Exercises to Fight the 40s

Even if you’re just starting out at 40, you can be as fit as most 20-year-olds with some dedication and a sensible workout plan.

What is the best workout for people over 40? A definitive answer depends on your genetics, upbringing, and the sports you played. How many hours do you sleep, and what is your medical history? What kind of personality do you have? Some research suggests that 49% of your traits come from genetics, and 51% from the environment.

All these factors play a significant role in figuring out the right workout for you. However, there are certain traits that 40-year-olds tend to share. I will give you a workout that can be done in three stages. Each person should decide what stage they belong to based on trial and error. My recommendation is always start lower and build yourself up. It’s okay if you’re higher in some exercises and lower in others, level-wise. Based on that, we’ll come as close as possible to an ideal workout, for you, my 40-year-old peer. First of all, we are going to start with walking three miles wearing a 200lb vest. Wait, you’re not ready for that yet? No worries, one day you may be!

Even if you have just started working out at the age of 40, you can be as fit or more fit than the average 30 year old in a relatively short amount of time. I have seen many people in their 40s as fit as athletic 20-year-olds. 

I have used variations of this workout since my early 20s, and its efficiency has been proven for decades. Do every exercise for one set for as many weeks as needed. Once you get strong enough and feel ready, do 2 sets of each exercise.

Warm Up

1-2 minutes

  • Level 1: Running in place
  • Level 2: Jumping jacks
  • Level 3: Mountain climbers

In between each of the exercises below, do 30-45 seconds of active rest, including:

  • Level 1: Walking
  • Level 2: Slow pace jogging in place
  • Level 3: Fast pace running in place


1 set of 10 reps

Begin by going down into a squat, keeping the spine neutral. Keep looking straight ahead, and keep your knees tracking in line with your feet. Keep the weights steady at shoulder height as you descend. While returning to standing position, keep your core tightened and press the weights straight overhead. Return to the start position by returning the weights to shoulder height.

  • Level 1: Thrusters without weights
  • Level 2: Thrusters with 10lb bar
  • Level 3: Thrusters with 2 x 15lb dumbbells

How to Get Stronger at Thrusters

Push Ups

1 set of 15 reps

Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Ensure your body is straight. Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows, and lower yourself until your arms are at a 90° angle. Exhale as you contract your chest muscles and push back up through your hands to the start position. Don’t lock out the elbows; keep them slightly bent. Keep your core tight during the entire push up.

push ups

  • Level 1: Push up from knees
  • Level 2: Half range push up
  • Level 3: Full range push up

Avoid These Push Up Mistakes

Squat Hammer Curls

1 set of 10 reps

First, go down into a squat with your spine neutral, your chest high, and your shoulders back. Keep looking straight ahead. As you squat down, keep your knees in line with your feet. As you return to a standing position, begin the hammer curl. Keep your elbows close to your torso. Hold your upper arm stationary, and curl the weight and forearm up while contracting the biceps. Lower the weights, return to standing position, and repeat.

squat hammer curls

  • Level 1: Squat hammer curl without weights
  • Level 2: Squat hammer curl 2 x 10lb
  • Level 3: Squat hammer curl 2 x 20lb


1 set of 15 reps

Lay face down on floor. As you exhale, raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor simultaneously, and hold this full body contraction for two seconds. Relax and return to starting position. Repeat.


  • Level 1: Supermans
  • Level 2: Supermans with 5lb dumbbells in hands
  • Level 3: Supermans with 10lb dumbbells in hands

Lunges With Triceps Extensions

1 set of 10 reps each leg

Keep your upper body straight, engage your core to maintain a straight posture, and look forward. Use both hands to lift the dumbbell over your head until both arms are fully extended. Now, step forward on one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90° angle. Make sure your knee does not go past your toes. As you are lunging down, with arms overhead, lower the dumbbell behind your head by flexing at the elbows. As you return to standing, simultaneously extend your arms back overhead. Repeat with the other leg lunging.

triceps extension lunge

  • Level 1: Stationary lunge with triceps extension
  • Level 2: Stationary lunge with 10lb triceps extension
  • Level 3: Stationary lunge with 20lb triceps extension

Half Squat Bent Over Row

1 set of 15 reps

Hold the bar with palms facing down. Get into a partial squat and lower your upper body until it is almost parallel to the ground. Keep your head up. Next, while keeping your upper body stationary, exhale and lift the bar towards you. Keep your elbows tight to your sides. As you lift the bar, extend your knees 3-4 inches to a half-squat position, never fully extending to standing position. Once the bar is close to your body, hold for a second and contract your back muscles. As you inhale, slowly return to starting position.

squat rows

  • Level 1: Without weights
  • Level 2: 15lb bar
  • Level 3: Two 15lb dumbbells