weight training over 45

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As you age, it becomes increasingly important to stay fit and active in order to maintain your heart health. Unfortunately, getting started with a fitness routine can be intimidating when you’re over 40. How do you know what exercises will work best for your body?

Fortunately, cardiologists can provide guidance on the right exercise program for your needs. In this article, we’ll talk about how to get fit in your 40s and explore some of the strategies you can use to get there safely. 

Is 40 Too Old To Start Weight Training?

The issue “Is 40 too old to start weight training?” is frequently asked, especially among people reaching middle age who want to enhance their health and fitness. As a cardiologist, I routinely see patients in their forties and beyond who are interested in weight training but are apprehensive about its safety and efficacy for their age. 

Drawing on a plethora of scientific evidence and clinical experience, I can confirm that not only is 40 an appropriate age to begin weight training, but it may also be extremely helpful to cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and overall well-being.

The Science of Muscle Aging and Rejuvenation

Sarcopenia is the natural reduction in muscle mass and strength that occurs as people age. This loss usually accelerates after the age of 30, resulting in reduced functional ability and an increased risk of falls and fractures in older persons. However, research repeatedly shows that resistance training, or weight training, can greatly reduce the symptoms of sarcopenia by improving muscular mass and strength, regardless of when it begins.


A pivotal study published in “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” demonstrated the effectiveness of resistance training in boosting muscle strength and physical performance in older persons. Participants, some of whom were well into their 70s and 80s, demonstrated amazing improvements after partaking in regular weight training sessions. This highlights the fact that it is never too late to begin and get the benefits of weight training.

Cardiovascular Benefits

According to a cardiologist, weight training has significant cardiovascular benefits in addition to muscle conditioning. Regular weight training can help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and increase insulin sensitivity, all of which are important factors in managing and avoiding heart disease. A study published in “The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that moderate-intensity resistance training is as beneficial as aerobic exercise in decreasing systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Weight Management and Metabolic Health

Starting weight training at age 40 or older can have a substantial impact on weight management and metabolic health. Increased muscle mass increases metabolic rate, which means the body burns more calories even when resting. This can help with weight loss and maintenance, perhaps lowering the risk of obesity-related illnesses including Type 2 diabetes. Resistance training has been proven in the “American Journal of Physiology” to enhance glucose metabolism in older persons, emphasizing its usefulness in the management of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Bone Health and Osteoporosis Prevention

Osteoporosis, a bone-weakening disorder, becomes more common as people age, particularly among postmenopausal women. Weight training can help prevent osteoporosis by boosting bone growth and density. A systematic review published in the “Journal of Bone and Mineral Research” indicated that resistance training improves bone health in older persons, making it an important component of osteoporosis prevention methods.

Psychological Benefits and Quality of Life

The psychological advantages of beginning weight training at 40 should not be disregarded. Regular exercise, especially weight training, has been related to improved mood, reduced anxiety and depression, and increased cognitive performance. These advantages lead to a higher overall quality of life and wellbeing. A study published in “The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine” found that older persons who engaged in resistance training saw significant gains in their psychological well-being.

Getting Started Safely

While the benefits of starting weight training at 40 are obvious, it’s critical to tackle this new fitness adventure with caution. A consultation with a healthcare practitioner is an important initial step, especially for individuals who have pre-existing health concerns. Starting with lesser weights and focusing on perfect form will help you avoid injuries. A successful and long-term weight training plan requires gradually increasing the intensity and complexity of workouts as strength and confidence improve.

Getting Fit at 40


Regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy and fit, especially as we age. Exercise and weight training can be a rejuvenating and transformative journey, even if you’re getting started at 40. These routines have numerous advantages that are not age-specific, and it is especially effective for people who are starting a fitness journey in their forties.

The Benefits of Exercise

Regular exercise helps maintain muscle strength and bone density which decreases with age. According to the national physical activity standards, engaging in regular physical activity is one of the most crucial things people can do to enhance their health. 

