Free Weight Workouts For Men Over 40: How Busy Dads Can Build Muscle Fast!

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

free weight workouts

Are you incorporating free weight workouts into your regular exercise regime?

If you ask a veteran weightlifter or bodybuilder, they'll likely tell you to leave the weight machines alone and stick with the free weights.

There are several reasons behind this thinking.

For one, when you're using a weight machine, your pathway is pretty much set in stone. It's an isolation movement — you perform the reps following the path that the machine allows. You can't add any variation to the exercise.

But, with free weight workouts, you can add variations and compound movements.

Working more muscle groups through compound movements will make your muscles grow like never before.

Ready to get buff? Below are some free weight workouts that will get you started!

Learn how to build muscle mass and see REAL results with these 6 principles of muscle building.

Free Weight Workouts For Biceps and Triceps

There are many free weight workouts for your biceps and triceps that will have them pumped up in no time.

I usually find three or four different exercises for each muscle group provide a great workout. I also tend to complete three to four sets for each exercise for 8-12 reps each.

Keep this in mind when you are following this routine.

Standing Dumbbell Curls

Nothing fancy about this exercise. Grab a pair of dumbbells and start to alternately curl with them. Be sure to keep your feet shoulder-width apart to provide stability. You can either do them the usual way with the palm of your hands facing forward or do hammer curls with the palm of your hands facing your sides.

Curl Bar

Curl bars are about four feet long and have a couple of bends in them. Clamp some free weights on the ends and start curling. You will notice that most bicep exercises are very similar. When you are basically pulling something towards you, you are working your biceps.

Curl in the Squat Rack with the Straight Bar


If you ever tell anyone that I said it was OK to do arm exercises in the squat rack, I will deny it with my last breath. However, I have a few friends that are freakishly strong, and they love to do curls with the straight bar and a couple of plates on each side. As for me, curling with the straight bar really hurts my forearms, so I try to avoid them. But they may work well for you!

Seated Dumbbell Curls

Take a seat on a bench in the gym with proper back support. Have the dumbbells hanging down at your side and then alternately curl with them. It is amazing how sitting down while doing these can work muscles differently.


Anytime you are pushing something away from you, it is working your triceps. You will find that you probably will end up working your triceps more than any muscle in your body just because you incorporate them into your chest and shoulders as well. Dips are a compound movement that does not receive enough credit for a full-body workout. While they are making your triceps grow, they are also working your core, shoulders, lats, and chest. There are no free weights used with this exercise unless you want to hang them around your waist as you do them to add more difficulty. Dips will use your own body weight to make your muscles grow quickly.

Skull Crushers

This exercise is relatively safe, so don’t be scared away by the name of it. There is only like a 5 percent chance of actually getting your skull crushed. Lay down on a bench with the curl bar that you used for your biceps. You should be in the same position that you are when you bench press. But this time, when you raise the bar over the top of you, bend your elbows and slowly lower the bar to the top of your forehead. You can start adding weight to the bar once you get accustomed to these and your balancing is good.


Kickbacks are not just illegal payments to politicians; they're also a good triceps exercise. It is called a kickback because you slowly straighten out the arm holding the dumbbell behind you. Here's how to do them properly — using both cables and dumbbells.

best exercise for men 40+

What Are The 5 Best Muscle Building Exercises For Men 40+?

best exercise for men 40+
The secret to building age-defying muscle in your in 40s, 50s, & 60s is to modify the best muscle building exercises (bench, squats, rows) to make them safe on your joints…

Free Weight Workouts For Chest

I usually do about four to five different exercises when training my chest. That will be between 15 and 20 sets, and if you do them correctly, you will achieve good growth. If you are beginning this type of training routine, do not be disappointed if you need to start with lighter weights. Once you get your balance down, you will be able to start adding more weight quickly.

