Working out and lifting after 40

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March 5, 2019

I periodically change my lifting and cardio routine to keep my body from plateauing and to foster proper muscle growth. However, when the first few days, or even the first week of that change promotes some fatigue and a tad bit of muscle soreness. Usually, I just grin and bear it and the soreness and fatigue work their way out, but in that first week after a routine change, my body is showing me its limits and I may only go 3 times that week as opposed to 4 or 5.

For example: I might do 4 to 6 weeks of 5x5's bench, deads, squats, rows, and military presses (2 days per week) with other smaller muscle group exercises in between those days (2 to 3 days per week), alternating upper and lower body and / or muscle group areas.

Then, I'll keep doing bench, deads, squats, rows and military, but change the sets. For example, on bench, on my 5x5's, I'll do 5 x at 275, then switch to a 12-4-3-2-1-12 with the 12's at 235 and the 4-3-2-1 a pyramid with 4 at 285, 3 at 295, 2, at 305, and 1 at 315, then back down to 235 for a set of 12 (which I usually get failure around 7 or 8). I do similar sets on rows and military, but switch to leg press on a sled in substitute of the squats. The smaller muscle group routines usually stay the same with 3 sets of 10 with alternating exercises (i.e. for triceps, one day I'll do skull crushers, then the next time I'll do push downs on cables). One of the owners of the gym I work out in gave me this routine to try (12-4-3-2-1-12). Also wanted to know if anyone here did a similar workout and what kind of results you got.

For guys 40+, what have you guys done that helps you with these types of transitions in workouts? Also, what type of supplements and / or vitamins, and / or protein powders do you guys use?

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Title Working out and lifting after 40
Author dll142
Upvotes 29
Comments 44
Date 05 March 2019 03:52 PM UTC (2 years ago)
Subreddit askMRP
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[–]Cam_Winston2119 points20 points  (23 children) | Copy



6'6', down to 235 lbs (fasting FTW), been lifting for more than two decades. Natty. 50" chest, 18.5" biceps, 1200 club member.

First, the soreness is DOMS which comes about from either extreme stress or change. In this case, change. Extreme stretching at the end of the workout will remove more than half the lactic acid buildup. Congratulations, I just solved muscle soreness.

Not a typo. Implementing extreme stretching will pretty much make DOMS a non-issue. After your chest day, go stretch your pecs for 60 seconds (if you're doing it right, you'll start shaking 40 seconds in) and you won't be near as sore the next few days. Cuz you pushed through the lactic acid.

which I usually get failure around 7 or 8

Don't lift to failure. That really messes with your CNS, which is probably why you're having some issues. Leave one or two reps in the tank, and employ deload weeks once per month. Do your sets with pristine form, nice and slow cadence, and you'll grow. I'm still growing, I'm still getting stronger. Last week I set PRs on some sets (not 1RM, but for sets) while being on my 45th hour of a fast.

I'm working to build mass, not win a powerlifting contest, so I focus on form, time under tension and volume.

For guys 40+, what have you guys done that helps you with these types of transitions in workouts? Also, what type of supplements and / or vitamins, and / or protein powders do you guys use?

I change my routine every 4-12 weeks, depending upon when I get bored. Usually stay in the 6-12 rep range, so "heavy" routines will be around 6 reps for my lifts. If I can't make it to 4 reps, I lower the weight. Easier said than done cuz ego, but you won't build mass by pushing up heavy weight 2 or 3 times, you do it pushing heavy weight 8-12 times, for volume.

The only supplements I used to take for gainz was creatine. Nothing else is needed and you're tossing money away. All pre-workout drinks are a scam. If you need a boost, drink a cup of black coffee. I take stuff like calcium, fish oil or D for overall health. Gainz comes from food. If you're natty, the only thing you can ingest that'll be anything other than a rounding error is creatine. Don't buy aminos, don't buy anything. Eat eggs. Eat meat. Eat carbs on days you lift. I sometimes have a protein shake w/my meals because I'm usually having only one meal that day & it's hard to cram in all that protein from one meal, so I adapt.

