How to Get and Stay Fit over 40

I want to share some thoughts on “fitness over 40.”

To frame this up, I recently received an email that asked about three specific categories of fitness for people over 40.

How does an over 40 body:

  1. Work out as effectively as possible but avoid injury?
  2. Gain muscle and flexibility?
  3. Work out for the best cardiovascular health?

How does an over 40 body work out as effectively as possible but avoid injury?

As you get older you CAN still train hard, but not as frequently. Recovery from intense workouts, even when supported by proper sleep, nutrition, and soft tissue work, will take longer.

The flip side of that, this means it’s ok to go really hard 1x-3x per week. Trying to smash it every single day is no go, though! To be clear, I fully support (and recommend!) more frequent training bouts. There’s nothing wrong with being active every day. You just don’t want to train at all-out intensity every day.

In addition to variations within a week, it’s important to vary intensity within a month or quarter. It’s ok to purposely push your limits some weeks. Balance these weeks with other weeks of lower overall intensity.

(Long time members will recognize this weekly ebb and flow as a foundation of our small group personal training, testing weeks and more. So if you’re training with DM Elite, we’ve already got you covered here.

Warming up is important for every age group, but to state the obvious, it gets even more crucial as we age. Your body needs more time to “rev up.” Raising your core body temperature, elevating your heart rate, and mobilizing your joints will help keep you feeling good AND lead to better workouts.

Also of note: recovery from injury takes longer as we age. While some bumps and bruises are inevitable for highly active people, there are ways to mitigate this. Namely, the strategies above and making sure sessions are enjoyable yes but also personalised to YOU.

How does an older body gain muscle and flexibility?

Gaining muscle, while not impossible, does get harder as we age. In addition to the factors mentioned above, our hormones change over time. However, we can maintain much of our muscle mass with adequate strength training.

Is it possible to gain muscle over 40? While everyone is different, if you cross your i’s and dot your t’s with appropriate volume and intensity of training, sufficient protein and caloric intake, and get your rest, modest gains are also possible. And in fact, if you’re relatively “de-trained” and haven’t been doing any weight training recently, you can expect to see progress here.

When it comes to flexibility, our tissue quality also changes over time. Our muscles and joints will need extra care and time to maintain mobility. Once again warming up, training with a full range of motion, and attending to soft tissue work become even more important. That’s why we do Stretch sessions on weekends at the Gym to ensure members have time to focus on this.

How does an older body work out for the best cardiovascular health?

As discussed above, cardiovascular health can be supported with 1-3x hard (and shorter) workouts like HIIT and a few more days of less-demanding “steady state” training where the heart rate stays mostly in the aerobic zone (110-140ish bpm).

Walking is ideal for this – low impact and we can fit it into our day easily. While step trackers are good for habit change don’t overly obsess and just do a bit more (5-10 minutes every hour if sedentary for the day for example)

And Finally…

Now that I’ve addressed the mechanics, let’s touch on your mindset.

Genetics and luck will always play a role. But you can improve both the quantity — and quality — of your life by adopting the lifestyle habits that promote your fitness.

Too much of our social conversation around aging treats physical and mental decline as an inevitable fact of life. True, it would be living in denial to deny getting older has ANY effect but… On the other hand, we have no shortage of models in our world of people continuing to live full and vibrant lives into their 80’s and even 90’s.

I don’t know about you, but I’m committed to giving my body and brain the inputs necessary to keep thriving for decades to come. At the time of this writing, I am 33 years old. I’m a Dad to 2 girls. Keep myself active daily. Have NEVER smoked and drink once in a blue moon. Based on life expectancy models, the overwhelming probability is that I have decades of awesome life to go.

Am I going to be beating my personal deadlift or 10km records from my early 20’s? Probably not, but in part, because I just don’t care. For the record, there ARE people who set performance records into their 40’s and sometimes 50’s. But that’s not in line with my goals, which are more focused on longevity, health, and mental performance.

I care about feeling like a million bucks and having all-day-long-energy, and the pride and personal confidence that comes from the compounding interest of years and years of investing in my fitness.

When I think about my personal life and my career, I’m proud of where I’m at and how far I’ve come. AND, when I zoom out, I know I’m just getting started.

But what if you’re over 40 and relatively new to the fitness game?

If you think it’s “too late” to make strides with your fitness… you’re wrong! We have lots of members in the Gym thriving and feeling great well past 40 and you can, too.

There’s documented evidence that you can make massive strides if you start as late as your 70’s or 80’s!!

Yes, the best time to plant a tree was two years ago.

But the second best time is NOW.

I suspect some of you don’t need this pep talk. And that’s cool 🙂

But if you DO find yourself getting nostalgic and feeling like your best years are behind you?

I want to get you to think (and feel) different &create a big future for yourself.

(And if you need help in building your fitness foundation for the decades ahead? See below for some ways you can work with our team and/or myself to help both physically AND mentally)



To level up and get started with your fitness, and would like to sign up to our 28 Day Challenge at the Gym – click here

Dan Moore Elite Training
3 Longman Drive
Inverness Highlands IV1 1SU

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