As a 40-year-old, you don't need to be afraid of the weight room. Strength-training is one of the most effective ways to build and maintain muscle, which is especially important as you start to get older. On average, adults lose a half pound of muscle every year after the age of 30, according to the American Council on Exercise. Weight training can help you avoid this decline in muscle mass -- but to get the results you're after, include the right exercises, create a proper workout schedule, and weight train safely to avoid injury.
What's Up Top
The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis and obliques make up your abdominal muscle group. The pectoralis major and minor muscles are in your chest, the deltoids are the main muscle group in your shoulders. The biceps and triceps are the major muscle groups in your arms; the biceps at front and the triceps at back of your upper arms. The latissimus dorsi muscle covers your lower back, with the trapezius muscle covering the upper back and neck. Include targeted exercises such as the chest dip, shoulder press, bicep curls, overhead triceps extensions, and chin-ups to work your upper body.
On Your Bottom Half
Your lower body is made up of the gluteal muscles in your buttocks, the hamstrings at the back of your upper legs and quadriceps at front, and the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in your calves. To build muscle in your lower body, do targeted exercises including barbell squats, dumbbell rear lunges, barbell step-ups and standing calf raises.
Set the Right Schedule for Yourself
It's best to work your upper and lower body on alternating days, to give your muscles time to rest in between. Overdoing it is not going to get you better results and in fact, it's the complete opposite. Without adequate rest, your muscles don't have time to repair themselves, and you will deplete your energy and lack in muscle gains as a result. Do your strength-training workout four to five days a week total, giving yourself two to three days of rest in between.
How Cardio Weighs In
Weight training is important, but if you're not including enough cardio during the week, you're not going to get to show off those muscles you've worked so hard for. You don't need intense cardio workouts, but even three to four sessions a week of some brisk walking, running, cycling, rowing, or jumping jacks will help you burn fat and stay fit.
Safety Goes First
A well-designed weight training program for a 40-year-old can lead to increased muscle strength and size, improved endurance and decreased body fat. Weight training can be dangerous if you're not doing it safely, particularly if you're using the wrong amount of weight. Always use an amount of weight that creates resistance, without making you strain. Only increase the amount of weight you're using when you can complete a full set of 12 reps of any exercise -- and only increase it by 5 percent increments to avoid putting too much stress on your body.