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The Best Way to Strength Train for Men Over 40

We’ve all heard of the "middle age spread." The growing of our bellies and thighs once we reach the age of 35 or 40. The male body is in peak physical condition in its 20s, but by the time you reach your mid-30s, your fitness is on the decline. Thankfully, resistance training can help you to maintain a good fitness level, but it will take a lot more work once you reach 35 or 40.

If you are planning on taking up or resuming strength training in your 40s, here are a few pieces of advice to help you train right and avoid injuries.

Train Hard, but Not Too Hard

As you age, your body takes longer to recover from intense physical exertion and strain. You're getting back into strength training is a good thing, as it gives you a chance to push yourself hard. But don't go too hard, not initially at least. Give your muscles, bones, and joints a chance to acclimate to the strain of resistance training. After a month or so, you can increase the intensity of your workout, but for now, take it easy and focus on learning the proper form, improving your cardiovascular conditioning, and enhancing mobility.

Work With a Trainer

No matter how much experience you think you have, working with a trainer is always a good way to go. A trainer can help you to correct improper form or posture, create a tailor-made workout and diet program to promote strength gains and fat burning and help to push you hard. Unless you've been training for years, you can benefit from the advice and counsel of someone who has dedicated their careers to studying the human body and the way it works.

Eat Right

Your diet is easily as important as your workout! You need to eat a lot more protein, moderate your carb intake, and get enough healthy fats. You also need more minerals (iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, etc.) to keep your bones, muscles, and joints healthy. You'll also need to watch your quantities, as it can be much harder to work off those extra pounds once you reach the age of 40. Go for balanced, healthy, and raw as much as possible!

Do It Regularly

If your goal is to get fit, lose weight, improve your strength, and decrease the effects of aging (muscle wasting, bone density loss, etc.), you need to train at least 3 days a week. This will allow you to hit all of the muscles in your upper body, core, and lower body. If necessary, add a fourth day each week to allow for additional training. But more than 4 days is too much! You need to focus on your cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, and mobility as well. Spend the other two days (not counting your "rest" day) doing martial arts, yoga, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, stretching, and doing exercise that improves these other important pillars of fitness.

Don't Overdo Your Volume

The "volume" of your workout takes into account the number of reps and sets you do. Overdo it on the volume, and your body will have a harder time recovering. You should limit yourself to no more than 30 sets per workout, with at least 20 sets to ensure that you get a solid workout without pushing your body beyond its limits.

Just because you're over 40, that doesn't mean you're past your physical prime. You can get into great shape thanks to strength training — just be safe and do it right!

[Image via Getty]

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