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Training Over 40

Updated: Sep 14, 2022

When it comes to working out, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is why you are training in the first place.

Common answers are:

  • So insert name here will notice my new rockin bod

  • So my spouse will think I’m attractive

  • To look better for myself

  • To add years onto my life

  • So I can play with my kids/grandkids

All are great reasons. Yes some are a little more vain than others, but as long as it gets you in the gym it’s a good reason in my book.

This article is going to be geared more towards the second half of those answers listed above. This is for those people who don’t just want to look good for a vacation or a wedding.

It’s for the people who want to be fit and strong as long as possible.

Those of us who want to be on the DILF/MILF and eventually a GILF plan.

If you need to go google those terms go ahead. I’ll be waiting here when you get back…

Now that we’re back, let’s talk about how to get fit and stay that way for the long haul.

When we go to the gym it is very common to see people on two ends of the spectrum.

There are those who are ego lifting on the leg press with hundreds of pounds who barely bend their legs. Then there are those who are on cardio machines for hours and lifting little pink weights.

Both of these approaches are not ideal for lifelong fitness.

Before you go to the gym it is important to establish what you are trying to achieve. If you want to maximize your quality of life and look incredible at the same time there will be three things to focus on.

  1. Strength

  2. Hypertrophy

  3. Cardiovascular Health

Strength is a relative term and really just means lifting more weight over time regardless of what exercises you are doing.

Hypertrophy is just a fancy word for muscle building.

Cardiovascular health is exactly as it sounds. Keeping your ticker healthy.

Strength & Hypertrophy

Reps & Sets

You can achieve the first two goals by sticking to moderate rep ranges (6-15) and moderate sets (3-5 per exercise, 20ish per workout).


The next thing to do would be to figure out what exercises to do. In most cases you would reach your goals using a mix of mostly compound (3-6 exercises) and a few isolation (2-4 exercises) per workout.

Compound lifts include:

  • Squats

  • Deadlifts

  • Bench Press

  • Rows

  • Chinups/Pulldowns

Isolation lifts include:

  • Bicep Curls

  • Calf Raises

  • Tricep Extensions

  • Hamstring Curl machines

Another thing to focus on would be your core. However, i'm not talking about crunches at all. The core exercises that will serve you best so that you can avoid throwing your back out or slipping a disk would be those that focus on stability.

Core Stability exercises include:

  • Planks

  • Hollow holds

  • Pallof Presses

  • Farmer/Suitcase Carries

  • Bear Crawls

  • Deadbugs

  • Birddogs


Once you have picked out your sets, reps and exercises the next on the list would be the weights you choose. One of the best ways to figure out the right weight is to aim for an RPE goal for each exercise.

What in the hell is RPE?

RPE is the rate of perceived exertion.

What it does is help measure how close to failure you are. It is a scale of 1-10. So if you go to absolute failure with perfect form, that would be an RPE 10. If you had 1 rep left before failure and you stopped that would be RPE 9.

If the goal is to train for longevity and to get stronger over time, your sweet spot will be around RPE 8. This will ensure you are pushing your body hard enough to adapt but will also leave enough fuel in the tank to help you recover optimally for your next workout.

This brings us to our next topic, and possibly the most important…


Early on in training this factor is usually overlooked. Sleep isn’t exactly a priority. Neither is nutrition, a proper warmup, cool down, or active recovery days.

When we don’t pay attention to recovery it can lead to a lack of results and even injury.

Another thing to consider is that as we age, our rate of recovery is usually a lot slower.

Just take hangovers for example.

When you are 20 years old in college you can drink for days and barely feel it. When you are 50 you have a couple beers at a wedding and are recovering for days.

So if you are training every single day of the week, only getting 4 hours of sleep, and living off of fast food, you probably won’t get the results you want, along with feeling like crap.

That being said, if you want to optimize your recovery here are a few things to focus on:

  • Sleeping 7-9 hours a night

  • Eating protein & veggies every meal

  • Walking 2-3x for 10-20 minutes daily

  • Proper warmup & cooldowns for workouts

  • Do your best to manage stress outside of the gym


Now the last thing on the list is Cardiovascular Health.

What we already talked about will help a ton when it comes to cardio, especially if you stick to short rest times like 60-120 seconds between sets.

However, if you really want to optimize your heart health and recovery, these two things are essential to your workout program.

  1. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

  2. Low Intensity Steady State (LISS)


Everyone and their mother has heard of HIIT, and for good reason.

When focusing on heart health, intervals need to have a place in your program. They take very little time and could literally put years on your life over time.

When it comes to time splits you want to keep it short with a lot of rest time.

Some good ones to use are:


  • 10 sec / 50 sec

  • 20 sec / 40 sec

  • 30 sec / 30 sec

  • 60 sec / 60 sec

Doing 5-10 rounds of these intervals should be plenty.


For Low Intensity Steady State cardio, you would want to keep a consistent pace for a longer period of time.

The goal should be to do between 20-60 minutes. Just be sure to go at a pace where you are a little winded, but you can still hold a conversation.

When it comes to exercises, you want to be sure to pick exercises that you can do without beating up your body in the process.

Some great options are:

  • Running

  • Rower

  • Ski Erg

  • Sled Drag or Push

  • Bike

  • Swimming

So what should a week of training look like?

Ideally you want 2-4 workouts with weights and 1-2 days of cardio.

Sample Week

Monday: Weights

Tuesday: HIIT

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Weights

Friday: LISS

Weekend: Off

Once you have done a week like the one outlined you can make a judgement if you can handle more.

If you feel a little sore for a day or two, you have struck gold. That is right where you want to be. If you feel like you are completely fresh to start each week, you may need another day or two of the weights.

At the end of the day, the golden rule is to listen to your body. Let this guide be a starting point for you. Make adjustments as needed, and push yourself as best you can.

If you need any help in setting up your own workout, feel free to reach out to me at

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