As we age, our reason for working out changes, right?
We go from wanting beach muscles in our 20s to wanting to be strong and functional in our 40s and older. It's no longer about flexing. It's about being able to play with your kids and move around without aches and pains!
I remember when I first started looking for workout routines over 20 years ago. I would thumb through fitness magazines and books, looking for different exercises to try.
Even back then, the amount of information on workouts was completely overwhelming. Today, with the internet, there are literally THOUSANDS of different workouts you can try. Every Joe Shmoe with an iPhone is now giving his two cents on workout advice.
Here’s the truth: For guys like you and me who are getting older, we need to make sure we are doing the right (safe and effective) workouts for our bodies. That’s why in this short workout guide, we are going to cover the three most effective workout routines for men over 40.
In this article, you'll learn:
- Workout 1: Fat Burning with High-Intensity Training for a fast metabolism.
- Workout 2: The Full Body Strength Routine to build lean muscle.
- Workout 3: Flexibility and Mobility Exercise to avoid injury and heal nagging injuries.
Spoiler alert! There’s also a fourth bonus workout, but I’ll leave you to find out what that is later. For now, keep reading to get into the top three most effective workout routines for men over 40.
Workout 1 – High-Intensity Interval Training
Goal: Burn fat as efficiently as possible.
As busy guys in our 40s, we need workouts that focus on burning off belly fat and increasing our metabolism … in as little time as possible.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is our saving grace.
It’s quick, efficient, and gets results in less than 30 minutes per session.
What is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?
HIIT workouts alternate short bursts of high intensity (maximum effort) with periods of low intensity (active rest).
It has been scientifically proven to increase metabolic rate and improve heart health.
I'm sure you'll agree these are worthwhile benefits for guys like us, especially as we get older.
How do I do a HIIT training routine?
HIIT sessions can be done with any exercise, whether it’s a piece of cardio equipment, weights, or body weight.
I consider HIIT one of the best workout routines for men over 40 due to its efficiency and ability to get the job done.
What does a HIIT training routine look like?
An example of a HIIT workout that can be performed on any piece of cardio equipment:
- 3-minute low-intensity warm-up
- 30 seconds high intensity (exertion level 9 or 10)
- 30 seconds low intensity (exertion level 4)
- Repeat 20 times
- 3-minute low-intensity cool down
This bodyweight HIIT workout can be done at home in 6 minutes without ANY equipment!
Workout 2 – Full Body Strength Training
Goal: Increase all-round strength and muscle size
Have you seen the 2-muscle-group split routines from muscle magazines, telling you to do ‘back and biceps’ or ‘chest and triceps’ once per week?
If you have, I need to tell you that unless you’re a seasoned bodybuilder in your 20s or 30s, these routines won't have as much of an effect as full-body strength training.
Full body strength training helps us build the kind of body that makes us look like superheroes to our kids and keeps us easy on the eye to our wives or girlfriends.
How will it help me?
It helps us increase lean muscle and build strength. Lean muscle tissue increases metabolism and, in turn, helps us burn more fat.
It is so important, in our 40s, to do strength training exercises to maintain or increase our muscle mass.
The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ could not be more apt for this subject.
Our lean muscle starts to deteriorate as we get into our 40s, and the only way to stop the effect is to train our muscles.
Resistance exercises — whether that is bodyweight or with weights — are the way forward.
How do I do a Full Body Strength Training Routine?
Full body strength training is best done using movements that cover multiple muscle groups.
Exercises like squats, deadlifts, clean and press, and pull-ups are the ones to go for. As you progress, you can even combine these.
One of my favorite exercises is deadlift into clean and press. Get 15 of those bad boys out, and you’ll be pumped! When it comes to workout routines for men over 40, this one covers all the bases.
What does a full-body strength workout look like?
Here's an example session for you to try out:
- Warm-up: 5 minutes rower, skipping, cross-trainer, or similar
- Legs: 3 x 10-12 squats (with a barbell or holding dumbbells/kettle-bells)
- Back: 3 x 10-12 rows (with barbell or dumbbell)
- Chest: 3 x 10-12 dumbbell chest press (safer than a barbell for us older guys)
- Shoulders: 3 x 10-12 dumbbell shoulder press
- Finisher: 2 x 12 reps dumbbell deadlifts (keep your back upright and core tight)
- Cooldown: 5 minutes treadmill or similar
What if I don't have access to weights?
