Strength Training Over 40: The Top 10 Full-Body Exercises

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Strength Training Over 40

When many men think about strength training over 40, they envision hours in the gym doing grueling workouts.

But, with the right full-body exercises, strength training over 40 can fit into any busy schedule — and you don't have to kill yourself!

The key is making the most out of each of your workouts.

Whether you are just starting or have been working out for years, full-body strength training is perfect for all levels of fitness.

You can work multiple muscles simultaneously to get the most bang for your buck when working out.

This means you can get buff without spending hours in the gym!

If you are ready to get in the best shape of your life, then full-body strength training is the way to go!

Learn more about working out in your 40s, 50s, and 60s, and how you should be eating and supplementing your diet.

The Benefits of Strength Training Over 40

Target Major Muscles Groups More Frequently

Full-body strength training gives you killer workouts that target all of your major muscle groups.

And when you are utilizing these types of exercises, you can achieve a high level of results in under an hour a day, and as little as three days a week.

When you incorporate full-body strength training, you can hit each muscle group in a single workout session instead of isolating your muscle groups to one day a week.

And research has shown that increasing the frequency of exercising each muscle group can lead to bigger strength and hypertrophy gains as compared to isolating muscle groups and only targeting them once a week.

Increase Fitness

In the past, you may have tried workout programs that had you target specific body parts on each day of the week.

For example, one day may have been “leg day” and another “back and bicep day.”

But studies have shown that full-body workouts can be more beneficial for improving fitness and building muscle.

Decrease Muscle Soreness

When you do countless reps on one body part, you end up feeling extremely sore when you go to work out the next day.

But with full-body strength training, since you aren’t just piling up legs on one muscle group, this will allow for better recovery.

This means you can give your best effort for your next workout.

Maximize Muscle Building Potential

Full-body strength training is excellent because you are able to make the most out of muscle synthesis after each workout.

For one, you are giving your body enough time to recover before the next full-body workout.

This means you can give your best effort in every workout.

On top of this, by not allowing too much time before targeting each muscle group, you are able to hit the best window for when muscle growth is at its highest potential.

This, in turn, will increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage.

Avoid Overtraining

By splitting up your workouts, you can avoid overtraining specific muscle groups.

For example, if you specifically focus on your legs one day, there is a higher risk of overtraining as you try to cram all of your leg work into one day.

In contrast, if you are able to do three workouts a week that incorporate full-body exercises, you can focus on all muscle groups simultaneously during these workouts.

By repeating this three times weekly, you will still get in the desired weekly sets and reps without causing excessive muscle damage.

This will allow you to lose weight and be able to build a great-looking physique.

Improve Health and Quality of Life

Not only will full-body strength training help you lose weight and build muscle, but it will also improve your overall health and reduce your risk of chronic disease.

This will keep you living a high quality of life to spend with your family and loved ones.

Chronic disease prevalence increases with age, so keeping your health in check is increasingly important for men over 40.

Exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Exercise aids in fat loss and overall weight loss as well.

By just decreasing your potential for obesity, you can avoid the development of numerous chronic diseases, ranging from cardiovascular disease to even certain cancers.

Full-body strength training will reduce your risk for injury as well, not just while you’re working out, but also in day-to-day activities.

This will allow you to live independently as you age.

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

The Top 10 Full Body Strength Training Exercises For Men Over 40

Check out these ultimate full-body strength training exercises that will target your upper and lower body simultaneously while also engaging your core.

Deadlift

While a lot of people think of deadlifts as being a leg exercise, when done correctly, this move targets multiple muscle groups.

The deadlift hits the hamstrings, glutes, quads, core, upper back, and deltoids.

If you are new to this exercise, it is important to focus on form, not how much weight you are lifting to avoid injury.

  • To start, stand with your feet hip-width apart and mid-foot under the barbell.
  • Hinge forward at your hips and grasp the bar with your hands just outside of your knees.
  • Take the slack out of the bar by slightly pulling up on the bar until it makes contact with the weights on the ends.
  • Then drive your heels into the floor and pull the bar up along your shins by using your legs until you’re standing with your hips fully extended.
  • Then return the bar to the floor by moving your hips back while bending your legs and lowering the bar.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Bent-Over Rows to Tricep Kickbacks

This movement will hit your lats during the row and transition to engaging your triceps during the dumbbell kickback.

Plus, you will need to engage your core throughout the entire exercise to hold your slightly bent position.

