Squeezing in a gym session around the heavyweight responsibilities of work and family life is hard enough, without your body self-sabotaging at a hormonal level. “After the age of 30, men’s testosterone levels drop by about 1% a year,” says former Gladiator and ‘Fit at 40’ campaigner James Crossley, from Chelsea Fitness. But it’s not all bad news for the mid-life gym bro: with the right training programme, you can stop the rot. “Go for three full-body workouts a week that incorporate big, bang-for-your-buck movements like squats and deadlifts.” These compound exercises will keep your testosterone production firing on swole cylinders.
Metabolic Meal Time
Left to its own devices, your metabolism too will start to stutter. “If you're eating the same at 45 as you were at 25, you’re going to put weight on,” says Crossley. Staving off or reversing the dreaded dad bod needn’t herald an unpalatable approach to eating, though. “You want to keep your metabolism high, so you should aim to eat small, regular meals – four or five a day, roughly every three hours.” Ensure your efforts aren’t fruitless by including an apple: a Brazilian study found it keeps midlife paunch away.
Ergonomically designed desk chair or no, there’s little comfort to be found in any line of work that has had you sat down for the past 20 years. “Sedentary jobs see a rounding of the shoulders and, over time, this causes weakness and lower back pain,” warns Crossley. Introduce flexitime into your working week. “The older you get, the more important mobility work becomes, especially in areas like your rotator cuffs.” Add pectoral stretches and three sets of 10 external shoulder rotations to your upper body workouts too ease pain with better posture.
Even if your work-life balance gives you no cause to lose sleep, you’ll find getting your eight hours of shut-eye nightmarishly difficult. “After 40 your cortisol levels elevate, so you find it harder to sleep,” says Crossley. These stress hormone-induced sleepless nights are perhaps the mature man’s greatest enemy. Not only do they prevent your muscles from recuperating from today’s gym session, they leave you without the requisite energy for tomorrow’s. “Consuming magnesium at night is a good way to help sleep,” advises Crossley. Pop a supp at supper for a different kind of sleeping pill.
When it comes to sporting excellence, the odds are stacked against the quadragenarian. But there remains one area of athletics where you can actually improve on your former glories. A study by the Institute for Physiology and Anatomy in Germany found that non-elite marathon runners saw no dip in endurance performance before the age of 50, despite subjects having lower aerobic capacity than their more youthful competitors. Your lawn bowls career can wait a decade or two; it’s time to set a new PB.