Edit to add: Man, I'm so thankful I found this place.

[–]johneyapocalypseThe one that says "Bad Motherfucker"6 points7 points  (4 children) | Copy

Don't lift to failure. That really messes with your CNS

God damn I'd never heard of that but after reading about it believe it explains a lot and that I've experienced it for fucking decades.

Thanks, dude.

[–]BostonBrakeJob3 points4 points  (3 children) | Copy

Dunno if you're interested, but you can train your CNS as well.

Back when I was powerlifting I would load the bar for my goal comp weight +10-25# and just hold it. Only worked for squats and bench, never could figure out how to do this with deadlifts. Obviously you'll want a spotter for bench and some straps or spotter-bars on squat.

Banded squats and a Slingshot (made by Mark Bell) for bench are great tools for "overload training" as well. Just make sure to eat a little more and get your rest after this kind of training.

[–]CaptJohnLukeDiscard2 points3 points  (2 children) | Copy

Best thing I've found for deads is deficit lifting. Train for a while pulling from a slight height like a 45# plate and the floor feels easy.

[–]BostonBrakeJob2 points3 points  (1 child) | Copy

These were mandatory during comp training for that exact reason. I had to drop anywhere from 10-25# to do em though. I never did get the mechanics down for rack pulls either, but some of the guys could put an extra 50-75# on the bar for those and overload that way.

[–]Cam_Winston210 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Since I'm tall, I generally rack pull anything over 365, otherwise I'm basically doing another heavy squat day.

(noting for the record that I am not complaining about being tall, God.)

[–]itiswr1ttenRed Beret0 points1 point  (5 children) | Copy

Curious if you have a mirror for the pictures. The shoulder one is hard to visualize

[–]TheThirdT1 point2 points  (0 children) | Copy

The shoulder stretch sounds similar to the german hang. Pulling in and out of the german hang is a great mobility movement too.

[–]Cam_Winston210 points1 point  (3 children) | Copy

Here's a photobucket link. Pretend you're trying to walk away from the bar, leaning forward, to get the stretch in the delts.

[–]RPeed0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy

I love extreme stretching. But I can never get a stretch with this one. Is there a trick to the bar height or your hand spacing?

[–]Cam_Winston211 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

I generally use a smith machine or something similar, push the bar up a bit & drop to one knee, so my hands are much higher up than that photo. The gist is that my arms are as far back & up as far as I can reasonably take, then basically hang so that I can hold/stretch that position for 60 seconds. Since I'm on a knee, I'm not really hanging, but I lean towards the ground & the knee keeps me safe in case my hands slip off (never have), which lengthens the stretch as well as take my hands even higher. I do the same thing for biceps except my hands are on the other side of the bar. Killer bicep stretch.

I first read about Extreme Stretching back in 2013 and since then if I can make it 60 seconds (giggity) my DOMS is pretty much a non-issue.

Edit: Just looked at that photo again, I'm basically in that guy's stance, I just move the bar up one or two notches higher then drop to one knee and try to push my chest towards the ground.

[–]RPeed0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

OK I get it - that position is also how I do the bicep one.

Been on this bus a couple of years, I notice a lot of aesthetic improvement.

[–]fuckmrpRed Beret0 points1 point  (10 children) | Copy

Not all pre-workouts are bullshit, not miracles but not bullshit. Gotta know what ingredients you’re looking for.

citrulline malate performance

[–]Cam_Winston211 point2 points  (9 children) | Copy

Take creatine, keep the muscle saturated, recover quicker since the body isn’t replenishing fluid entirely as well as repairing fibers. And dirt cheap. The other stuff is like a woman spending $$$ on Jennifer Aniston’s moisturizer in hopes of thinking she’ll look like Rachel when any decent moisturizer will do.

The difference is akin to that rounding error I mentioned. Except in the bank account.

Edit: upon re-read, that comes across more aggressive than intended. Especially since it wasn't intended at all. Apologies.

YMMV, that's much more in line with my original opinion.

