8 WORST Muscle Building Mistakes Guys Over 40 Make

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

8 of the worst mistakes
When it comes to Muscle Building, you may see pictures of the guys you want to look like and naturally try to find out what training program they are on, so you can emulate them and get the same gains, right?

Unfortunately, our bodies don't work that way, and trying the same workout routine as ‘The Rock' or Rich Froning would have you committing a multitude of training sins, especially as a man over 40 just setting out on a new program.

Basically, attempting to build muscle this way would set you up for injury (most likely long-term), discourage you, and make you give up. It would push you too hard, too fast and you would not get the gains you expected.

As you move into your 40's and 50's, your body's ability to recover from workouts reduces. This means you need a workout program that allows your muscles time to recover and grow.

In the article below, as we discuss the most often seen muscle building mistakes, you will see why this approach to training and nutrition doesn't work.

What you need is a muscle building program that is engineered to work for men over 40, taking into consideration all the physical changes that occur as you get older and how your body will adapt to different stresses.

Key Point: These changes DO NOT mean muscle building after 40 is impossible, as you can see from the picture above. We just need to change the approach to optimise it.

Our main focus for you, is to increase your testosterone levels, re-ignite your metabolism and counteract sarcopenia (age related muscle loss). These 3 things will mean more muscle mass and less fat.

In order to counteract muscle loss, you need to give your muscles the stimulus (resistance) combined with good fuel (food) and adequate recovery. Protein synthesis, which is what makes muscles grow, occurs over 48 hours after exercise.

Allowing your muscles to recover over this time means muscle growth… THEN… working them again after this 48 hour recovery gives them the stimulus to start the growth period all over again, meaning better gains from less stress and optimum recovery.

Let's explore the article further, so you can learn from the mistakes of others and get the right information to get you moving forward on the right foot!

Muscle Building Mistake #1 – Using advanced bodybuilding programs with too much volume (sets x reps) to recover.

When you start out with resistance training, there can be an urge to train like the guys you see in magazines or online because you think you’ll get the same gains doing the same training. I know, I’ve done it!

 muscle building mistakes - working out too hardThe problem is that the guys in the magazines are professionals that have been training for many years to be in that shape.

And chances are that your body is not conditioned to lift at that level of volume when you’re starting out…

Plus… you’re probably not taking the “performance aids” that these professional bodybuilders are using…

Plus.. doing tons of volume each workout is completely unnecessary (and even counter-productive) for progress..

When you start out, or are getting serious back into resistance training to build muscle, you need to condition your body first to lift weights.

Your ligaments, tendons and muscles all need to ‘understand’ the movements and adapt themselves to manage higher loads… SAFELY!

If you rush in with 3 sets of 10, on 5 exercises per body part (15 sets total per bodypart), with a weight you can barely lift, you're asking to get injured.

In fact, a study by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld proved that completing a full body resistance workout 3 times per week was better at increasing muscle than split routines where individual muscles were worked with multiple exercises, once per week.

This study was undertaken by guys that had over 4 years’ experience with resistance training.

This proves that full body training, recognised as superior all those years ago by old school muscle builders like Reg Parks and Steve Reeves (LINK TO VSL), is now recognised as a potentially superior approach to training by modern science too.

One of the main reasons full body training is so effective is due to spiking protein synthesis at the right times.

The window for protein synthesis is typically 48 hours, so when you train over 3 non-consecutive days, you are spiking protein synthesis just as it is ebbing.
 muscle building mistakes - protein synthesis
This spike is what helps your muscles to continue growing, without pushing it to an extreme and over-training. You are leaving just about the right amount of recovery time in between workouts.

Muscle Building Mistake #2 – Doing joint pounding workouts like Crossfit, can aggravate knees, shoulders, and back

 muscle building mistakes - getting injuredIt’s difficult to be anywhere in the fitness space without coming across Crossfit. Its popularity has become wildly mainstream and there are Crossfit boxes popping up everywhere around the world.

It’s understandable why there is such an attraction around the sport, especially if your goal is to add muscle, be strong and get fit. After all, that’s what Crossfit embodies, with the winner of the open being crowned ‘Fittest person on earth’.

The problem here is that a lot Crossfit exercises (box jumps, handstands, are HARD on your aging joints, your muscles, and basically your entire body.

