5 of the Worst Exercises For Men in Their 40s

Men and women in their 40s exercising

Men and women in their 40s exercising | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Growing up means learning to roll with the punches. Those punches come in a variety of different forms, and life can throw all kinds of curve balls at us throughout the decades. That includes physical changes that, in your teenage years or 20s, you simply didn’t see coming. And that’s a big reason why, as you age through your 30s and 40s, the exercises you used to rely on to keep you in shape aren’t the best options any more.

Once you hit your 40s, your body is well passed its maturing age — and you’re likely past your peak physical condition. From here on out, as much as it sucks, it’s about deterioration. At least to some extent. There are all kinds of things you can do to make sure you stay lean and muscular. It just gets a little harder to do it.

In your 40s, your body isn’t going to bounce back as it once did. Injuries will nag you a little longer, and if they’re serious enough, may never fully heal. For that reason, men in their 40s need to take special precautions when working out, and avoid certain exercises and lifts that will lead to excess and unnecessary strain, and chance for injury.

That includes a number of exercises; from high-impact endurance training that will completely wear your body out, to extreme workouts that are better suited to younger, more spry men. Not to say you can’t do these things — it just might be a better idea to rethink your workout.

We’ve covered the exercises you should avoid in your 20s and 30s, and now, we’ve compiled a short list of exercises and lifts to avoid if you’re in your 40s. Read on to see them.


1. Smith machine and leg press

Leg press

Leg press | iStock

This is an exercise that appears on pretty much every list of exercises you should avoid. While the Smith machine and the leg press will help you build muscle, trainers warn against using them because they auto-correct your body, in a way, into pushing weight unnaturally. Basically, you’re on rails — and that can put extra strain on your ligaments and joints, causing injury. That’s the last thing you want if you’re in your 40s, so stick to free weights and barbells to give yourself some leeway.

 2. High-impact exercises

CrossFit members warm up by jumping rope

Jumping rope at a gym| iStock

As we mentioned in the introduction, high-impact exercises fatigue your body, and put a lot of stress and strain on your muscles, ligaments, and joints. This can include all kinds of exercises, from jumping rope to long-distance running. You’ll feel it too, if you’re a runner. Your body likely used to bounce back after a long run fairly quickly, but as you age, that process elongates, and your body needs more time and resources to repair itself. Try different methods of endurance exercises, like bicycling, or swimming.

3. Long-distance running

long distance running

Long-distance runner | Thinkstock

We just said it, and here it is again — you might want to rethink your long-distance running habit. Many people run well into their golden years, and that’s fine. But just be aware that as you age, you’re increasing your chance for serious or chronic injury. Your body just can’t take the abuse like it could when you were in your 20s. Again, try out some alternatives. Swimming is an excellent idea, as it works every muscle you have, will give you the cardio workout you want, and provide virtually zero-impact throughout.

4. “Extreme” exercises

group of athletes doing lunges at a CrossFit facility in France

Lunges as part of CrossFit training|Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

There’s a fitness trend going on all across the country, and it includes tossing tires, doing Kipping pull-ups, and doing rapid-fire power cleans. You may know one such trend as CrossFit. It looks like fun, and people swear by these types of workouts. But if you’re in your 40s? You might want to skip it. They’re simply too intense. Again, you’re trying to avoid injury and risky exercises. Going too extreme won’t help you in that regard.

5. Dips

Bodyweight dips

Bodyweight dips | iStock

The final exercise to avoid? Dips, or bodyweight dips. Dips are a popular and relatively easy exercise to do, and are a staple for many looking to build their core and arm muscles. But they aren’t the best exercise for those looking to steer clear of injury. Specifically, dips put a lot of strain on your shoulder and arm ligaments and tendons, which can lead to injury. Try some dip alternatives, or just be more mindful of your form when doing them to stay healthy.

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