When you get more active, chronic health issues like metabolic dysregulation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegeneration have lower chances of developing. Exercising can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, systemic insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic liver disease. Exercise is a true panacea! 
Here are some other specific benefits of exercise:

1. Metabolic Benefits

Regular exercise greatly improves metabolic health, even in the absence of weight loss. Its ability to offset the negative effects of too many carbohydrates and lipids is often overlooked. Even a small change in lifestyle, such as a weekly walk of 100 minutes, can enhance health markers.

2. Brain Health

Even though exercise is a strong tool for brain health, it is insufficient in the absence of enough sleep. Exercise and rest need to coexist in order to maximize brain health. Dancing, which is frequently undervalued as exercise, improves neuroplasticity and cognitive reserve by increasing coordination and physical activity.

3. Blood Pressure

Systolic blood pressure rises during activity, whereas diastolic blood pressure ideally stays the same or falls. This happens because physical activity reduces vascular resistance by widening arteries to improve blood flow to the muscles. Several studies have found that endurance training significantly lowers both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure, making it a very effective treatment for hypertension. It has also been shown that resistance training has similar and additional effects. 

4. Stress Reduction

Many people use TV watching and other sedentary activities as a way to decompress, people who use more active stress management techniques typically find that they work better. Exercise has been shown to lower stress, improve mood, and improve cognitive function, all of which contribute to an overall increase in well-being.  

5. Muscle Building

As you get older, keeping your muscles, joints, and bones healthy is essential for maintaining your mobility and day-to-day activities. Advancing age reduces your muscle mass.  Less muscles means less mobility as you age and more risk of injury from falls. 

Exercises that build and maintain muscular mass and strength, such as weightlifting, are crucial, especially for older people who suffer from age-related muscle loss. Strength training with gradually increasing weights and repetitions is beneficial for general health regardless of age.  It has been shown that strength training even at 80 years of age is beneficial for quality of life. 

Types of Exercise

The types of exercises best suited for people  over 40 depend on their individual needs, likes and previous injuries. However, any exercise program should include both aerobic activities (such as walking or jogging) as well as strength training (using weights or resistance bands). Here are some common exercise classifications and what they mean. 

High Intensity

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, alternates short bursts of vigorous activity with rest intervals in between. Quick-hit training (HIIT) saves time, works the muscles and heart, and provides a range of workout choices. 

It results in increased muscle strength, endurance, calorie burn, and cardiovascular fitness. But it should be used with caution, particularly for inexperienced users or people with underlying medical issues.  Whenever you start high intensity exercise you have a risk of injury. Before beginning an HIIT program, speak with a fitness specialist or medical professional to be sure it’s right for you.  They can also talk you through proper technique. 

HIIT training should not be your only form of exercise. Most people should aim to do it once per week. It has fantastic benefits in increasing your VO2 Max.  

Resistance Training


Building physical strength, endurance, and fitness is the main goal of resistance training, also referred to as strength or weight training. It entails applying resistance to the muscles, such as body weight, bands, weight machines or free weights. 

Strengthening, toning, increased metabolism, increased bone density, improved endurance, and daily functional strength are among the objectives. 

3 session per week is the ideal number. It allows you to overload your muscles and then recover. It’s critical to use correct form and customize training to meet personal objectives. I recommend finding a personal trainer who is used to training older people. 

Zone 2 Training


Zone 2 is the heart rate zone at which you are not building lactic acid (causes sore muscles). It is aerobic training that often feels like it is not hard enough. You can determine your zone 2 as the exercise where you could still hold a conversation but don’t really want to.   It’s mostly aerobic, sustained, and strengthens your aerobic foundation, which increases fat burning and endurance. 

Most of your aerobic activity should be in this zone for maximum benefit with minimum stress on the body. 

It has cardiovascular advantages, increases endurance, helps with weight management, prevents chronic diseases, is good for joints, lowers stress, promotes longevity, and guards against injuries for people in their 40s and beyond. Before beginning any workout regimen, especially if you have underlying health concerns, get professional advice.