If you’re a guy over 40 with a primary goal of gaining muscle, losing fat, and living healthy… there are MUCH SAFER and more effective ways to train than crossfit.

Instead, you want to pick the best weight lifting exercises (that are selected based on a very high safety-to-efficacy ratio) and focus on getting progressively stronger at those movements.

For a big chest: get strong at “slight decline” dumbbell bench press (very shoulder friendly)

For back: get strong at chest supported dumbbell rows (very low-back friendly)

For legs: get strong at goblet squats (very back friendly)

For arms: get strong at incline dumbbells curls and bench dips

There is no need to jump off 50 inch boxes and climb ropes to build muscle over 40 and get back into phenomenal shape.

Muscle Building Mistake #3 – Using DIY plans or exercises that a friend told you were AWESOME.

 muscle building mistakes- diy workouts“Do it yourself” (DIY) plans or programs that are handed down in at the office water cooler are always floating around…along with “unicorn stories” about the diet plan your brothers’ wife’s’ second cousins’ room-mate lost 20lb in a week on!

These types of hacked together, hodgepodge muscle building programs are our worst nightmare.

Often, these types of DIY plans are dangerous – as they generally rely on the word of a few people that have tried it and have managed to get gains, usually through luck or because of something else they are doing in tandem.

Most DIY programs also contain exercises that the new participant doesn’t know, so they ‘make up’ their own version of how the exercise should be done.

If we’re lucky, they might be sensible and check out a YouTube video or ask a trainer at the gym, to understand the form!

If you're using a DIY plan currently, I would strongly urge you to stop!

Having a structured training program designed by medical and fitness professions that is precision designed for your age and goals is what you need.

Here at the Fit Father Project, we specialise in preparing structured programs for men over 40 and have helped over 10,000 men get in great shape and become stronger and fitter for themselves and their families.

With a combined 40+ years in fitness and men’s health, our team develop body transformation programs that help guys like you to gain muscle and get back the body you thought was lost to your 20’s.


We want you to achieve your training goals in a SAFE and EFFECTIVE way, so you don’t suffer injuries that can set your training back by months, or struggle to get gains.

We have developed a professional training program called ‘Old School Muscle’ that brings back forgotten training principles that were used by legendary muscle builders like Frank Zane and Reg Parks.

These guys knew what they were doing and their techniques and principles have now been proven by science to be the most effective. We want to share those principles with you in this great training program.

Muscle Building Mistake #4 – Exercising but not having good nutrition to support gains.

 muscle building mistakes - bad dietThis is a very common mistake and one that has stopped many men in their tracks when it comes to gaining muscle.

It is probably the No 1 reason we have lots of guys that call themselves ‘Hard-gainers’.

Being a ‘hard-gainer’ basically means you are burning up the same or more calories than you are taking in, so you don’t have anything left to fuel your muscles with the nutrients they need to grow.

Nutrition is a hugely key part of gaining muscle (An old saying suggests it is responsible for 80% of your “gains”). Whether that is completely true or not, it is certain that you will not gain muscle if your diet is off-track.

Fixing a poor diet (eating too little OR too much) will give you much faster gains than increasing your training. Even adding 1 extra, protein rich meal to your diet, will increase your muscle mass quickly.

Here are a couple of guidelines to follow:

• Include a high quality protein with every meal.

• Include complex “slow-burn” carbs with every meal.

• Get enough healthy fats to support hormone production.

• Eat every 4 hours (3 meals and 1 snack).

• Have your biggest meal AFTER exercise.

• Use the proven supplements that actually work.

For our exact muscle building nutrition plan (coupled with the 8-Week Workout Plan), check out our Old School Muscle System.

We hand you all the muscle building recipes, grocery shopping lists, and muscle building nutrition secrets – specifically designed for you as a man over 40.

Muscle Building Mistake #5 – Overtraining: The ‘more must be better’ analogy.

 muscle building mistakes - over training Overtraining is a very common mistake that’s made by guys eager to get their gains. What’s worse: it gets progressively EASIER to overtrain as our bodies get older.

I’m going to show you how to prevent that right now…

See, when you start out with strength training to build muscle, it’s very natural to feel that the more you do, the better and faster your gains will be.

