While folks over 40 may be outnumbered in the gym these days, that doesn’t mean you still can’t make incredible gains. But, the calendar necessarily requires some adjustments to your workouts, especially the older you get.
1. The Importance of Good Form Supersedes All Else.
Your body is less tolerant of bad form as you age, which oftentimes becomes more pronounced based on the heaviness of the load and the more you train to failure. Heavy, multi-joint exercises with triple drops invite opportunities to break form and cause injury.
2. Lighten Up on Single-Joint Movements.
Former athletes and longtime trainers know that the cumulative damage done to joints as you age, especially your elbows, shoulders and knees, makes them more vulnerable to injury. While multi-joint exercises spread the stress across several muscle groups and joints, single-joint movements don’t, which makes them potentially more dangerous. Avoid momentum at all costs.
3. Follow a More Extensive Warm-Up.
Every workout should begin with a warm-up. But, when you’re over 40, it becomes imperative, because of accumulated injuries over time and advancing mobility and flexibility issues. Including dynamic stretching such as high kicks, alternating knee to chest, walking quad stretch (heel to glute and lightly pull), inchworms and even foam rolling can complement your warm-up.
4. Use Planned De-Load Weeks More Frequently.
Whereas younger lifters can push full bore in the gym all the time, older lifters need planned de-load phases that can last more than a week. That means backing off in your workouts, but that doesn’t mean lounging around the house. Use these phases to focus on perfecting your form. Do 70 percent of the volume that you normally train with.