Tip: 40-Plus? Do More Work

Here's why this counterintuitive advice actually makes a lot of sense.

Extend Your Sets For Better Results

If you're over 40, doing 3 sets of 8 and going home is no longer going to suffice. It may have worked when you were younger and had testosteroned-up tiger blood flowing through your veins, but not so much when you've got a 50/50 blend of tiger blood and prune juice squirting through your plaque-riddled vessels.

That's why damn near every workout should contain an extended set, drop set, or finisher of some kind and if you're not making an ugly, just-got-burned-by-dragon-fire face at the end of it, you didn't work hard enough.

Do strip sets on leg press or Smith machine squats. Rep out. Pull a plate. Rep out. Pull a plate. Rep out. Pull a plate. Rep out. Collapse into a fetal position.

Try Paul Carter's 10-6-10 method on an exercise or two. That's a 10-second isometric followed immediately (using the same weight) by 6 full-range-of-motion reps done with a 3-5 second eccentric, followed immediately (again with the same weight) by 10 partial range, little grunt reps. Here's what it looks like:

Or pick a weight that you can do about 10 reps with. Look at the wall clock and note the time. Give yourself 5 minutes to do 50 reps with the same weight, taking little bitty chunks of rest in-between sets to failure. If you actually hit 50, the weight was too light.

Mechanical advantage barbell curls like this work well too:

  • A1. Reverse barbell curls for 6 to 8 reps.
  • A2. Drag curls for as many reps as you can.
  • A3. Standing barbell curls for as many reps as you can.

You get the idea. It sounds counterintuitive and it smacks of weightlifting heresy, but you've got to train harder than when you were younger if you want to stay in the game.