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Building Muscle After 40: A Realistic Guide to Gaining a Stone of Muscle

March 07, 20243 min read

The process of gaining muscle, especially for men over 40, can be nuanced and depends on several factors including initial fitness level, genetics, diet, overall health, and the consistency and intensity of their workout routine.

For men over 40, muscle building can be more challenging than for younger individuals due to natural decreases in testosterone levels, which play a crucial role in muscle growth, and potentially slower recovery times. However, with the right approach, it is still very much possible to gain muscle at this age.

Understanding Muscle Growth

Muscle growth occurs through hypertrophy, where muscle fibres undergo damage through exercise and repair themselves with rest and nutrition to become larger and stronger. This process is supported by adequate protein intake, sufficient calories to support growth, and a well-structured resistance training program.

Key Factors

  1. Diet: A caloric surplus with adequate protein is essential. Protein needs for muscle growth typically range from 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight per day.

    Total caloric intake should be adjusted to ensure a slight surplus to support muscle growth without excessive fat gain. Take your bodyweight in lbs and multiple by 14 (if Inactive or Lightly Active) or by 16 (if Moderately Active to Very Active)

    For Muscle Gain: To create a caloric surplus, add an additional 250 to 500 calories per day to the maintenance number.

    For Fat Loss: To create a caloric deficit, subtract 250 to 500 calories per day from the maintenance number.

    Some (controlled) fat gain has to be expected when looking to put on muscle, but will get taken off when you come to your next fat loss phase.

  2. Exercise Routine: Resistance training is crucial. A mix of compound and isolation exercises targeting all major muscle groups, performed 3 to 5 times a week, is recommended. Progressive overload, or gradually increasing the weight and intensity of workouts, is key to muscle gains.

  3. Recovery: Adequate sleep and rest days are essential for muscle repair and growth. Over 40s may find they need more recovery time than younger individuals.

  4. Health and Hormones: Health screenings can ensure no underlying conditions would impair muscle growth. Considering natural declines in testosterone, some men over 40 opt for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) under medical supervision.

    Side note: If you experience slumps in mood, motivation, constantly tired, I would recommend getting blood test. I personally use Optimale.

Realistic Expectations

For a man over 40, gaining a stone (14 pounds or approximately 6.35 kg) of muscle is an ambitious goal. Generally, a beginner can expect to gain about 1 to 2 pounds of muscle per month in the initial stages of a proper training programme.

However, this rate slows down as you become more advanced.

Considering these factors, and assuming optimal conditions (diet, training, recovery, and health are all dialled in), it might take anywhere from 7 to over 12 months to gain a stone of muscle. This timeframe can vary significantly based on individual response to training and diet, initial fitness level, and consistency in adhering to the programme.

Practical Tips

  1. Start with an Assessment: Get a health check-up (blood tests) and consider working with a coach to design a tailored workout and nutrition plan.

  2. Focus on Nutrition: Prioritize protein, maintain a balanced diet, and ensure a slight caloric surplus.

  3. Be Consistent: Stick to your workout routine, focusing on progressive overload over time.

  4. Prioritize Recovery: Allow adequate time for rest and recovery.

  5. Monitor Progress: Regularly track your progress and adjust your programme as needed.

Building muscle after 40 requires patience, discipline, and a well-structured approach. While it may take longer than it would for a younger man, significant improvements in muscle mass and overall health are achievable.

building muscle after 40

Paul Clutterbuck

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