5 Tips for Building Muscle After 40

Hitting the big 4-0 is NOT the death knell of your muscle and strength...I can promise you that.

You can FIGHT that decline very, very effectively with the right training and nutrition.

You DO have to change the way you approach both of those, but speaking from experience (I'm 45 now myself), you can absolutely still keep progressing.

Right now (in some exercises, not all), I'm stronger than I've EVER been in my entire life...probably a bit more insane, too).

This is a picture of me (Nick Nilsson) at 45 years old.

This is a picture of me (Nick Nilsson) at 45 years old.

Here's how I've changed things up in order to keep progessing like this.


1. Fewer Heavy Workouts Per Week.

I train four times a week and I usually do something very heavy twice a week or so, at most. I find if I go heavy more than that, my recovery suffers.

So I'll generally do something heavy (like loaded carries or a powerlifting-style or strongman-style workout) then follow it the next day with a lighter, bodybuilding-style workout.

This way I can keep moving forward in loading while not crushing my recovery.


2. I Stopped Eating Lunch (and sometimes breakfast)

I eliminated lunch as a meal and it works like a charm.

I generally eat two meals a day. Breakfast is always low-carb (6 whole eggs and 3 tsp of chia seeds) and I'll eat that anywhere between 8 am to 1 pm (weird schedule sometimes). I find if I eat carbs for breakfast it makes me sluggish.

Sometimes I'll do an intermittent fast and go 24 hours between meals, depending on my goals...I'll do that likely once or twice a week.

Dinner is the biggest meal of the day, whether I'm on a fat-loss diet or trying to gain muscle and strength. And sometimes it is a VERY big meal (like 4-5,000 calories in one meal big meal). I train late afternoon, so it works out that dinner follows a few hours after training.

I always take digestive enzymes with every meal, to help with digestion. This is important because as we get older, our supply of enzymes decreases.

It's also one of the reasons that eliminating that middle meal worked so well for me....fewer meals means more time between meals to replenish enzymes.


3. I Don't Do As Much Intense Volume

Basically, there will be days I'll do a lot of volume...but that volume won't be at a high intensity (as measured by % 1 RM).

And there will be days I'll do high intensity, but with very little volume on the top-end sets. I'll generally ramp up to peak weight and do one set with that, then I know I'm done and I'll end the ramp up there.

That still allows me to lift heavy, but only in a very targeted manner. And once that top-end set is done, I can feel that there's no point in doing another.

This maintains and builds strength without hammering down my recovery too much.


4. I'll Take a Day Off If I feel I Need It

There was a time where I would have a set program that I'm following (or in my head) and I would power through it, regardless of how I felt.

There is a time and place for that and sometimes I DO still do that if a program I'm doing calls for it and there is a REASON that it calls for it (like controlled overtraining where that kind of thing is necessary).

If I'm just doing an "instinctive" type of approach, like I am right now, if I feel I'd be better off taking a day of rest, I'll do it and not feel a shred of guilt about it, because I know it'll just allow to go harder in my next workout.


5. I Stopped Taking in Simple Post-Workout Carbs

This actually made a big difference for me in terms of results. I used to take in about 40 grams of sugar (along with protein) right after a workout.

What this does is crush your testosterone AND GH levels, right when they're high from training, and decreases both the fat-loss AND muscle-building effects of the workout.

Bodybuilding workouts don't dramatically dip into glycogen stores that much that you really need those immediate post-workout carbs.

Take protein, sure, but save the carbs for your post-workout meal a few hours later, once your hormones have stabilized again.


What Else Can You Do to Stay Anabolic After 40?

There is plenty.

One option is a program called (oddly enough ;) Anabolic After 40...

This is a program put together by Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson (you might recognize his name from the transformation he achieved using several of Steve's programs a number of years ago).

It keeps in mind a lot of the things I talked about above...the adjustments you need to make in your training and eating to maximize your testosterone levels and muscle growth after age 40.

Click here to read more about Anabolic After 40 now.



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