This post is going to focus on a few workout templates to try out and tweak if you are over 40.
Exercising each and every day…
…without becoming exhausted in the process.
The body begins to “default into decay” at some point in your 40’s or 50’s. Daily exercise is the signal your body needs to override the default aging process.
I discuss this in detail in part 2 of this series.
Does daily exercise sounds tough or exhausting?
Well…the workout templates I’m going to lay out are geared towards increasing energy NOT depleting it.
I’ve found that doing something 7 days per week is, in some ways, easier than trying to do it 4-5 days per week.
Daily repetition is the way to create a habit.
…and habits are the way to do things on autopilot (little effort).
So let’s get right into the workouts.
#1: The Clarence Bass “Lift Once Per Week” HIT Template
This is a workout outlined based around the way Clarence Bass has trained the past 10+ years. This guy has stayed ultra-lean (5-6%) and muscular since 1980.
He is currently in his late 70’s and still super-lean and healthy.
This workout is a modified version of HIT…the one-set-to-failure approach that Mike Mentzer and Arthur Jones made popular in the 60’s-90’s.
This is a bare bones outline.
Exercise Selection: Choose 8-9 exercises that work each muscle group in the body. For instance these 8 exercises would do the trick: Squat, Bench Press, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Chin Up, Tricep Extension, Barbell Curl, Hanging Leg Raise, and Standing Calf Raise.
Sets and Reps: 2-3 warm-up sets per exercise and just 1 work set. Aim for around 6-10 reps, depending upon goals. Track your workout and try to maintain or improve in reps or weight on a consistent basis.
Only 1 resistance training workout every 7 days?
Clarence Bass took Mike Mentzer’s low volume one-set-to-failure approach and reduced it to the bare minimum.
In fact, if Clarence doesn’t feel 100% recuperated, he will take 9 days in between resistance workouts!
I figured Intermediate-to-Advanced lifters would enjoy this.
A large segment of the people who buy my courses and read my site and newsletter have been training for 15+ years.
The gym can get dull if it feels like the movie Ground Hog’s Day.
This minimal routine could be a fun thing to try out.
I like the idea of using a contrasting program to get the body to respond, once a routine gets stale.
Note: Full details of Clarence Bass’s minimal routine are found in his book “Challenge Yourself at Any Age”.
Also…bring tunes that get you pumped up for intense sets.
My preference is early-to-mid 90’s techno.
Trippy techno that they blasted in huge warehouses back in the day, works for me.
Stuff like this gives me serious energy…
Just bring your favorite music to the gym, because it makes a difference!
#2: The Greg O’Gallagher “Minimal RPT” Template
Greg O’Gallagher has a number of popular programs based around gaining size and losing fat with a minimum amount of time working out.
The term “Minimal RPT” describes it well.
RPT stands for Reverse Pyramid Training.
All that means is that you do the heavier low-rep sets, before the lighter high-rep sets.
My recommended tweak for 40+ year olds: Simply add in walking on your off days, and possibly one HIIT cardio workout once per week if you have the energy.
I’ll include his general outline with my added tweaks (walking).
Exercise Selection: Choose 4-5 exercises for Workout A and 4-5 exercises for Workout B. The goal will be to work the entire body by the time you go through both workouts.
Example for Workout A: Incline Press, Standing Press, Skull Crusher, Lateral Raise, and Hanging Leg Raise.
Example for Workout B: Weighted Chin Up, Hang Cleans, Barbell Curl, Bulgarian Split Squat, and Standing Calf Raise.
Sets and Reps: After warming up do a set of 5 reps. Rest 2-3 minutes and reduce weight by 10%, then do 7 reps. Rest 2-3 minutes and reduce weight by another 10% and do one last set of 9 reps.
So 3 total work sets per exercise.
Since I mentioned classic techno and shared a video above…
I have to include one of the greatest electronic tracks of all time.
It came out in 1991 and is still amazing to this day.
I just need to talk my gym into turning down the lights, installing a fog machine, and shooting green lasers into the free-weight area!
Okay, back to reality.
#3: Visual Impact “Strength Without Excess Size” Template
Like Greg, I have a number of programs for various goals.
I’ll share with you one of the setups I recommend when men and women want definition with little to no extra size.
The key here is to lift short of failure in each set.
Training to failure is what breaks down and builds the muscle.
Not training to failure allows you to train each muscle group more often…since less recovery time is required.
Repeated frequent sessions, that don’t break the muscle down, are an ideal way to build definition without excess mass.
Exercise Selection: Two exercises per body part. Simply choose exercises that you feel in the target muscle group.
Example for Workout A: One Arm Dumbbell Row, Lat Pulldown, Barbell Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Press, Lying Leg Raise, and Planks.
Example for Workout B: Seated Dumbbell Press, Lateral Raise, Alternate Dumbbell Curl, Concentration Curl, Triceps Kickback, and Lying Triceps Extension.
Example for Workout C (optional): Squat and Dumbbell Step Ups. A lot of women in particular have larger legs than they would like. In this case I recommend that they just do legs once per week…or skip entirely until the legs slim down a bit. The HIIT cardio will help maintain leg definition.
Sets and Reps: 4-5 sets of 5 reps for most exercises. The key is to stop 2-3 reps short of failure for muscle groups you don’t want to add size to. Higher reps can create a “pump” in the muscle, which contributes to growth. Since this particular routine is strength without size, we can avoid that by sticking to lower reps.
Note: Are you a woman who wants to add a ton of muscle? No problem…there are a gazillion programs that can teach you to do that. My women’s program is aimed at helping women get stronger without having to go up a few sizes in jeans.
One last thing…
You can almost always benefit from walking.
Feel worn out?
Walk for 45-60 minutes.
Don’t have time to get to the gym?
Walk for 45-60 minutes.
The reason I wanted to show Clarence Bass’s minimal routine, is to get you to realize that it is fine to skip a workout if you don’t feel recovered.
Just get in some sort of daily exercise and you will be good!
I really do believe that moving more NOT less, is what improves long-term health.
Hopefully these workout templates give you some ideas on how to incorporate daily exercise into your life.
As a former fitness coach to fashion models, I can teach you how to increase muscle definition without adding size.
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