Are you looking for a meaningful, versatile fitness routine to keep you healthy and fit? Are you a male over age 40? If you answered yes to these two questions, then you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’ll highlight 15 of the top exercises for men over 40. These exercises were specifically chosen to provide the kind of workout that males need after 40, as the body begins to change with age. There’s nothing saying that younger men can’t also use this advice, of course, but it’s really meant for men over 40 who want to stay in shape and remain healthy as they age to 50, 60, and beyond.
As with all of our guides, it’s important to note that older men, or those who have existing health conditions or restrictions, should consult a doctor or healthcare professional before beginning an exercise or fitness routine. This guide features exercises that can be dangerous for individuals with bone or tissue problems, heart problems, and other chronic or acute health conditions. If, however, you are in good health, and looking to stay that way, then this is definitely an exercise guide for you!
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The goals for most exercises and fitness routines aimed at men over 40 are largely similar to those aimed at younger demographics. Specifically, most of these exercises seek to do one (or more) of the following: 1) build or retain muscle mass, 2) burn calories to help maintain or lose weight, 3) maintain or improve strength, and 4) improve energy, cardiac output, and stamina. All of these goals are important for fitness at any age.
However, as men get older, it becomes even more important to get sufficient workouts in all of these key areas, since hormone levels in the body start to decrease, and metabolism starts to slow. Without a sufficient fitness routine with diverse exercises, men over 40 will find that it is far easier to lose muscle, gain weight, become exhausted more quickly, and see strength and endurance start to decline. It may require a bit more work to achieve the same kinds of results as younger men, but with the right exercises, it’s entirely possible to remain fit, strong, and healthy long after 40!
Below, we highlight the top 15 exercises for men over 40. Just a note of caution before we begin; however – be sure to read up, watch video tutorials, or get help from a professional trainer before using any equipment or completing any exercises that you are unfamiliar with. Also, remember to always warm up and stretch before any workout so that you avoid straining or injuring yourself!
Running or jogging may seem simplistic, but it’s enormously beneficial. In fact, the simplicity can be a major advantage, too – it doesn’t require anything but a place to run or jog, and a good pair of shoes. No fancy or expensive equipment is required! Running or jogging works out several muscle groups, primarily those in the legs and thighs, and also is a great way to increase heart rate, breathing, and blood flow, serving as an excellent cardio and endurance/stamina workout as well.
While swimming does require equipment (a pool to swim in), many gyms, fitness centers, and publicly-available facilities exist today and are well worth seeking out. Like running or jogging, swimming provides a great mix of cardio/endurance, muscle building and toning, and calorie burning. Depending on what strokes or styles of swimming you practice, you can work out your abs, arms, shoulders, legs, thighs, hips, and more. Swimming can be enormously calorie intensive, too, with the added resistance of the water acting as a force multiplier and helping super-charge your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts.
Cycling is another exercise where you have a lot of control over the intensity of the workout. Whether you choose to cycle outside on a bike, or indoors on a recumbent bike or similar machine is entirely up to you. Leisurely bike riding won’t provide as dramatic and impactful a workout as uphill/inclined riding or riding at high speed, but that’s all at your discretion and capabilities. Again, working out the legs and thighs, along with abdominals, are the core muscle groups targeted by cycling. More important, however, is that moderate to intensive cycling is great for cardio, strength, and endurance, as well as burning calories.
The seated cable row (or comparable exercises depending on your equipment availability) aims to work out the upper body, both in terms of strength and muscle toning. It may not be as high-impact as some of the other workouts on this list, but it’s important – among many workouts that focus on heart rate, endurance, and the lower body – to maintain a strong upper body as well. That’s one of the main functions of this exercise, and therefore worthy of inclusion on our list.
Similar to the logic used above with #4, arm strength and muscle tone are very important and can often be neglected in workout routines that solely focus on cardio, and even some general fitness routines. Dumbbell curls provide a good workout to the muscles of your arms, as well as ancillary areas such as the shoulders, to maintain range of motion, strength, and muscle tone.
Another workout that requires some equipment, leg extensions provide a thorough test of flexibility and strength for your legs. They also work out the core of the body, toning and tightening abs and working the glutes, too. Leg extensions are not typically high-impact, and a considerable number of reps can be undertaken, even by beginners. Compared to leg presses, leg extensions are much safer for older adults and less likely to cause strain or muscle injuries, so they’re a good choice for an over 40 fitness routine.
Depending on your comfort level, you can complete either dumbbell bench presses, dumbbell incline presses, or both. Both work out the upper body and are great for strength and muscle tone. Be sure to stick with dumbbells of an appropriate weight for your skill level, and don’t overdo it at first. Having a spotter around doesn’t hurt, either. The incline version of this workout also works your core and may be a more comfortable and less intense position for older individuals compared to the bench press version of this exercise.
