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Getting—or staying—in shape after 40 hinges on one primary thing: Mastering basic range of motion and body mechanics. In other words, getting your body comfortable and strong moving in the ways it is naturally supposed to is key—and something many guys post-40 still haven’t mastered, says Kelly Starrett, creator of MobilityWOD, a resource for helping athletes address the issues that limit movement, and the creator of San Francisco Crossfit. While you may be able to get away with it in your younger years, “In your 40’s, you don’t have the ligament and tissue tolerance anymore to not have this competence in your system,” he explains.
“There are a few key positions that you need to incorporate that allow your body to always be ready for the movement you need it to do,” says Starrett. (That means training to be able to carry your groceries or kids, jumping into a pickup game, or being able hoist your suitcase into the overhead bin.) The five key movements to getting you there are: box squat, front squat, deadlift, standing press, and bench press.
And while none of these core five exercises are exotic, they are ruthlessly efficient in getting you the strength gains you want. “Each of these allow you to progress infinitely,” Starrett says. What’s more, mastering these moves will help you ward off injuries, loss of muscles mass, and the dreaded “dad bod.”
You can do this workout in your gym or in your own garage, but the key to maximizing the benefits is to do them regularly.
And don’t forget to sprinkle in some cardio, other activities, and favorite hobbies. “Get on your mountain bike, go on your run with your friends, kayak, get in the pool, do whatever you do—and then come home and crush these lifts,” Starrett says. “You’ll quickly realize that you’re squatting to make your hips work better on that run.”
Perform 3 times a week. Start with just the bar, a 20-pound kettlebell, and 20-pound dumbbells. Each time you do the workout add five pounds to each move.
Alternate between a jog, jumping jacks, row machine, or stationary bike until you break a sweat.