Building Muscle After 40

The Best Ways to Start Building Muscle After 40

Recently, I came across a post over at Bret Contreras’ (aka The Glute Guy) site. Bret’s article is titled “This is 40” and it truly is an inspiration to those looking to build muscle after 40. Bret’s article got me thinking, and writing, about building and maintaining muscle mass as the body naturally ages. In this article, we take a look at how you can build muscle through proper nutrition and exercise. After you wrap up here, head over to The Glute Guy’s site and take a look at what he’s been able to accomplish.

Building Muscle After 40

It’s important to understand that the methods for building methods at 40 are the same as building muscle at 20. The muscle building process never changes: take care of your body (nutrition and supplementation), and lift heavy weights (exercise). Put those two things together and you will build muscle.

Now, while the process remains the same, what changes is our ability to do at 40, what we once could do at 20. It’s no secret that as we age, our bodies aren’t capable of performing at the level they were during their peak years. So, let’s use that to our advantage.

Here at BioGains, we see a lot of guys in their 40’s that are either just getting into weight lifting, or are just getting back into weight lifting after some time off. We chalk this up to a lot of potential reasons such as more free time with the kids out of the house, or maybe a recent divorce. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help.

Eat Right and Eat Well

Your body is a temple, that’s what your taught. I believe that’s an old Kenny Chesney line. Anyways, that statement cannot be more true. What you put into your body, you will eventually get out.

In fact, no matter what your age is, nutrition is without a doubt the hardest part of building muscle. These days, we’re simply too face paced to properly fuel our bodies. But, if you can nail the nutrition, the weight lifting part is easy.

In this article we’ll focus more on nutrition, then touch on the easy muscle building weight training regime at the end.

Nutrition and Hydration

Nutrition fuels the body by providing it with the nutrients it needs to perform at an optimum level. No matter how much, or how frequently, you lift weights, your results will be severely lacking without proper nutrition.

Now, it’s important to note that it’s physically impossible to turn fat into muscle. So, if your goal is to lose weight and gain muscle, you must first lose weight, and then add muscle. Your route to muscle building will be slightly different than someone who is simply looking to build muscle on a thin or average frame. But rest assured it can be done.

For those simply looking to build muscle, it’s important to start with six meals per day. These meals should consist of roughly fifty percent of carbohydrates, thirty percent of protein and twenty percent of fats. This ratio will create the proper environment for muscles to grow.

Foods sources that include carbohydrates, proteins and fats should make up most of your grocery list. Carbohydrates offer body with the energy needed to lift weights and recover from training. Proteins will allow your cells to repair and grow. Hence a 200 pound male must look between two hundred and three hundred gram of protein to create muscle. Fats fuel the body and provide it with an energy source.

It should go without saying but I’ll say it anyways, water is required to keep the body healthy, hydrated, and performing at a high level. Three liters of water a day will flush the toxins and hydrate the body.

In addition to water, below is a list of foods that are ideal for gaining muscle. These foods should be mainstays on your grocery list.

Lean Beef

Lean beef is an essential part of the diet for anyone that is looking to gain muscle. Just three ounces of lean beef can inject over 150 calories into your body. In addition to the calories, lean beef provides your body with valuable nutrients to keep it firing on all cylinders. Lastly, lean beef provides your body with a blast of protein and a good amount of amino acids which both promote muscle growth.

Skinless Chicken

Skinless chicken is basically the ultimate source of protein. Regularly eating skinless chicken will allow your body to maintain its weight and gain muscle mass. Additionally, it will promote bone health, and repairing or maintaining muscle health after your workout.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a pure form of protein. Because the casein protein in cottage cheese is slowly digested by the body, it is a great source of protein. The body is able to use the casein protein for maintaining the muscles over an extended period of time. Additionally, Cottage cheese is is packed with important nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B12.


Eggs are a go-to breakfast food for any muscle builder. Loaded with large amounts of protein, vitamin D, fat, choline and amino acids, eggs are a must-have for serious bodybuilders. And in a world that makes it more costly for us to eat healthy, eggs are one of the more reasonably priced food items that promote excellent health. Add it all up and eggs should be a staple of any athlete or bodybuilders diet.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is the absolute must-have supplement for any bodybuilder, no matter what age. While found naturally in foods, it is more commonly taken as a supplement. The use of whey protein has become widespread due to it’s ability to produce an enormous amount of carbs, proteins, and calories, both quickly and efficiently. If you’re looking to gain large amounts of muscle mass quickly, look no further than a mass gainer supplement.

The Right Training Regime

Once you’ve nailed your dieting, you’re ready to hit the weights and maximize your time in the gym. Let’s face it. Our bodies can’t do what they did at 20. So, we must adapt. And while the 20 year old bodybuilder can get away with eating a burger and fries every now and then, the 40 year old bodybuilder isn’t so lucky.

The key to building muscle after 40 is getting the most of your workouts. Lifting weights causes your muscles to crash, and to fatigue, and nutrition allows your muscles to grow and rebuild. Over time, your muscles continuously get stronger and bigger.

So, how much should you be working out? First, aim to spend roughly 45 minutes to 60 minutes in the gym. Dedicate this time to doing nothing except lifting heavy weights. The heavier the weights, the more your muscles strain, and the quicker they grow stronger.

I see a lot of men in their 40s and 50s in the gym that just aren’t seeing the results that they want. And it’s simply because they’re not challenging themselves to obtain the results they want. You cannot lift weights that don’t challenge your muscles to adapt. Your muscles will only grow when they are damaged and repaired. In this respect, the lack of gains in men over 40 is due to a lack of effort and mental strength, more so than any lack of physical strength.

Next, develop a regime that targets a specific large muscle group each day: back, arms, legs, core, and chest. Then, allow your muscles proper time to recover after you work out that muscle group. The general rule of thumb is to allow two days between targeting a muscle group again. However, as we grow older, this time may need to be adapted to allow a proper recovery. Again, supplementation in the form of a post-workout recovery drink can help our bodies recover quicker and minimize soreness.

Lastly, remember to always alternate your workout every 4 to 6 weeks. This allows you to avoid “muscle memory” and prevent your body preparing for the upcoming workout. By changing your workout routine and exercises your body is on it’s toes and is forced to react and grow stronger.

One Added Note for Mass Gainers

For muscle mass, you’ll want to aim for less reps (4 to 7 reps) and more weight. If you’re doing 8 or more reps, the weight isn’t heavy enough, increase it!

In Short

Taking care of your body and lifting heavy will lead to enormous muscle gain – even if you’re over 40. But make sure that your body is prepared to make muscle gains with premium supplements like our whey protein or mass gainer.