Lat pulldowns have long been a staple of many home exercise equipment brands, as well as gyms and training facilities. They provide a workout to the lats (naturally) and help build muscle, tone, and improve or maintain range of motion throughout much of the upper body – arms, shoulders, and more. Be sure not to use too much weight or resistance for your skill level.
A standard of physical education classes and training programs everywhere, it’s hard to improve on the simplicity or workout that you can obtain from doing a series of pushups. It requires no equipment, which is a nice bonus. While pushups may be too intense for older adults in their 60s or beyond, men in the 40-60 range should absolutely include some pushups in their regular workout routine. They work the arms and upper body, legs, and abdominals/core, and can be very useful for weight loss or maintenance, cardio, and endurance.
Step-ups, to whatever level or degree you feel comfortable with, should be included in any 40+ fitness routine. They help the knees, hips, and lower back maintain a full range of motion and flexibility while providing a good muscle workout to the lower body as well. More intense step-ups can really get the heart going and blood flowing, serving as a good cardio option, too.
Squats, done with dumbbells, kettlebells, or without weights of any kind, should be incorporated into a workout routine when possible. Weighted squats may be too high-impact for some older individuals. Choose a degree of difficulty and amount of weight (or no weight at all) based on your fitness, health, and skill level. Squats work the thighs and glutes extremely well and can get your heart rate up fairly quickly as well.
A basic aerobic routine is also something you should consider working into your regimen from time to time. No equipment is required, and this can even be done in the comfort of your home. Jumping jacks, windmills, toe touches, and a lot of stretching/range of motion exercises will really help maintain flexibility and coordination as you age, while serving to raise the heart rate and burn some calories, too.
For stamina and endurance, nothing beats an incline workout. This can include an incline or climbing machine, or a high-inclination treadmill session. The incline creates a much more dynamic and difficult workload for the body, which works the muscles while boosting heart rate, breathing, and exertion as well. Just be sure not to overdo it!
Lengthy, high-intensity cardio training or other high-intensity workouts may not be ideal for older adults. However, short cardio training – on the order of 5 to 10 minutes – is usually considered far safer and fairly effective as well. Shuttle runs, sprints, squat thrusts, fast step-ups, and other exercises can be integrated to suit your experience and health status, providing short, high-intensity (but relatively low impact) cardio workouts for heart health, energy level, endurance, and overall health.
People seeking workouts at age 40 or above are often focused on cardio and building muscle or burning calories and neglect flexibility and range of motion. This is an important area, especially as we age since our range of motion typically decreases, and issues like back problems, shoulder or neck problems, and similar become more commonplace. Various yoga poses and fitness routines can be helpful not only in flexibility and range of motion for the body but in clearing the mind and serving as a bit of meditation and self-care as well.
Most experts recommend that adults get around 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise each day, or a total of around 200 minutes per week. This decreases to around 150 minutes per week for men and women over age 65. It’s perfectly reasonable to maintain or alter your exercise routine to every other day, or to focus on certain muscle groups one day and others on another day. You can also mix-and-match more strenuous exercises with low-impact workouts like walking or jogging, and modify any exercise program to suit your specific health needs or concerns.
It’s never too late to start a regular exercise program or realize the benefits of regular exercise on your overall health, strength, fitness, and stamina. Of course, if you haven’t had a regular exercise on an ongoing basis, it’s best to start slow and small, rather than jump from nothing into a regular, 30-minute intense workout every day. Be sure you are healthy enough for vigorous exercise, and consult your doctor if required. Add exercises incrementally, and increase intensity slowly but steadily over the course of several weeks. You don’t want to injure yourself or shock your body but ease into a new, more active lifestyle.
Older men should avoid any exercises that would put an undue strain on their bodies (as should older women). This can be specific to any kinds of injuries or health concerns you may have, or more general in scope. The age at which individuals need to start avoiding or modifying exercises will vary based on health, fitness level, and other factors. In general, though, most experts suggest avoiding or decreasing exercises like ab crunches, weighted squats, deadlifts, and intense cardio. Your body’s resiliency and ability to handle large impacts and shocks decrease with age, and that should be your primary consideration to remain safe and healthy when working out.
The most important thing to remember is that the only bad exercise for men over 40 is, really, no exercise at all. Not everyone is going to be or wants to be the pumped-up buff guy in the office. But, most men over 40 would still like to maintain their weight, stay in good shape, maintain their strength, and offset any health or physique declines associated with aging. Utilizing exercises from our list above will help men over 40 remain fit, strong, healthy, and active. To your health!
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.