Over 40 – BoomerMuscle

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February 1, 2017

Build Muscle Fast After 40

weights straining

It is definitely possible to build muscle fast after 40. In fact, it may be much easier than you think.

However, 40 can be a very tricky age.

You’re not old yet, but you’re not young, either. Our bodies start to lose muscle mass around your age due to sarcopenia, which can accelerate dramatically as the years go by especially if you’re inactive.

But you’re not too far removed from your glory days and peak condition, so you should be able to amp up your workouts relatively quickly compared to someone a couple of decades older than you.

Even still, you are far enough from your peak that it doesn’t make sense to pretend you’re still in high school and able to recover quickly from a ton of physical abuse.

Resistance training has always had a bit of a competitive edge to it. How much you can lift equals how strong you are compared to others. Right?  

Clear Your Mind, Start Fresh

Try to clear your thinking on this score. How much weight you use really does not matter — except that it is enough to bring you to failure in 8-12 reps.

Nor does it matter how you create the resistance. Free weights – great. Machines – great. Body weight – great. Resistance Bands – great. It’s all good. You’re muscles only feel the tension, they don’t care how you made it.

Studies have shown definitively that lifting light weights in the 8 – 12 rep range is superior to trying to push around super heavy weight — if your aim is to build muscle tissue.

Our egos tend to tell us that more weight equals more strength equals more muscle. Wrong. Unless you’re trying out for the Olympic team, forget about your weight totals.

Muscle grows in response to tension placed on it that does microscopic damage to the tissues. With proper rest and nutrition, the fibers are repaired a little stronger and thicker than before. Hypertrophy is the process. You feel it as a “pump” while you’re working the muscle and perhaps after. It’s NOT pain. It’s a satisfying pumped up feeling as blood rushes in with nutrients, flushing out toxins, and starts building the muscle up.

To those points above there is general agreement.

Focus on Failure

Where I diverge a bit from others is that I believe in focusing on a specific muscle group with enough sets in order to take it to “failure” — rather than mixing up various muscle groups on each workout day. Again, our primary goal is to build muscle tissue.

Failure occurs when you cannot complete another clean rep without cheating. Don’t cheat on any rep.

If you’re focusing on biceps, for example, I would stay on biceps until you’ve reached failure. In my case, this equates to 5 sets each of 3 separate exercises. Bicep barbell curls x 5, bicep dumbbell hammer curls x 5 and bicep rope curls on a machine x5.

NOTE: If you’re just starting out, start slower with fewer sets. See articles below for more details on how to get going.

Keep a Mind/Muscle Connection

It really is all about the feeling.

You want to focus on the muscle being targeted and feel the tension in that muscle as it moves through the range of motion. It’s easier said than done.

Too often, people will focus on throwing the weight around to finish the rep, as if that’s the ultimate goal. Or, they will strain and use body english to move a weight that is too heavy.

We want to cause “hypertrophy” in the target muscle. That means putting a controlled strain on it that causes blood to flow in bringing nutrients and flushing out toxins. You can actually feel this happening if you concentrate. Back in the day, they called this “The Pump.”

The amount of resistance is key. You are going to focus on getting 8 – 12 clean reps for each set you perform. If you can do 12 in the first set and need to drop to 8 by the last set that’s ok. In fact, if you can only get 5 reps in the last set, that’s ok, too.

Your focus is on the feeling not the numbers.

Add resistance whenever 12 reps becomes too easy on that first set. It’s that simple, numbers wise.

But finding the ideal resistance can be challenging because our minds get involved. It is key to really get your head into this process and focus on how the target muscle feels as you perform the reps.

Beware! There is a little devil on your right shoulder who will call you names for using weight that is too light. And there is another one on your left shoulder who will tell you whatever weight is just way too heavy.

Ideally, you can tune those devils out and find the ideal weight range that takes you to genuine failure on each set. Tune them out by really focusing your mind on the target muscle. Feel the motion. Feel for the pump. When you feel it, you’re there.

