Building Muscle After 40, 50, 60, and Beyond: Expert Advice

man over 40 building muscle

Building muscle after 40 can be tough. As you age, developing mass and keeping on top of your strength training routine takes a little more grit, determination, and planning—but it’s more than possible.

We know that when it comes to grabbing muscle gains when you’re 40 or over, the challenge lies in physical and mental barriers. 

You might not feel like your body can take the strain it once could in your 20s or 30s—and your energy levels may not be what they once were in your slightly more youthful days.

Armed with the right knowledge and a few Smart hacks, you can (and will) reach your full muscle-building potential. And, we’re going to help you.

Here at Smart Protein, we believe in empowering people to achieve their health and wellness goals without the confusing jargon or nutrition intimidation.

So, read on to discover what to and what to avoid when you’re building muscle after 40.

Building muscle after 40: The hard facts

To support muscle growth, there are a few things you should know before you start your journey. Here are some of the hard facts about going for consistent muscle gains in your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond…

  • On average, your muscle mass decreases by 3 to 8% every decade once you hit the age of 30 (1) 
  • Lifestyle factors, including juggling family life, personal commitments, diet, and general movement, play a big role in your ability to build or maintain muscle as you age.
  • Developing more muscle mass and strength training is not only achievable from the age of 40 onwards—but it also comes with a treasure trove of health benefits.
SmartFact: Studies show (2) that regular resistance training and building muscle mass when you’re older is linked to improved wellbeing, bone density, brain health, joint health, and longevity. Plenty of reasons to start your muscle-building adventure—and stick with it!
old people training
Select an Image

Muscle-building mistakes to avoid at 40

Before we look at ways of building muscle after 40, we’re going to tell you what to avoid doing at all costs to consistently smash your goals with confidence.

Let’s dive in.

Not warming up properly

As you age, your joints become less flexible, increasing the risk of injury during resistance training. Failing to weave dynamic stretches and joint mobility exercises into your warm-up routine can lead to strains and sprains. This will only slow you down and stunt your progress—so never go into your training sessions ‘cold.’

Overlooking the importance of recovery

The body's ability to recover diminishes with age. Prioritising active rest periods, proper nutrition, and hydration between workouts is a must if you want to grab those all-important muscle gains. 

Getting enough sleep plays a pivotal role in allowing muscles to repair and grow—so aim for seven to nine hours of quality slumber each night.

Focusing solely on isolated muscle-building exercises

Relying solely on isolated exercises may limit your overall muscle and strength development. 

Compound movements—like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses—engage multiple muscle groups at the same time) and are crucial for building functional strength. More on that soon.

Not doing any cardio

While resistance training is the main player when it comes to muscle growth and maintenance, cardiovascular exercise is essential for heart health and overall fitness. 

Striking a harmonious balance between strength training and cardiovascular activities will help you stay energised, maintain a healthy weight, and keep working towards your goals consistently.

SmartTip: Check out our essential guide on how to stay fit when you’re 50 or over for fitness-boosting facts and insider advice.
old athletic person running
Select an Image

Build muscle as you age: How to grab consistent gains

Now that you know what to avoid, we’re going to hit you with tips, hacks, and hints for building muscle after 40.

We’ll kick things off with a few hints on training.

Train smart. Don’t overdo it.

When you have to work that little bit harder to build mass (and you do when you’re 40 and over), it can be tempting to go bananas, training every single day in a bid to get bigger or stronger. But, it doesn’t work that way.

To develop healthy muscle mass, you have to look at the bigger picture. In addition to pushing hard with your resistance training sessions, you have to strike the right overall balance while getting into the right lifestyle habits.

First of all, it’s how you train that counts—not how often you pump weights. So train smart. To spark real muscle growth, consistency is the aim of the game and here are a few tips to train smart…

  • Aim to strength train around three times a week. Doing so will allow you to train consistently while putting your best foot forward with every session. That’s how to get the gains you deserve.
  • Avoid switching your exercises or workouts too much. Make sure you cover every key muscle group each week, focusing on progression and form over mixing up the resistance training medicine. Doing so will keep you motivated and help you reach your goals consistently.
  • Take part in a moderate cardio session on one of your weekly rest days to aid recovery and keep your body supple. A brisk walk or a few lengths in your local pool will do the trick.
SmartTip: Try our no-nonsense beginner training plan to build muscle to tackle your training sessions with Smart way.

Embrace rest

We’ve already touched on the importance of recovery—and for good reason. You already know that avoiding recovery periods is a bad idea and can lead to injury—so embrace rest and use it to your body-boosting advantage.

Even the youngest athletes need rest and recovery days. When you’re a little older, taking the time to rest and recover will actually help you build muscle mass more consistently while helping you get more from your training sessions.

Muscle growth and repair actually happen during your rest periods. So, here are some tips to help you recover better, faster, and more efficiently…

  • Weave active rest activities into your weekly routine to improve recovery and maintain your general wellbeing. Try a spot of dancing, yoga, Tai Chi, hiking, swimming, cycling, or anything light, leisurely, and easy on your joints.
  • Get a sports massage or perform recovery stretches to fight muscle soreness and bounce back faster between training sessions.
  • Eat well, take time to put your feet up, and get into a solid sleep routine.
SmartTip: Work through our essential rundown of muscle recovery tips to make the most of your rest days and reach your goals faster.

Eat the right stuff

First of all, staying hydrated is essential to building muscle well. In addition to drinking between 11 and 15 standard cups of water a day, you should make sure that you eat well—and that means getting enough protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats (these are known as ‘macronutrients’) from whole food sources.

In addition to getting your daily fill of macronutrients, you also need to consume enough calories to build muscle consistently.

Find out how many daily macronutrients as well as calories you need to keep building muscle with a free online calculator.

What to eat at a glance…

For maximum muscle growth and swift recovery, here are some foods you should consider adding to your diet…

  • Eggs and quality dairy products
  • Whole nuts and seeds
  • Lentils and legumes
  • Fatty fish packed with omega-3 goodness
  • Lean meats
  • Oatmeal
  • Tofu

Nutrition is as important as strength training when you’re building muscle at the age of 40 or over. Put in as much planning, prep, and effort with your meals—and you’ll reach your muscle-building potential.

SmartTip: Check out our definitive list of foods for building muscle for the nutritional advice you need to succeed. 
old person taking supplements
Select an Image

Boost your muscle growth the Smart way

By warming up well, prioritising recovery, training smart, eating well, and keeping consistent—you’ll maximise your muscle-building efforts and become stronger than you ever thought possible.

To boost your energy levels, improve recovery, and fill in any nutritional gaps, taking the right supplements is a wise move—especially when you’re over 40.

Our Build Muscle Kit and Vegan Build Muscle Kit both include three supplements designed to elevate your strength training performance, aid muscle repair, and keep your hydration levels in the green.

Add one of these kits to your training and exercise routine, and you’ll make your quest for building muscle journey all the more successful.

We hope this Smart Guide gets you where you need to be. For personalised product recommendations based on your specific needs, take our quick-fire quiz. We’re with you every step of the way.


Smart Protein is committed to sourcing only the best and scientifically-based research in our articles.

1. Ncbi:

2. Ncbi:


Back to blog
Selection Of Smart Protein Products

Let’s get Smarter together!

Ready to level up your goals? Join our supportive community today for exclusive product news, expert advice and epic rewards