  • To start, stand upright, hinge forward, and bend your knees slightly while holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Lift the dumbbells straight up to chest level, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top.
  • Then kick back your arms behind you by squeezing your triceps.
  • Next, bend your elbows to return the weights to your chest.
  • Lower the weights by extending your arms to return to the starting position.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell workouts are great for your glutes, hamstrings, upper, mid, and lower back muscles, as well as your core.

Not only will it work these large muscle groups, but it will also get your heart pumping and increase your cardiovascular fitness.

  • Start at a low weight and work your way up to avoid injury.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grip the kettlebell handle.
  • Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips, bringing the kettlebell between your legs.
  • Drive up through your hips, bringing the kettlebell parallel to the floor at about chest level.
  • Repeat 10-12 times for a total of 3 sets.

Wall Balls

This dynamic full-body strength move hits every part of your upper and lower body.

You only need a light medicine ball to get huge results.

  • Begin by facing a wall.
  • Stand close enough that you can catch the medicine ball as it comes off the wall.
  • Hold the medicine ball by your chest and drop into a squat.
  • Then explode up through your heels as you throw the ball with both hands at a spot on the wall about 8-10 feet high.
  • Catch the ball as it rebounds off the wall and begin the next rep immediately.
  • Try to complete 8-10 throws.

Renegade Rows

This movement forces you to engage your core and lower body, while also working the muscles in your back and shoulders during the rowing motion.

  • Start in a push-up position while grasping two light dumbbells underneath you (or without weights).
  • Engage your core and pull up your left arm into a row while balancing on the right arm.
  • Return the left arm back to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite side.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps on each side.

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

Squat to Shoulder Press

The squat to shoulder press targets your glutes, hamstrings, and quads during the squat.

Then, as you press up, you will be targeting the shoulders while also engaging the core.

  • Begin in a standing position with a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height.
  • Squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Extend your legs back up to a standing position.
  • Then press the dumbbells overhead by extending the elbows.
  • Return the weights to the shoulders, then repeat.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.

Burpees

This is a great full-body exercise that utilizes your body weight as resistance.

Burpees also add cardio to your workout session.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Squat down and place your hands on the floor.
  • Kick back into a push-up position.
  • Do one push-up.
  • Jump your legs back to a squat and jump up, throwing your hands above your head.
  • Land and repeat.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.
  • Rest for 15 seconds, then repeat two more times.

Farmer’s Walk

If you want a simple exercise that hits pretty much every major muscle group, then you have to incorporate farmer’s walks into your workout routine.

This move targets the muscles in your shoulders, upper back, biceps, triceps, and forearms.

It also strengthens your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

All of this, plus you are engaging your core throughout the entire movement.

This is one of the most straightforward full-body exercises out there.

  • All you need to do is grab two dumbbells, kettlebells, or farmer’s bars and walk as far as you can.
  • Make sure that you brace your core with the weights by your side.
  • Draw your shoulders down and back and stand tall throughout the exercise.
  • How far you can walk will typically depend on how much space you have available.
  • Start by trying to walk as far as you can across the room you're in.
  • Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat two more times.

Turkish Get Up

This may seem complicated at first, but once you master this move, you will understand why it is one of the ultimate full-body exercises.

It works both your upper and lower body and also requires core stabilization to maintain proper form throughout.

Choose a lighter-weight kettlebell to start until you master this move.

  • Start by lying on your side and roll onto your back, holding the kettlebell close to your body with both hands.
  • Move the kettlebell into your right hand and extend your right arm up into the air.
  • Bring your right heel close to your butt.
  • Drive through your right heel and roll to your left elbow.
  • Push down with your left hand to a sitting position.
  • Then bring your left leg under your right leg and behind you until your left hand, left knee, and left foot are in a straight line.
  • Sit on your left heel and go into a tall kneel.
  • Then bring your left leg around until you are in a lunge position.
  • Stand up.
  • Reverse your movements to go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side of your body.
  • Try to do 6-8 reps on each side for 3 sets total.

Tricep Dip to Toe Touch

This full-body exercise will target your triceps, shoulders, core, and glutes.

In addition, the alternating motion will increase your heart rate and add some cardio to your workout.

  • Sit on the ground with your hands placed behind you and your knees bent in front of you.
  • Lift your butt up into the position to do a tricep dip.
  • Bend your elbows to dip down.
  • As you push back up, kick your left foot into the air and simultaneously bring your right hand up to your left foot.
  • Come back down to your original starting position and repeat on the other side, reaching your left hand to your right foot.
  • Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds.
  • Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat for a total of 3 sets.

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

Holly Smith, M.D., B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Father Project

Holly is board-certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly is a keen runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast. She has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, Olympic distance triathlons, half marathons, and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

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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 strength training over 40.

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Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

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