More Detail on How to Do It:

Also, see the article below “Building Muscle After 60” for more on how you can build muscle regardless of your age: 40, 50, 60 and up.

And see below “A Workout Routine: Resistance Training to Build Muscle, Lose Fat” for a sample workout to get you started now.

Also see “Lifting Light Weight vs. Heavy Weights” bottom below for more details on the benefits of lighter weight/higher reps.

If you’re a woman concerned about “bulking up” please see this on women building muscle. This method works for men and women.

Building Muscle After 60

Resistance Training to Build Muscle & Lose Fat

Lifting Light Weights vs Heavy Weights

Brian Patterson. Going on 61 this year.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on building muscle after 40. Please share them below or drop me a line at Brian@BoomerMuscle.com


Best Muscle Building Supplements – Avoid the Scams

cartoon scientist

These are the three best muscle building supplements for men over 40. Muscle building supplements are a huge business that is largely unregulated by the government. Most supplements are snake oil scams and not worth your money. Some are downright dangerous. Trust these:

There are only 3 types that actually work with a degree of certainty:

  1. Creatine
  2. Whey Protein
  3. BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

Pretty much everything else is just hype. Here’s how the scams work. A supplement firm will come up with a new product. They start the marketing it in bodybuilding magazines and websites. The spokesperson might be a hardcore bodybuilder who will infer his muscle size is enhanced by the product (while in reality, he is using a boatload of illegal steroids).

He says: “If you’re not taking Super X Factor 19 like me, you’re missing out on massive gains!”

Because the business is largely unregulated, and that includes not verifying ingredients or their quality, they can say whatever they want with no scientific studies to refute it. It’s pure marketing hype at its most wild and extreme.

Word travels. Young athletes jump on the band wagon. Conversations happen in gyms. And for a while, Super X Factor 19 will sell like hotcakes, then ultimately it fades into the background as questions arise and science catches up.

beakers-309864_1280I came across an article online in which someone did a detailed comparison of chocolate milk vs. a well-known supplement drink. Chocolate milk won hands-down in almost every ingredient category.

So, it’s definitely Buyer Beware when it comes to muscle building supplements.

Let’s look at the good news…


Creatine has been around for many years now, and it has proven to be largely safe to use and effective at building muscle. It is a substance found naturally in the body and in meat protein that we ingest.

Wikipedia: “Extensive research has shown that oral creatine supplementation at a rate of five to 20 grams per day appears to be very safe and largely devoid of adverse side-effects,[23] while at the same time effectively improving the physiological response to resistance exercise, increasing the maximal force production of muscles in both men and women.[24][25]”

WebMD Notes that some studies have show creatine to be relatively safe and effective at building lean muscle mass over the short term. And the Mayo Clinic notes that it is “likely safe when used long term.Caution is advised for people with kidney disease and other health issues.

In the U.S., a majority of sports nutrition supplements, which total $2.7 billion in annual sales, contain creatine. Creatine is allowed by the International Olympic Committee, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and professional sports.

The suggested dose per day is typically no more than 5 grams. There are about 2 grams of creatine in one pound of beef. So it would be difficult to ingest 5 grams using diet alone.


I use a product by GNC. One reason I choose GNC is that I believe it is a solid, reputable company. It is publicly traded and was founded more than 70 years ago. I don’t think they will risk their brand’s reputation by resorting to shoddy practices.

I use the tablet version of GNC’s AMP Creatine 189.

It also comes in flavored powder form if you prefer a drink.

GNC says this version is a cutting edge solution that tops traditional creatine monohydrate in muscle absorption and significantly reduces how much you need to take. With AMP, just 2 capsules give you the recommended 5 grams of creatine.

GNC says: “PEG-Creatine System” – This proprietary formula includes a patent-pending technology which allows you to get the same benefits as regular creatine monohydrate at a much lower dose. That’s right, you no longer have to take mounds of powder or handfuls of creatine pills to get the performance enhancing benefits of creatine.”

Whey Protein

Whey protein comes from milk. It is a liquid that separates from milk during the making of cheese.

