Of course there are advantages to being in my 40s. I have more experience and wisdom than I did twenty years ago. My relationships mean much more than they did in those days as well, but there is no doubt that there are downsides to being in my 40s when it comes to bodybuilding.
This late in the game at my age, injuries happen much more often and are much slower to rehab. Muscle growth is also harder to come by and body fat is much tougher to shed at this age. Stress is much more easy to come by and sleep is much more important. Of course, the aforementioned wisdom does help me in being able to make smarter decisions as to how I train, eat and supplement. I wish that I could say that everything evens out, but trust me, it is much harder to add lean muscle mass than ever.
With all of that being said, if I had a time machine and could go back in time to talk to my younger self, there are a few things that I would tell my younger self (outside of going the Marty McFly route and handing myself a sports almanac).
Us older guys know how important it is to eat clean. We took a lot for granted with lightning fast metabolisms when we were younger. I could eat an entire pizza pie and work it off in the gym. Heck, these days, I cannot eat pizza without feeling my belly growing.
Take rest as seriously as you take training. It really is that simple. Sleep is tough to come by. Between long nights with work and kids waking parents up every night, sleep gets harder and harder as we get older. Take sleep seriously and get enough quality sleep each and every night. In addition to sleep, I have to mention that rest goes into the same category. Lift hard, but rest harder.
Compound Lifts Rule
I love compound movements, which are exercises that utilizes multiple joints and muscles. My workouts are all centralized around compound exercises including deadlifts, squats, shoulder presses, bench presses, pull-ups and rows. To be honest, I would be happy to just do the exercises above, but I also like to have fun with my workouts, so I will throw in isolation exercises because I like them. I like to lift, which people do not understand a lot of times. Too many people lift because they want to look good. I simply like to lift, so I tend to lift a lot.
Good Form Really Does Matter
Now that we are older, we realize the importance of proper form. A lot of things that we took for granted have come back to haunt us in the form of inexplicable aches and pains. Performing deadlifts with a bent spine hurts that much more now than ever. Arching your back during bicep curls leaves our lower back screaming in pain and begging for mercy. It is amazing how much better we feel with proper form.
Have Concrete Goals
By failing to plan, you plan to fail. Not only do you need goals, you need very specific, concrete goals that are attainable, but not too easy. Do not say that you want to get in better shape, or say that you want bigger arms. What is the ideal shape that you want to get in? How big do you want your arms to be? Be specific, but realistic. Goals have to be reachable and they need a date. Without a date, goals are open ended and you might get to them at some point, but you also might not as you keep telling yourself that you will get back to your goals later. How many times have we heard that.
Warm Up and Stretch
Warm up before and stretch in between and after. When you are done stretching, stretch some more. This cannot be stressed enough. Also, when you stretch, stretch like you mean it. None of these easy stretches that are not actually providing any benefit.