Finding the Right Exercise Plan

If you have an existing heart condition and have been approved by your doctor or cardiologist, consider hiring a personal trainer who will build an individualized plan geared particularly to reach your goals while taking into account any limits due to age or health concerns. In case you’re trying to figure out which exercise routine fits your age, here are some useful pointers that you can consider:

1. Set Clear Goals

Set specific goals for your exercise strategy. Having defined goals will drive your decisions, whether they are for weight loss, muscle gain, enhanced endurance, or better overall health.

2. Consider Your Preferred Activities

Try out a dance fitness class if you enjoy dancing. If you like being outside, go hiking or riding. Consistency grows when you enjoy your workouts.

3. Evaluate Your Fitness Level

Be truthful about your present level of fitness. Start with low-impact activities and gradually increase the intensity if you are a beginner. If you’re more experienced, try higher intensity workouts.

4. Consult a Professional

If you’re unclear where to begin, consult a fitness professional or personal trainer. They can assist you in developing a customized plan that is in line with your objectives and abilities.

5. Variety is Key

A well-rounded regimen incorporates aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balancing activities. Changing it up keeps you from becoming bored and allows you to work out new muscle areas.

6. Consider Time and Schedule

Select exercises that fit into your everyday schedule. If you’re short on time, go for shorter, high-intensity workouts. Longer, moderate-intensity workouts work well if your schedule allows.

7. Pay Attention to Your Body

Pay attention to how your body reacts to various activities. Consult a healthcare provider or alter your regimen if a workout causes pain or discomfort.

8 . Be Consistent

Consistency is essential for success. Maintain your fitness routine and be patient. The process takes time, but the journey is worthwhile. Remember that the finest exercise routine is one that you can follow and enjoy. It should be in line with your goals and take into account your specific situation.

Weight Training After 40


Weight training after 40 can be beneficial for those looking to improve their overall health and fitness. It is important to adjust your workout routine according to your age and fitness level in order to get the most out of it. Working with a professional trainer or coach can help you stay motivated, as well as provide guidance on proper form and technique.

Adjusting Your Workout Routine to Fit Your Age And Fitness Level


It is critical to tailor your training regimen to your age and fitness level for both safety and efficacy. Here are some essential techniques to assist you in making these changes:

1. Determine Your Current Fitness Level:

• Begin by assessing your present level of fitness, taking into account aspects such as strength, flexibility, endurance, and any existing health conditions.
• Determine your fitness objectives, whether they be weight loss, muscle gain, better cardiovascular health, or overall well-being.

2. Consult a Medical Professional:

• Consult a healthcare provider or fitness professional if you have underlying health conditions or concerns to ensure that your exercise regimen is safe and appropriate.

3. Select Age-Related Exercises:

• Choose exercises that are appropriate for your age and fitness level. Low-impact sports such as swimming, cycling, and walking are frequently accepted, particularly by the elderly.

• Strength training routines should be included to preserve muscle mass and bone density as you age.

4. Put proper form and technique first:

• To avoid damage, emphasize appropriate form and technique. If you’re unsure, consult with a fitness professional to ensure you’re doing the exercises correctly.

5. Start slow and progress gradually:

• Start with low-intensity workouts and shorter durations if you’re a novice or resuming to exercise after a break. As you feel more comfortable, gradually increase the intensity and time.

6. Include recovery days:

• Allow enough time for your body to recover between workouts. This is especially crucial for older people, as healing takes longer as they get older.

7. Increase or decrease the intensity and duration:

• Depending on your fitness level, adjust the intensity and duration of your workouts. If you have limited endurance, shorter, more frequent sessions may be preferred.

8. Listen to your body:

• During workouts, pay heed to your body’s cues. Stop the workout immediately and evaluate the situation if you feel any pain or discomfort. Injury might result from trying to ignore pain.

9. Balance your cardio, strength, and flexibility routines:

• Make sure your fitness program is well-rounded by including aerobic, weight training, and mobility or flexibility activities. This keeps your overall fitness level high.