If you have read yesterday’s email, you will know that rest and recovery is one of the most important components for muscle gain and that too much training is unnecessary and will hamper your gains.

Training with weights 6 days per week – without leaving room for recovery – will not lead to more muscle gains. In fact, it will most definitely lead to overtraining and nervous system burn-out.

Remember: the goal of exercise is to STIMULATE muscle protein synthesis. The goal AFTER EXERCISE is to refuel and repair your body with nutrition, sleep, and adequate rest time.

Instead of doing 21+ sets per body-part once per week (the bodybuilding bro split)… we recommend you spread those 20 sets across 3 workouts throughout the week.

This spaced out full-body training approach is one of the “old school secrets” that enabled Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mentor Reg Park to build and maintain a body like this well into his 60s (show pic).

For the full story of Reg and Arnold’s training and the old school muscle building secrets they discovered, click here to watch this video.

Muscle Building Mistake #6 – Injury by lifting heavy weights with poor form.

 muscle building mistakes not lifting with proper formWe have briefly touched on this in Mistake 2, but in this instance technique is jeopardized by lifting too heavy, rather than trying to rush through your workout.

Lots of guys that are fresh to the gym, want to prove that they can mix it with the rest and don’t want to be lifting smaller weights.

It’s understandable, but if you want your training to be effective, you need to leave your ego at the door and focus on technique, form and muscular contraction.

It’s all very well to complete a barbell curl with a 30kg bar, but if you are swaying backwards and forwards and forcing your shoulders to take half the load, how much effect do you expect will go to your biceps?

Key Point: your muscles do not know how much weight you are lifting. They know how much TENSION is generated from moving that weight through the full range of motion.

Which of the following do you think will create more good muscular tension…?

• Swinging your back all over the place “curling 100 lbs”

• Keeping strict form with a slow and controlled 65 lb curl.

The slow, controlled form wins every time. That’s why good form is essential to muscle building success – at any age. As we progressively increase the tension demand on our muscles each workout, the muscle adapts and grows stronger.

If you are unsure of the proper technique for any exercise that is contained in our programs, we have complete video tutorials available on our YouTube channel.

Muscle Building Mistake #7 – Not warming up or cooling down properly.

worst muscle building mistakes - not warming upIf you aren’t warming up before, or cooling down after a workout, you are setting yourself up for a potential injury, which could put you out of action and lead to muscle loss, instead of the muscle gains you want.

Warming up doesn’t have to be a long arduous process. A simple 5-minute jump rope or rowing session to loosen and warm your muscles, followed by some warm up sets on each exercise before your maximal lift is perfect.

Warming up like this will make sure your muscles are warm and ready for lifting and your stabiliser muscles and connective tissues know what to expect when you start to lift heavier.

Doing light warm-up sets of the exercise you are about to do will also get your mind-muscle connection synched up, so you are making the most of the movement, by concentrating fully on the muscle being worked.

Cooling down after a session is important to remove lactic acid from your body and regulate your heart rate slowly.

Your cool down, again, doesn’t need to be long. A simple stretch routine, covering all muscle groups will be just what you need. Alternatively, a quick 6 to 7-minute yoga flow could also be beneficial.

Even with a warm up and cool down included, our ‘Old School Muscle’ program can be done in less than 45-minutes.

We know you have a busy schedule, which is why we put together programs that are short but deadly effective.

Muscle Building Mistake #8 – Inconsistent training and eating.

worst mistakes - missing calendar datesNothing holds back results more than inconsistency.

When you first start out, your intentions are all there. You train every session for the first couple weeks and you start to notice results.

On the third week, your neighbor has a party, so you miss your Friday workout. No biggie, right? You’ll just catch up on Monday.

Monday rolls round and you get your workout in, but you weren’t feeling good from an over-indulgent weekend, so it didn’t go to plan.

Because of the bad workout on Monday, you skip Wednesday to get your head back in the game and set to it fresh on Friday.

On Friday, you get a good workout in and you work hard. That deserves a reward, so you ditch your chicken and rice and have a pizza instead.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture!

This may look like an exaggeration, but having trained hundreds of guys for over the last 16 years, I can promise you it’s not.

Inconsistencies with your training and nutrition plan will be responsible for a lack of gains in 90% of cases.

I know you can’t control every external reason for missing a workout, or for needing to make an alternative food choice, but you can plan to minimise the effect of it.

