercises. I also feel very tired since beginning weight training. I don’t know if I am doing anything right or if I am just wasting my time. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • melissa

    Im a 47 yr old female!

  • Terry

    I’m very interested in this program. I’ve been in and out of weightlifting since my early 20’s; recently (since Nov 2015) got back into it more consistently. I am 54, about 25% bf and still 25 pounds overweight. Working nights leaves me very little time to squeeze in a workout. Try to hit the weights 2x and HIIT 2x per week and have to modify some exercises due to lack of equipment (work out at home) and injuries. Is this a good program for me to try? I don’t see many pics of women my age on your site.

    • That’s great, Terry! Yes, this is still a good program for you to try. I don’t know what your day-time looks like, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find a way to fit in an extra day or two for exercise. Modifying exercises to fit equipment and physical limitations is fine 🙂

  • christina roberts

    hi Mike, have been listening to your podcasts and learning a lot from these. I am 41 years old woman and have been lifting for past three years. started with very small and now I can squat my body weight. Is it a normal pace, I get disappointed when I see all the men able to bench two 45 pound plates easily.

    • That’s great, Christina! Glad you’re enjoying my content, and good work with your weights progression. Don’t sweat it. Your only competitor is yourself. As long as you are giving it your best effort in each training session and pushing yourself to higher levels of performance, you’re doing very well. When you don’t see progress or are hitting a plateau, then take the necessary actions to get things moving again.

  • Vishruth

    Mike, I’m male 40, 5’10” at 64kgs. I have been on a continuous cut for 5 months now and BLS + 3 day/wk biking HIIT 20 mins + brisk walk 1 hr for 5 day/wk. But my belly still bulges out. Need to cut belly by at least 1.5″ to have flat stomach. Having been on a cut for a continuous of 5 months, it’s becoming very very hard to continue cutting. I think for some reason I have reached skinny fat and yes I have read your article. Stuck – any suggestions?

    • Doug W

      Hey Vishruth,

      I’m not anyone associated with Legion, but my personal stats are remarkably similar to yours. Been on a cut for 23 consecutive weeks now, 5’10, and 66kgs and am struggling with the same issue of that last bit of belly fat to lose; another inch or so.
      Wish I had some advice or wisdom to pass on, but I guess all I’m here to say is, misery loves company…

      Keep up the good fight!


    I’ve lifted weights all my life… So I am not a novice… I’ve worked out off and on for 30+ yrs… My best workout run was when I was in the military and right afterwards… About 12 yrs in total… I was at the gym all the time… Then I took off a few years… Every now and then I’d get back into my workouts and go about 3-6 months then dog off again… Not the best approach to a lifestyle of exercise… I know… Age has caught up to me along with bad eating habits… I am 48 yrs old now. I have Type II Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and low T… I’m on meds and taking Test shots once a week… I’m not terribly overweight… I’m 6′ 2″ and 250 lbs and in a size 36 pants… I can still bench press more than my bodyweight for 3 reps… So I know I have the strength… I want to build the muscle and control my DB… I am on a low carb, no sugar, high protein diet… Need some direction on building muscle and trimming down… Semper Fi…

  • Brian Seaberg

    I am 48 YO and have lifted on and off all my adult life. It has been off long enough that I am classifying myself as a beginner. You suggested that older people might start off with the 8-10 rep range. What does that correlate to in terms of suggested load? IE you recommend 80–85% of 1RM for 4-6 RR. What would it be for the 8-10, 6-8, etc…? Thanks. I am really enjoying your articles and am going to try the 5 day split because I just don’t have the stamina right now to do the full body workout 3 days a week that was suggested to me.

    • Hey Brian, sounds good on following the 5-day split! Let me know how it goes 🙂

      8-10 reps is somewhere around 75% of your 1RM, but you don’t have to test your 1RM to do the program. Just pick a weight where you can get at least 8 reps, but not more than 10. If you can get more than 10 reps, increase the weight. It’s just a bit of trial and error, and it can take a week or two to find your weights, but it’s not too complicated. Let me know if you need any other help!

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