How much muscle can a person build after turning 40? Well, the human body has a limited capability to keep and build muscle naturally. This is largely decided by our genes.
We do not completely understand why, but it is known that most guys can add only 30-40 pounds of muscle over their normal weight.
So a more experienced lifter who is in his 40s will have a more difficult time building new muscle. This is due to adaptation. It’s very hard in this situation to train for stress. And without stress, you won’t have muscle growth.
And doing things to increase stress, like very heavy or intense training, will do more harm that good.
This does not mean you should stop working out because you can surprise yourself and gain more than you believed possible. I am in best shape at 42 and still improving.
Here are three tips for older lifters who want to keep making progress:
1. Don’t go too hard, too much.
This might sound counterintuitive, but times of leveled training can help re-sensitize yourself to training. Think of it as “strategic deconditioning” if you wish.
For 3-5 weeks, do the minimum needed to avoid shedding muscle. If you lift a lot, that will be much less than you believe. Do less, do not push your sets too hard (stop at 2-3 reps before of failure), and try to focus on technique instead of load.
I enjoy three full workouts every week using 3-4 lifts each session. After this period, go hard for 6-8 weeks, increasing the demands every two weeks or so.
I found this technique when I began taking more trips away from home. I spent four weeks training 2-3 times a week and not having the ability to push super hard. But when I got back to heavy training, I went past my previous best.
2. A specialization way.
This is something I started using with top-level bodybuilders to get through their growth plateau.
When you are advanced, you need more stimulus to push your body to adapt. But if you increase total training stress, recovery will be harder. Specialization is a powerful way to get that stimulus without overloading your body.
Select two muscle groups to focus on. Train those muscles for three days per week and the rest of your body once per week at maintenance intensity. Then, every four weeks, put your focus somewhere else, like a different muscles or a new exercise.
3. Focus on your look.
There’s a great thing I call “muscle migration.” When you have overall muscle mass nearing your limit, you can still produce a pleasing evolution in your body by altering WHERE you are holding that muscle.
Depending on if you have more muscle on your chest and arms or hamstrings and mid-back, the over all appearance of your body will be different.
When you are trying to get the most muscle you can get, focus on creating the look you want. Purposefully building muscles that are not required to get “your look” is a waste of time.
Author: Steven Sinclaire