They say once you hit 40, you're over the hill: the days of achieving a physique that turns heads are way behind you, and just maintaining your shape will seem like a struggle.
I'm here to tell you there are no limits to what the body can achieve once the mind has a clear vision of what it wants. I'm 41 and I don't look at myself any differently than I did at 21. As a matter of fact, I think I'm stronger, have more endurance and look better than I did at 21. I attribute my continued success to the fact that I never put any limits on what I could achieve in and out of the gym.
If you're over 40, bodybuilding success doesn't have to be a pipe dream. Here's what you can do to cure "Old Man Syndrome" and make your muscle-mass goals a reality:
I hear all the time that we lose testosterone as we age and are therefore less capable of building or even maintaining muscle. That's a bunch of bull! I know many guys even in their late 60s who have normal testosterone levels. I always said that in order to keep a good test level, you need to eat like a man, train like a man, and think like a man!
I see lots of older guys at the gym training with light weights. Because they aren't lifting as heavy as they were when they were younger, their bodies lose muscle mass and they look saggy. When I was in my 20s, I trained with a guy who was in his late 40s. He trained heavy, looked great and was strong. His muscles were full and he said he felt young. So, skip the light weights and go back to muscle-building basics. Train heavy with low reps.
Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge believer in cardio. I usually train cardio about five days per week, but it's low impact, like walking on the treadmill or doing the elliptical for 20-to-30 minutes. I see way too many older guys pounding the pavement. That won't do anything but eat up whatever muscle they worked so hard to build. Rely on your diet to stay lean, not by running daily marathons.
Figuring out which diet to use is like trying to swim in murky water: it's impossible to navigate. Low-carb, no-carb, low-fat, high-fat, high-protein, Atkins, Zone, South Beach, Mediterranean — which to use? I've always known that building a balanced physique requires eating a balanced diet — not a constant rollercoaster of diet after diet. This means you should be consistently eating the right amount of protein, carbs and fat to maintain optimal performance and good health.
Fat stimulates hormones, and hormones are what are responsible for gaining muscle in the first place. So eating a good amount of healthy fats like olive oil, mixed raw nuts and avocados are a great way to keep the body growing.
If you're a bodybuilder over 40, it's likely that many of your old friends look up to you for health and fitness advice. To them I say: "If you want to fly like an eagle you can't hang around the chickens." Try to associate yourself with people who aren't afraid of a little hard work. Hang out with motivated people. You will reflect your environment.
There are many fancy training programs today. I see personal trainers showing their clients stuff that makes me break out laughing. I have to ask though, if it worked 30, 40 or even 50 years ago, why wouldn't it work now? I've learned that going back to the basics builds muscle. It's not that hard to figure out once you get a feel for it. Stick with basic exercises like barbell bench presses, barbell squats, push-ups, pull-ups, heavy barbell curls and triceps dips. "Building muscle isn't supposed to be complicated!"
If you can only manage to follow one of these tips, make sure to follow this one: Believe in yourself and what you can accomplish; there are no limits as to what you can achieve in and out of the gym! You're in the driver's seat - it's up to you to steer.
Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that when he trained his biceps, he didn't look at them as muscles; he looked at them as mountains with huge peaks that filled up the whole room. He visualized them that way because he knew the power of positive thinking. Even Steve Reeves back in the 1950s was able to build a large amount of muscle in a short time because he saw himself doing it.
The saying: "you're older so you need more rest" is absolutely untrue. Actually, the older we get, the less rest we need. I've always believed in Newton's first law: "a body in motion stays in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest." Don't lounge around the house or sleep for hours. There's a lot you could be accomplishing, and you're not going to do it if you're asleep.
Every 40-something Superman needs:
- A good whey protein powder like Met-Rx Ultramyosyn, or Designer Whey
- A high-quality L-glutamine
- A high-quality multivitamin, multi-mineral
- High-quality fish oil
- High-quality flaxseed oil