10. Fuel your body and make sure you are properly hydrated:

• Drink plenty of water throughout your workouts, and make sure your diet meets both your needs for energy and recovery.

12. As you get older, change your routine:

• As you age, expect to need to make more changes to your daily schedule. It’s natural for what was once comfortable to change.

Finding the ideal balance between challenging yourself and maintaining your safety, all while adapting your training plan to your age and physical level, is critical. Your health should always come first, and don’t be afraid to seek expert guidance and personalized solutions from fitness professionals. 

Cardiologist Guidance on Exercise and Heart Health 

One of the commonest questions I get from patients is – should I be exercising?  The answer is almost always yes. However, the exercise you do and its intensity depends on your condition. 
Exercise is fantastic, and has been shown to prolong life even in people with heart conditions. If you have a heart condition, ask your cardiologist what is safe for you to do. Any program needs to be individualized to the patient.
If you are sedentary and haven’t exercised in a long while then start gradually, and you should consider getting reviewed by a cardiologist before you start training for that marathon! We will often put you on a treadmill stress test first to ensure your heart can cope with the demands of training.

Weight Training FAQs

Q. What are the benefits of weight training for people over 40
A. The benefits of weight training for people aged 40 and above include preservation of lean muscle mass, increased bone density, improved metabolism, enhanced joint health and function, and increased longevity and quality of life.
Q. Is it good to lift weights in your 40s?
A. Yes, lifting weights in your 40s can help you retain muscle mass, bone density, metabolism, and overall health. It promotes functional strength and can improve your quality of life as you get older.
Q. How often should I lift weights to stay fit at 40?
A. It is recommended that adults aged 40 and over lift weights at least two to three times a week. Each session should last between 30-60 minutes, with 8-10 exercises focusing on all major muscle groups. Start with light weights and gradually increase the weight as you become stronger.
Q. Is weight lifting better than cardio after 40?
A. Neither weight lifting nor cardio is inherently better than the other after 40. Both have unique benefits. A well-rounded fitness routine that includes both strength training (weight lifting) and cardiovascular exercise (cardio) is generally recommended for optimal health and fitness in your 40s and beyond.
Q. Can you still gain muscle at 40?
A. Yes, you can still gain muscle at 40 with proper strength training and nutrition. While it may be slower than in your younger years, muscle growth is achievable and offers various health benefits. It is beneficial for all age groups!
Q. What is the best way to build muscle at 40?
A. The best way to build muscle at 40 is through a well-structured strength training program that includes compound exercises, progressive overload, adequate protein intake, and sufficient rest and recovery. Consider consulting a fitness professional for a personalized plan.
Q. What exercises should not be done after 40?
A. There are no specific exercises that should be universally avoided after 40. The key is to exercise with proper form, consider any existing health issues, and adapt your workout to your fitness level and goals. Consult with a fitness professional if you have concerns.
Q. What type of gym equipment is best for weight training over 45?
A. Make intelligent decisions when selecting free weights (barbells, dumbbells), resistance machines, and functional equipment (stability balls, resistance bands) for post-45 weight training. Sort equipment according to your objectives so that it facilitates correct form and consistent progress.


You can still be fit after 40 if you use the correct weight training routines and workout equipment. When you’re over 40, it’s imperative that you include weightlifting in your regular regimen and adjust as needed.

See a cardiologist for individualized workout advice and heart health maintenance. They can advise you on the best workouts to maintain the healthiest possible heart.

Are you keen to start a fitness adventure and are you in your 40s? The Harley Street Heart and Vascular Centre is the only place to look! Our team of highly skilled cardiologists, obesity specialists, and heart health experts is committed to creating customized solutions to meet your specific requirements.

Feel free to stop by or give us a call at +65 6235 5300 to make an appointment. Your path to heart health and fitness starts here!

Written by: Dr Michael MacDonald MB ChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP (UK), MD (Research), FESC (Europe).  Dr MacDonald was trained in the UK and is a senior Consultant Cardiologis

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