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Building Muscle & Mindset at 40 and Beyond


By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN

BuildingMuscle-40article3Getting old(er) is a fact of life and for many people, a truth that is very tough to accept. I just turned 40 myself making this concept all too real.

I’d love to tell you that I’m just as awesome as I was in my early 20’s…but I won’t lie.

My body IS 40 years old regardless of what the voice in my head wants to shout when I walk through the gym doors.  It has been lifting weights, running, jumping, twisting (and sitting) for over 25 years.

I will not ever stop working out…that I know. But if I don’t want to be in pain and on the brink of injury, I do need to change HOW I workout.

Every day we get older and our physical health slowly diminishes. Men’s testosterone levels drop with every passing year and not only do our bodies begin to break down, most people find that they cannot make the time for activity like they once did, including me.

And time is the one thing we can never get back.

Sure, there are plenty of fit, physically active guys with gray hair but in reality only a small percentage of the population.  Just look around anywhere you go. Heavy set men having difficulty moving their bodies and it seems to get worse every year.

This trend is the result of two things:

Consumption of Calorie Rich Processed Foods & Lack of Movement Every Day.

BuildingMuscle-40article2The GOOD NEWS is that we can change them both and quickly.

As far as the super high calorie overly processed foods we find on every shelf in most stores across this country, the solution is simple.  Minimize consumption and find alternatives.

It can’t hurt you if you’re barely eating it.  Limit yourself to only 100-200 calories per day of crappy food or reward yourself with healthier alternatives that taste good and won’t hurt you.

Secondly, working out consistently may come easy to some but carving out time for yourself only gets harder as you age with family life, full-time careers, household chores and other responsibilities.

You cannot force something to work in your life and expect it to last. Exercise needs to be habit; it needs to be a part of who you are and how you go about your days.

Most workout routines have you lifting weights, doing body weight movements or doing cardiovascular exercise all the time independent of each other. These programs get results and typically work in the short term.

But as with most things “forced” in our lives, they eventually stop working because people are creatures of habit. We like to feel comfortable and usually that involves some form of laziness.

Building muscle at 40 and beyond is about you doing what you love to do when it comes to activity. Here is one great example of a workout specifically designed to work the entire body and is amazing for guys 40 or more.

There are other ways for guys 40 and older to be physical:

  • Play in a Basketball League
  • Martial Arts
  • Run 5 & 10Ks
  • Compete in Powerlifting
  • Bodyweight Calisthenics and more.

The key is to choose different ways to be physically active and like what you’re doing for exercise.  This will help with longevity and give you the long-term results you want.

Because if you truly like something, it will be very hard to stop doing it.

BuildingMuscle-40articleI always like going back to children when it comes to explaining exercise and being active.  Most of the children in this world have one thing in common; they like to play.  Playing is exercise.  Kids run, jump, twist, climb and move their bodies with tremendous power, strength and agility.

As we age, we lose that ability.  Not because we got older but because we stopped moving like that every day and this point is missed by many experts in the field of strength and health.

Add recess back into your life and have that time everyday where you get to play in different ways. In doing that you will regain energy, muscle, mobility, confidence and your life will be forever changed.

The Best Way To Continue Building Muscle Into Your 40s

Execute Your Game Plan NOW (part 1)

Stop hitting the RESET button each year and start living each year WITHOUT a plan B.

100th SnatchWhen 01/01 arrives, many of us are optimistic. We are on point and ready. For the first time in a long time we feel motivated and focused on ourselves. We feel an extra boost of endorphins and dopamine (the feel good hormones).

We are finally READY TO TAKE ACTION but by January 20th, we’ve already come back down to Earth, lost our action taking passion and gotten back to life as usual.

Is this rejuvenated sensation to improve your life just because of the date?

For some, it is. If the previous year was tough and you had to struggle your way through it, having a ‘fresh start’ feels pretty darn good.

But for most of us, it’s simply the start of a new chapter. Our lives read very much like a long novel. Each chapter represents the years of our lives. Some of those chapters can be short and eventful while some feel immensely long just like some years seem to just fly by with you on auto-pilot while other years t-a-k-e f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Typically when things are going well and you’re just plugging away, the days and weeks go by at record pace. When our minds are occupied and we’re keeping busy, we don’t seem to take the time to reflect and evaluate what direction we’re headed in. We just keep on keeping on going along for the ride.

But when we have too much time on our hands to think about where we’re headed, the feelings can be overwhelming and often times scary. Instead of using this down time to our advantage, we waste it with “stuff” that doesn’t make us better. We just fill it with activities, gadgets, and laziness. Facing reality for many of us is frightening so we occupy our time with nonsense.

This brings us to a very common expression about success in life. “Most people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.” Let’s remember that planning to fail and failing to plan are two VERY different things.

Here’s the difference: One is done intentionally while the other is simply poor use of our valuable time.

Some of us just need a jab in the ribs from someone that deeply cares about us, knows who we are and what motivates us. As annoying as that person may be at the time, we should thank them for their concern and interest in our lives. Without support from those we know, like and trust, getting things done would be near impossible.

The guy that plans to fail makes decisions every day that he knows can be toxic to him and those in his life. The guy who fails to plan just isn’t organized and either doesn’t have the means to take the next step or is afraid to do so.

Strict vs Cheat 2

I know it’s not that black and white but it’s close. You either get up each day staying busy without much thought about your future and the direction of your life OR you get up and KNOW that what you’re doing is damaging your chance at attaining success.

To be successful at life, you need to have a plan. And, you need to execute that plan without hesitation.

One thing is certain, success comes at a heavy price. WORK.

Work (considered to be unsavory for many of us) is at the center of this discussion. This is where we separate the doers from the thinkers.

We can dive into that work willingly each day and get stuff done OR we can tip toe around it avoiding the really hard stuff while we spend the majority of our time on the easier stuff. Sound familiar?

Most of us find ourselves in this situation all the time. Big projects that require tons of hard work and demand our very best get pushed off while we essentially waste time on smaller tasks. I too find myself in this situation more than I care to acknowledge.

It’s the guy that will choose to chip away at his number one priority (goal) each day that finds success down the road. The old adage of “hard work always pays off” is true today and it will be true 100 years from now. If success was easy, we would all have nothing to really work for in life.

The recipe for success is simple, it’s just not easy.

3 Keys to Executing Your Game Plan

• Decide on a specific GOAL that improves the quality of your life
• Create a PLAN with precise action steps to track your progress
• Select 1-3 people very important to you Hold You Accountable

Yes, it’s that simple but you may have to work like hell to stay on track and reach your goal. Taking action in life requires some level of faith and confidence in yourself (and in others). We need to feel that if we fail, someone else we trust will be there to help pick us up. It’s those who believe in us most that will rally together and come to our aid to keep our minds in the game.


It’s just like the parent that sees his son or daughter fall at the playground. They must walk over with conviction, help their child up, dust them off and give them a pat on the head or look of approval as if to say, “It’s going to happen, you’re strong, you got this!”

Be prepared to get some bumps, bruises and scars in life. You can’t live with the brakes on. Take necessary chances where the benefits outweigh the risks and bust your butt every day to improve your livelihood.

The difference between triumph and defeat can be so slight but if you have a plan with a clearly defined goal combined with your inner strength and a strong supporting cast, you will accomplish your objective.