It is a complete, high-quality protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. It is very digestible, absorbed from the gut quickly compared to other types of protein. It is one of the best dietary sources of protein available.

Whey is rich in a branched-chain amino acid called leucine. Among all the amino acids, leucine is the most growth promoting.

Combined with resistance training, whey can also help older adults reverse the effects of aging on muscle loss. Combined with training, it helps promote a stronger, better-looking body.

You can check a nicely organized list of benefits compiled by the Mayo Clinic here. Whey may have a number of additional benefits in addition to muscle growth, according to studies:

    • Help control Type 2 diabetes by moderating blood sugar levels
    • Reduce inflammation in the body. (Soreness comes with training)
    • May help promote weight loss
    • Raise the body’s antioxidant defenses
    • And it’s filling, low calorie, nutrition
ON Gold Standard

 Gold Standard Whey

The Best Whey

I recommend Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey. It is a good tasting, quality powder drink. It is one of the featured brands at GNC, has thousands of strongly positive reviews on GNC’s website and on Amazon. And is often called out as the premier brand.

Whey protein isolates are the purest form of whey and the main ingredient in Gold Standard 100% Whey. Each serving provides 24 grams of rapidly digesting whey protein with low levels of fat, cholesterol, lactose and other stuff you can do without.

    • 5.5 Grams of Naturally Occurring BCAAs
    • 4 Grams of Naturally Occurring Glutamine and Glutamic Acid
    • Instantized to Mix Easily Using Just a Glass & Spoon
    • Over 20 Different Flavors to Choose From

New: Gluten Free Whey for the Lactose Intolerant

If you have severe gluten/lactose intolerance, you could consider this alternative by Nature’s Best.

About the Product

Pack in powerfully pure protein, without packing on the carbs.

100% whey protein isolate powders amp you up, without any unwanted weight. Just pick your level: Zero Carb or Low-Carb (which also has Zero sugar), both with a whopping 50 grams of protein.

It’s 100% whey protein isolate loaded with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to keep you going strong and always without gluten, lactose, or any impurities. Made with Nature’s Best complete microfiltration process to be the only completely clear milk protein when dissolved in water.

Available in a range of flavors.

  • 50 grams of 100% ion exchange whey protein isolate per serving
  • Zero Sugar, Zero or Low Carbs
  • Lactose & Gluten Free
  • Glutamine enriched loaded with BCAAs
  • Aspartame Free

BCAA – Branched Chain Amino Acids

I use and recommend Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA  capsules. There is also a powder to mix as a drink. It’s personal preference. The supplement claims that it helps muscles recover from workouts, and I do believe I can feel the difference. Since we’re getting older, we can use all the help we can get with recovery. Recovery is, afterall, just as important as the workout itself and good nutrition. Recovery is when our muscles grow.

  • Recommended : First thing in the morning and/or during the 30 minutes just before or immediately after training. Simply take 2 capsules with your favorite beverage

Here is a study from the National Institutes of Health on BCAA and recovery. As with any and all supplements, check with your doctor over any concerns, especially if you have conditions like high blood pressure or kidney-related issues.

The links above will take you to Amazon. If you decide to make a purchase, they will give me credit. But it does not in any way affect the price you would pay. You can also find these items at your local GNC or health food store.

Supplement Caution

Do NOT take more than the recommended dosage. You can harm your health by over-doing these or any other supplement.

Check with your doctor if you have any concerns or existing health issues before taking any supplement.

Visit the BoomerMuscle Facebook page. You’ll find a steady flow of great articles I share from around the world on working out, nutrition and more. It’s all unique stuff not duplicated on the Boomer website.

Click here to get my 5 Keys to Feeling Stronger – Right Away for free here. No sales pitch or hassle. You’ll get a brief video on the 5 Keys plus a downloadable PDF guide on the studies noted above plus a summary cheat-sheet on the 5 Keys.

What is your experience with supplements? Please share it in the Comments below. Or drop me a line at: Bri@BoomerMuscle.com.