Ten Tips For a Fitter Leaner Body After 40

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When I started my training journey at 45, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. There was very little useful information I could find to help me. So what I did was follow a plan called Convict Conditioning, which is a progressive bodyweight program. That was all I had to go on. So I tried that for a few months without any guidance or posture correction, whilst also blindly repeating things I knew and learned when I was a teenager. 

After a year of work, nothing had changed. I had compounded a year’s worth of effort and discipline which gave me some value. But I looked and felt exactly the same, which I now know was primarily due to bad form.

Then a year later I discovered Mike Matthews’s Bigger, Leaner, Stronger, which got me on a road to recovery and success. I say “a” road, because it wasn’t necessarily “the” right road. But it was a good road, and it taught me some incredibly valuable information with regard to nutrition.

Training however was a different thing. I love Mike, and the methods in BLS are solid. But what wasn’t made clear, and what he maybe didn’t consider at the time, was that this training program was not for an out of shape 46 year old office guy who did not understand form and wrong movement patterns. This is almost certainly why he later released Muscle For Life, which along with Sal’s book The Resistance Training Revolution, would be my top two recommended books for anybody starting out on their health improvement journey.

Differences between a 40 Year Old Body vs a 20 Year Old

There are a lot of complex differences for a guy over 40 compared to a guy in his 20s. The stresses of life have taken its toll with work and kids etc, alongside the natural ageing process of time. This compounds over the years to produce a body of stress, imbalances, and unique movement patterns.

Between 21-45 my brain did not notice these changes, because your body adjusts to the imbalances to ensure you don’t injure yourself. Therefore, whatever your movement patterns are, is what your brain has programmed to tell you is correct. 

I still felt like the same person, so I believed my training was correct. But it was only after visiting my physiotherapist who pointed out how I was standing and moving, did I begin to understand why I wasn’t making any progress trying to train how I was..

Prioritise Correct Movement

In 2024, for the first time I am managing my training program by myself, because nobody knows my body better than me. That being said, I’m following a lot of protocols I have learnt over the years from the experienced coaches and educators I listen to and learn from, and continue to work with Ebegale Wong as my movement / strength / stretch / yoga coach specialist.

Mind Pump Episode 2235

In this episode of Mind Pump, the boys give ten valuable easy to implement tips that you can apply to your life which will give a great return on investment for a 40+ year old. The ten tips are (with time stamps):

  1. Use effective but less risky exercises (box squats, sled work, trap bar, unilateral work). (6:01)
  2. Go to bed and wake at the same time. (12:39)
  3. Cold rinse in the morning. (15:48)
  4. Eat high protein. (19:07)
  5. Drink 1/2 to 1 gallon of water. (22:07)
  6. No social media or news for the first 90 mins upon waking. (24:18)
  7. Gratitude before bed. (27:19)
  8. Box breathing before bed. (29:26)
  9. 5-minute movement every hour that you sit. (32:10)
  10. Eat easily digestible foods. (35:27)

If you want to learn more and dig deeper, listen to this podcast. You will also find there is a Mind Pump training program over 40 which the boys have just released for people over the age of 40. Anything that Mind Pump releases is going to be scientifically backed and incredibly effective. So I strongly encourage you to look into their paid programs to find one that works for you.

Use Effective But Less Risky Exercises

This is something I wish I knew from the beginning. Because if I was to start my fitness journey again, this is precisely what I would focus on first. I know this after 8 years of training with many multiple mistakes and injuries.

The ability to know how your body is supposed to move, and to be in control of your body in that movement is a beautiful thing to behold. Watch a yoga expert or a high level gymnast, and see how they flow. It’s like physical poetry in motion, and frankly it’s something I could watch all day.

Slow & Intentional Training Challenge

This is why I have slowed my training right down to miniscule movements with full control. Challenge yourself to do one single V-up as slowly as you can. Hold the position at full contraction, look at your naval, and squeeze your abs while breathing. Then lower your legs as slowly as you possibly can, while ensuring your abs are fully engaged at all times. 

As your feet near the ground, your body is screaming for you to let go. But don’t. Keep holding, keep slowly lowering, keep focusing on your abdominal engagement, keep breathing, and softly touch your heels back to the ground. That feeling of relief once you make it is worth the effort. And the burn you have in your abs will tell you how valuable these types of exercises are.

The same theory applies to all exercises, but I find it particularly helpful when working on bodyweight moves. The single seated hip flexor lift will have your quads on fire, and single leg bridges can awaken parts of your hamstrings which have been long dormant.

Embrace The Cramp

When you are rebuilding your body, you are awakening parts of your muscles which have not been activated for a long time. Your body has adjusted and takes the easy route for you to avoid such activity.

By slowing your movement down, by being precise and intentional with your moves, you are able to feel the incorrect movement patterns. Once you feel or see a movement pattern going off-line, you can return to the point before the incorrect movement, and push very slowly and precisely through. 

By doing this you can feel the awakening of dormant muscle parts, which often induces cramps. That cramp is something I’ve had to learn to embrace. I’ve even learned to enjoy them, or let’s say, I’ve learned to appreciate them for what they are. No matter how valuable that cramp is for you, I don’t think it’s actually possible to enjoy a cramp. But you can appreciate and respect it for what it is. The re-awakening of long dormant muscle fibres.

Listen to this podcast to learn more about the ten tips for a fitter and healthier body after 40. Live Stronger, Live Longer.

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