[–]fuckmrpRed Beret0 points1 point  (8 children) | Copy

DOMS is caused by micro tears in the muscle fiber, lactic acid is not doing what you think it is post workout. Your knowledge is outdated.

[–]Cam_Winston210 points1 point  (7 children) | Copy

I literally typed "repairing fibers" in the post you just replied to. I think we're just talking past each other. :)

[–]Cam_Winston210 points1 point  (6 children) | Copy

FYI, I'm not a certified anything nor do I claim to be a personal trainer. I'm just some dude who has been lifting since the Clinton administration, who gained > 30 lbs of muscle mass, passing along my empirical knowledge.

[–]fuckmrpRed Beret-1 points0 points  (5 children) | Copy

I literally typed "repairing fibers" in the post you just replied to. I think we're just talking past each other.

I read what you wrote, empirical knowledge and the assumption of the mechanism of action of these supplements are different things.

Creatine's primary benefit is facilitating ATP production which increases work capacity. With increased work capacity comes the possibility of more muscle tears, hence more DOMS.

recover quicker since the body isn’t replenishing fluid entirely as well as repairing fibers.

What you wrote above makes no sense. The body is not choosing between hydration or muscle repair. While creatine may also provide some benefit with muscle hydration, unless you're severely dehydrated, hydration does not greatly impact DOMS recovery.

Extreme stretching at the end of the workout will remove more than half the lactic acid buildup. Congratulations, I just solved muscle soreness.

Lactic acid build up is cleared from the muscle in a few hours regardless. DOMS usually begins 12- 24 hours post workout. Google it and show me a current, reputable source, that says lactic acid has anything to due with DOMS...

DOMS decreases over time as the body adjusts to the mechanics and work load of a lift. The more you train the less DOMS you will have. Genetics is also a factor.

Had you bothered to read the link I included about citrulline malate before spouting off your bullshit about creatine, you'd have read the following:

"A significant decrease of 40% in muscle soreness at 24 hours and 48 hours after the pectoral training session and a higher percentage response than 90% was achieved with CM supplementation."

Creatine is not the only game in town these days...

Everything I wrote above can be backed by current studies but even then, I'll throw away all this knowledge and assume a new position on this stuff the minute it's dis-proven. What I won't do is learn a thing once and assume it's true forever.

Empty Your Cup Bro

[–]hystericalbonding1 point2 points  (3 children) | Copy

+1 on all your comments here. Less DOMS with pre-workout caffeine as well. Nobody has looked at whether anything is gained by combining citrulline malate and creatine. The malic acid probably helps through more efficient ATP production. Citrulline without malic acid inhibits performance in the gym.

Compression garments reduce DOMS and speed up recovery, but they may also inhibit muscle hypertrophy from a single session, since they help to clear metabolites faster, doing the opposite of what you get with occlusion training. That being said, it's an easy way to lessen DOMS and compression shirts look good.

[–]Cam_Winston211 point2 points  (2 children) | Copy

Take my upvote for the correct usage of so many multi-syllabic words.

[–]hystericalbonding1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy


Totally agree that you guys were talking past each other. Your strategies are great advice, even if the "why" is out of date. Internet arguments are gay.

Taking creatine to eke out an extra rep seemed important in my 20s. Now it's hard to remember why I bothered. Train. Eat healthy food with protein. Get sleep. Have fun!

[–]Cam_Winston21-1 points0 points  (0 children) | Copy

While creatine may also provide some benefit with muscle hydration, unless you're severely dehydrated, hydration does not greatly impact DOMS recovery.

DOMS wasn't a part of my comment about creatine. Which is why I typed "recover quicker" (from the workout, which was the context). Although I can understand my using the word "recover" could be inferred as "recover from soreness", but I meant "recover from the workout" since the body isn't having to replenish the fluid levels in the muscle (as much). I'm pretty sure I pointed to stretching as my mechanism to avoid soreness/DOMS. Which costs me nothing.

My comments about creatine pertained to gainz, not DOMS or soreness.