Flat Barbell Bench Press

This is the mother of all exercises in the gym. No matter what, everyone does the bench press. It is with good reason, though. It trains your shoulders a bit, your chest, and your triceps. Always have someone spotting you if you are trying for more weight than you have ever used before. I’ve seen guys that could not bench the weight they had on the bar, so they ended up eating it. I’m sure 300 pounds on the neck does not feel good.

Dumbbell Flat Flyes

Grab a pair of lighter dumbbells and lay down on the bench. You can add more weight later on once you get the movement down. Your form should be like you are trying to hug a tree. Keep your arms bent and bring them together in front of you.

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

I like incline dumbbell presses better than using the bar with free weights, and I am not the only one. Using the bar during incline on the bench can leave your shoulders hurting. While quite a few do not have this problem, I definitely do. Using dumbbells instead saves my shoulders from aching later on.

Incline Dumbbell Flyes

While you have already done the flat flyes, changing it to incline works different parts of the chest. Many people skip dumbbell flyes and do the standing cable machine flyes instead. I feel more stretching and pump when doing dumbbell flyes though.

Get the program 50,891 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Free Weight Workouts For Back and Shoulders

Some people like to do back and shoulders the same day during their workout. I feel as if these exercises work a bit of both, so I knock it out in one day. Other people may do back and biceps together or shoulders and triceps. It all comes down to preference.

Standing Military Press

This is a forgotten compound movement that you don’t see nearly enough in the gym anymore. When a person does this exercise, they are working out almost all the muscles in their body. Do these in the squat rack for added safety.


While you are still in the squat rack, complete a few sets of shrugs as well. Not only does it work your traps, but your back as well. Plus, you are standing while you are doing these, so your legs may feel it, too.

towel pull ups muscles worked


Once again, while this usually does not require any extra weight, you may always add weight plates around your waist as you get stronger to make it more difficult. These will give you the puffed-out lats and the V-shape that most people like.

Bent-Over Barbell Rows

It may take a bit to get the form down, but they work your back well. While you do these, try squeezing your shoulder blades together. You will also find that these work a bit of your biceps also.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

These will really train your delts but don’t get carried away. Far too many people go with a much heavier weight than they should. Instead of improving your shoulders, you could end up needing rotator cuff surgery. Stick with lighter weight and proper form. Leave the ego lifting to the others.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

I tend to finish my back and shoulders workout with this exercise. Since it is seated, it adds another dimension to your routine. You will still be training your shoulders, traps, triceps, and your core with the seated dumbbell shoulder press.

See the program 38,000 guys over 40 are using to get results like these

Free Weight Workouts For Legs

As you become more familiar with training with free weights, you must not forget one of the 10 gym commandments: thou shalt not forsake leg day.


There is nothing fancy about squats, but be sure to keep your form tight. Don’t try going heavier than you should. Instead, focus on the full range. If you aren’t comfortable with squats, slide a bench underneath you. Once your bottom hits the bench, you know you have gone down far enough. Squatting is a compound movement and is almost a full-body workout.


While these can be completed on your back and shoulders day, they also incorporate a bit of leg into them. I save these for the end of my leg workout. Remember to keep your form; otherwise, you may hurt your back more than help it.

Calf Raises

Tiny calves can haunt even the toughest men. Even if you can’t get them to grow much, at least make them as strong as possible.

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Dr. Anthony Balduzzi, NMD
Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

Founder Fit Father Project, Founder Fit Mother Project

After watching his own Dad lose his health and pass away at the young age of 42, Dr. Balduzzi founded The Fit Father Project and Fit Mother Project to help busy dads and moms get and stay healthy for their families.

Dr. Anthony Balduzzi holds dual degrees in Psychology & Nutrition from the University of Pennsylvania, a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine, and is also a former national champion bodybuilder. He’s is most proud of the fact that he’s helped over 40,000 families in over 100 countries lose weight and get healthy for life.

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*Please know that weight loss results and 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 free weight workouts.

Written by: Dr. Anthony Balduzzi,

Men's Health Doctor & Founder
The Fit Father Project & Fit Mother Project

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