If you don’t have access to weights, you can still do a great full-body strength workout using bodyweight exercises like this one:
- Warm-up: 5 minutes rower, skipping, cross-trainer, or similar
- Legs: 3 x 45 seconds jump squats
- Back: 3 x 10-12 pull-ups (or rows)
- Chest: 3 x 15-25 push-ups
- Shoulders: 3 x 15-25 incline push-ups (feet elevated)
- Cooldown: 5 minutes walk outside
This 40-minute full-body workout is great for strength training and optimizes your time with a superset workout plan!
Workout 3 – Flexibility and Mobility
Goal: To avoid injury and keep away aches and pains
We all know about the aches and pains, the stiff back, and the clicking ankles, don’t we?
We are getting older, yes, but that doesn’t mean we have to put up with aching joints and painful muscles. They can be fixed, believe it or not!
Warming up well and stretching is a HUGE part of exercising. If you’re not warming up before exercise, you’re setting yourself up for pain, discomfort, and probably injury.
Cold muscles don't like to be stretched!
The best example I ever heard during my PT training was about muscles being like taffy. If you pull cold taffy, what happens? It snaps. What happens if you pull warm taffy? It stretches. Think of your muscles as that taffy.
How do I do a flexibility and mobility routine?
Before your workouts, I always recommend the following:
- 3-5 minutes of light cardio warm-up (skipping, jumping jack, biking, or rowing)
- Foam rolling of parts of your body that feel tight (back, shoulders, legs).
- 5 minutes of warm-up exercises for your shoulders, knees, and lower back.
After your workouts, I recommend the following:
- Do 5 minutes of cool down on a treadmill or similar
- Static stretches held for 30 seconds for each muscle group you just exercised.
Focus on particular areas of discomfort, such as:
Lower back pain:
Pain here would be eased by strengthening your core muscles and stretching your hamstrings, lower back, hip flexors, and gluteal muscles.
Pain in your knees, either during or after activity, would be helped by proper warm-up and mobility, as well as stretching your quad muscles.
Shoulder pain and roundness are usually caused by a tight chest and a weak back. The cure is to stretch your chest and strengthen your back.
Try these 10 stretches for normal people that you should do every day!
BONUS Workout — “The Healthy Eating Workout”
Goal: Keep us healthy and lose fat
All the workout routines for men over 40 we have shown you above WILL NOT WORK without good nutrition.
A good, healthy meal plan means we give our bodies exactly what it needs to work properly.
Every part of our body relies on good nutrition to function as it should. Eating badly makes us fat and puts us at higher risk of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer.
I'm sure you'll agree that's not where we want our lives heading. The good news is that good nutrition does not need to be difficult and complicated.
Here at the Fit Father Project, we teach guys how to keep healthy eating simple by following our “1-Day Weight Loss Meal Plan” For Men Over 40.
How do I put together a healthy eating plan?
One of the key healthy eating tips we advocate is creating a weekly FOOD PREPARATION RITUAL.
Personally, I cook once or twice per week and store my food for when I need it. Check out the picture on the right to see what 1 week of healthy meals looks like for me.
All that takes just 30 minutes to prepare and cook!
- Good protein sources: eggs, chicken, turkey, and lean beef
- Good carb sources: sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal
- Healthy fat sources: nuts, ¼ avocado, ½ tablespoon olive oil, and seeds
Use a mix of these foods and follow our ‘Perfect Plate’ guidelines:
- ¼ of your plate is protein
- ¼ of your plate is carbs/starches
- ½ of your plate is veggies
This simple method makes it easier to always eat healthily and stay on track with your diet!
Exercise Isn't Always Easy, But It's Worth It!
As we get older and have more responsibility, it’s not always easy to find time to work out and stay in shape. I feel these three workout routines for men over 40 are exactly what you need to stay healthy, lose fat, get strong, and avoid injury.
For most of us, it’s no longer about flashing the beach muscles or comparing who can bench the most. It’s about feeling healthy, being active with our family, and having our body work properly without hurting!
If the workout routines above have whet your appetite, then click the link below and take a look at our video of the ‘24-Min Metabolism Boosting Workout For Busy Fathers’.
If you have enjoyed this article and think it may benefit a friend, partner, family member, colleague, roommate, cousin, or acquaintance, make sure you share it with them so they don’t miss out!
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*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 workout routines for men over 40.