Creatine helps keep the muscle saturated with fluid (hence the water retention most people get when they take it). An intense training session can cause depletion of the muscle's glycogen/fluid levels.

Had you bothered to read the link I included about citrulline malate..

Dude, feel free to drink whatever pre workout drink you wish at your leisure. I don't even take creatine, which is why I used past-tense in my phrasing.

I spend zero dollars in mixes to avoid DOMS/soreness.

You do you.

[–]dll142[S] -1 points0 points  (0 children) | Copy

Thanks for the advice. I will incorporate more stretching and leave a couple of reps in the tank.

[–]0io-Tsundere7 points8 points  (2 children) | Copy

If your testosterone is at all low, fixing it will have a huge impact. Either through TRT or AAS.

If you're natty and haven't plateaued, I would say keep going with what you've been doing. Make sure your diet is on point. Vitamin D, DHEA, maybe pregnenolone, lecithin, pygeum, B-vitamins, vitamin C, arginine, citrulline. I like Now Sports for supplements but I'm sure there are other brands that work fine.

Post 40 I lifted hard for a year and plateaued, with sleep and diet on point, then kept lifting hard for 3 more years without a lot to show for it (really plateaued). Still fit and lean, but no major gains. T-levels were low. Now on T, getting sick gains again. It's awesome. I wish I had looked into it a decade earlier.

If you're doing everything right, at some point you will have reached your natural potential. If you're healthy I would just keep it up and try not to get injured and stay natty. If you're not where you want to be, it might be time to look in to testosterone or steroids.

[–]Big_Daddy_PDX2 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy

How did you find a guideline for daily doses of those supplements?

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

My T levels are good for my age, but I need better nutrition and vitamins. I recently put together a better meal plan and have added more protein.

[–]echo21123 points4 points  (2 children) | Copy

Great thoughts on CNS fatigue. I’m 60+, lift 3 days, run 3 days. 5’9”, 218, 9%. Was really losing my gains all of a sudden, did some research and came across CNS fatigue. Described me to the letter. Completely overhauled my lifting routine and cut back on hard run. All is coming back as before.

[–]BarracudaRP1 point2 points  (1 child) | Copy

I’m 60+, 5’9”, 218, 9%

Hell yes, man! You're setting a high bar for the rest of us.

[–]echo21122 points3 points  (0 children) | Copy

Thank you. I enjoy it, but it’s getting harder to keep up as I age.

[–]SteelToeShitKickerRed Beret2 points3 points  (1 child) | Copy

For example, on bench, on my 5x5's, I'll do 5 x at 275

Damn, 275lbs for 5x5 on bench? Pretty good man.

Also, what type of supplements and / or vitamins, and / or protein powders do you guys use?

TRT, but you sound like you are doing pretty good. Might be worth it to get tested so you have a baseline as you get older.

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Thanks. I've always been naturally strong. Don't get me wrong, I struggle with the 5x5's at 275. Even harder as I age.

[–]hystericalbonding0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

For guys 40+, what have you guys done that helps you with these types of transitions in workouts?

Start below the sets, reps, or weight that I did with those movements last time. When in doubt, start lower. Ramp up intensity and volume from there. Jim Wendler's stuff influenced me.

For example, I reintroduced incline dumbbell bench press last month. I am stronger than I was when I did that movement last, but I started below my previous volume and intensity. I did 2x10 at a lower weight than my previous 3x15 working weight. There was minimal soreness, so I added volume for the next session. In under a month I was beyond my previous working weight.

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Introducing inclines is a good idea. I've switched from flat bench + overhead presses to an incline as part of a work out in the past and noticed a significant difference in my size in my shoulders and upper chest.

[–]Reach180Red Beret0 points1 point  (5 children) | Copy

What's your goal?

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (4 children) | Copy

Add to my current muscle mass and reduce body fat. I want to get my BF below 12%. I'm sitting just above that now. I need this for better definition.

[–]Reach180Red Beret0 points1 point  (3 children) | Copy

And where are you at now? You're fairly mostly looking to reduce body fat?