If you are going to a party on Friday night, move your workout earlier so you don’t have to miss it. If there will be food at the party, make sure you have your healthy meal beforehand so you don’t overdo the snacks.

If you can abstain from the snacks completely all the better. I’m sure your host will not be offended.

There are ways to keep up with your training and nutrition plan, whatever is happening in your life. If you really want to achieve great gains, you will. If it’s not a priority, you’ll keep making excuses.

Conclusion: If you are making any of these mistakes, or know you want to see faster muscle building results, we have your solution!

As you can see from the above, we have noticed what common mistakes occur when guys are undertaking training plans that have not been prepared for men over 40.

That is why we developed our ‘Old School Muscle’ program, especially for those guys, just like you.

It is 100% possible to gain muscle, whatever age you are, and these pictures prove that.

We have used the principles that Reg Park used to mentor Arnold Schwarzenegger to claim 6 Mr. Olympia titles and that Frank Zane used to claim 3 Mr. Olympia titles.

If these principles have been responsible for the achievement of 9 combined titles from the most prestigious body-building competition in the world, then I’m sure you’ll agree, they’re pretty iron-clad!

We would like to extend an invitation for you to get all of our programs at a tremendous discount. Even at this low price you'll gain access to our entire library, which includes the knowledge, skills, and commitment of the Fit Father experts.

fit father for life
Your new friend & health coach,

Stuart Carter Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

Here’s How Busy Guys 40+ Are Building Age-Defying Muscle And Strength… Working Out Just 3 Hours Per Week...

This proven "Old School Muscle Program For Guys 40+" combines the “old school” bodybuilding secrets with the “new school” science… to produce muscle & strength building results fast.

Only for guys 40+ who want to build muscle.

If you're frustrated with stubborn belly fat, failed diets, and time-consuming workouts, this is the answer you’ve been looking for…

Old School Muscle (OSM) covers every aspect of building muscle for you as a guy 40+:
  • Old School Muscle (OSM) covers every aspect of building muscle for you as a guy 40+:
  • The 9-Week Muscle Building Program – safe, joint-friendly exercises
  • VIP Accountability Coaching – our Fit Father Team will personally walk you to success, step-by-step.
See the Old School Muscle (OSM) Program overview here. You’ll discover how this proven program has helped thousands of guys 40+ pack onage-defying muscle and strength – the smart & sustainable way. »

*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on muscle building mistakes.


Sign up below.
We’ll send this FREE workout
straight to your email.

Written by: Stuart Carter,

Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project


Sign up below.
We’ll send this FREE workout
straight to your email.

Fit Father Project Fact-Checking Standards

Our Fit Father Project Team’s deepest commitment is to helping you live healthier for both yourself and your family. And when it comes to online content, integrity and trust is everything. That’s why our Fit Father Project staff-writers are all trained professionals in the field of health and wellness (registered dieticians, licensed personal trainers, and licensed physicians) – see the full team here. We rigorously run all of our articles through a rigorous editorial process to ensure the accuracy, simplicity, and utility of the information. And we aren’t just a team of “academics” sitting in an ivory tower. We are real people – with jobs, responsibilities, and families – working hard in the trenches and testing our tips & methods out to make sure you can stay healthy for family.

Here is what you can expect from us on our Fit Father Blog and YouTube channel:

  1. All of our content is written and reviewed by licensed health professionals (dieticians, personal trainers, doctors).
  2. In nearly all of our articles, we link to published research studies from the most respected peer-reviewed medical & health journals.
  3. We include research-based videos to accompany our articles to make it easier for you to consume our content, put it into action, and see results.
  4. Inside our articles & videos, we do promote our free meal plans, workouts, and/or paid programs, because we know they have the potential to change your life.
  5. We openly take feedback here on our contact page. We welcome your content suggestions… and even feedback on grammar (we’d like to thing that we’re pretty OK at spelling and “stuff”).
  6. Above all, we are a community of likeminded men and women committed to living healthier. We do not advocate any health advice that we wouldn’t personally implement with our families. Because as far as we’re concerned, you’re our family too.

Thanks for checking out the blog. We can’t wait to support you toward greater health, energy, and vitality. – The Fit Father Project Team


Terms of Service & Privacy Policy