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (2 children) | Copy

I'm about 15-16% bf. I got these measurements from the owner of the gym I work out in. I'm 6'1" 237, I need to get down to 225. Also got these estimates from the gym owner as well, so I'm thinking 12 lbs of body fat, which is about a 35,000 - 40,000 calorie deficit I need to create over a 120 day period. Hard battle but a realistic and obtainable goal.

[–]Reach180Red Beret0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

So your reply here shows you 'get it' in a way your original post doesn't. It's diet. Losing body fat is not a function of your workout. If you want to drop bodyfat, you just want a work-out that doesn't work against you. At least for guys like you and I who have a solid base of strength & muscle mass.

The math with calories and such works better as a compass vs. as a map. Directionally true, but too many moving parts to be able to say, for example, that a simple caloric deficit equal to your desired weight loss is the key.

So I'm 40 years old, 6'3, 240 right now. I was probably 245 last year at this time and by early summer I was walking around at between 230 and 225....12-13% bf. Bought new clothes for a wedding because I was so much smaller - size 34 pants, 48R coat.

Here's what's worked for me:

  • Minimally taxing strength workouts during a cut. Train to maintain strength. Up your weights about half as often as your program says to, if at all. I split my days into bench/deadlift and press/squat. OG 531 full body program with no supplemental sets. Also did dips or pull ups between each set. Lower reps....5-8 on those. Most important thing I discovered: Every time I tried to sneak in a little more volume, a little nudge toward hypertrophy, an extra assistance lift, etc.....I couldn't stick to the diet. When I stuck to the minimalist routine, diet was easy and fat fell off.

  • Followed this diet to the letter. I've since read Martin Berkhan's book, and realized the linked routine is not exactly leangains. But I dropped fat better on the linked routine - minimal (<60) carbs on off days seems to have been a key for me.

  • Didn't do cardio, aside from daily 2-3 mile easy walks with my wife. Same as with the lifting, if I ever added more intense cardio than this, I couldn't not cheat a little here and there on the diet.

I did this from March - July. Worked pretty well through June. In July, it became clear that I was losing more muscle than I wanted to. I suspect that will happen on a prolonged cut. Can't starve yourself forever and expect to stay a monster.

In terms of supplements, I just did fish oil and zma. I cut out creatine when I cut weight just because the lower number on the scale gives me a little momentum in the beginning. Plus I'm not really pushing myself on the weights, so probably little benefit to taking it. Protein was usually just a zero carb whey isolate.

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Thanks man! I hit the link on the diet and will follow as well. I've always heard abs are made in the kitchen. Again, thanks! I'll post an update in a few months.

[–]Frosteecat0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Jesus I’ve got work to do. Almost 50 and you guys are crushing it/me. Thanks for the motivation! 🙌🏼

[–]idreamofkitty0 points1 point  (1 child) | Copy

45 here. Fairly fit for my age. Injury prevention is a big component of my workout. Rotator cuff work, face pulls, static partial squats (dont know what its called) for my knees. All sets start light and gradually get heavier with the intent to do exercise specific warmups. Lots of stretching. The instant something hurts I stop and rest that body part until it no longer hurts. 2 heavy workouts and one lighter workout a week. Walk a LOT! Walking keeps the body lubricated in my opinion.

Also, look on youtube for exercises and machines to avoid. There are some bad ones out there e.g. knee extensions. Athleanx is a good channel on youtube.

[–]dll142[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Walking and stepper machines are good. I do run 3 to 4 times per week for short distances for cardio as well. My wife is a 5k runner and runs alot. She is the same age as me and always complains about knee pain. I don't want to be in that boat, so I try to avoid excessive running, but it does work to melt away body fat fast.

[–]nantucketghost0 points1 point  (0 children) | Copy

Oh, just saw this post. Soreness from working out and not enough recovery time? BCAA supplements. No shit. Branch Chain Amino Acids. Building blocks that are needed.

After a heavy heavy lifting day I would have a protein shake with some BCAA powder in it. Huge difference in recovery time.

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