Nothing can stand in the way of aging. Sooner or later you’ll start to see the signs: fatigue, crow’s feet, diminished muscle tone – and of course, workouts that aren’t quite as effective as they used to be.
The sensation of hitting the gym and getting nowhere can be extremely frustrating for guys over 40, especially for those looking for gains that just aren’t happening. But is it time to give up and give in to old age?
If your body isn’t giving you the results you want, you just need to take a different approach. Proper supplementation can help you improve any workout, shaving years off the performance of your body.
Best Supplements for Men Over 40
With so many so-called workout supplements on the market, most men new to the supplement game have more questions than answers in the vitamin aisle. Should I take everything I can find? Nothing? Play supplement roulette until something works?
On top of that, if you’re a guy over 40 you’ll find it difficult pinpointing which workout supplements are best suited for you, and most of the products offered aren’t targeted to your specific needs. Luckily, a little self-schooling can go a long way.
Supplements are designed as a way to enhance or replace what the body can’t do naturally. As a man over 40, it’s important to focus on the reasons behind muscle loss and the improvements you want to see.
In general, loss of muscle mass is driven by three changes in the body:
- Sarcopenia – A form of age-related muscle loss that’s related to anabolic resistance. This muscle loss starts occurring at around age 40, resulting in up to an 8% decrease in muscle mass per decade after age 40. This causes a noticeable decrease in both muscle size and strength, as well as metabolic rate (see below). (1)
- Fat gain – Associated with a lower metabolism. The decrease in muscle size caused by sarcopenia leads to diminished strength plus a lower metabolic rate. As a consequence, increased body fat is inevitable.
- A natural loss of testosterone – Commonly referred to as andropause, it’s a major contributor to age-related muscular atrophy. This drop in testosterone starts at around age 30, and continues at a rate of about 10-20% per decade thereafter. (2)
An ideal supplement regimen will target these factors, helping to boost testosterone, speed up metabolic rate, improve anabolic resistance, and enhance recovery for safe, effective muscle gain. Accordingly, men over 40 who work out are encouraged to take supplements like creatine, BCAA’s, protein, pre-workout supplements, testosterone boosters, and HGH supplements.
If you’ve been working out for even a short period of time, you’re no doubt familiar with creatine. A nitrogenous amino acid that occurs naturally within the body, creatine is popular among professional athletes for its ability to promote muscle growth, increase strength, and boost athletic performance in high-intensity, anaerobic activities.
When consumed, creatine supplements transform into creatine phosphate in the body. This is a key part of creatine’s effectiveness; creatine phosphate supports the production of adenosine triphosphate, also known as ATP, a source of energy important in muscle contractions.
The good news for men over 40 is that creatine supplementation might actually offer greater benefits for older guys than younger guys. Research indicates that with age, the body’s ability to utilize creatine only increases, resulting in even better results from your workouts. (3)
Creatine is widely accessible as powders and capsules and is intended to be consumed right before, after, or during a workout.
Recommended: CrazyBulk Ultimate CRN-5
BCAA’s, or Branched-Chain Amino Acids are a group of essential amino acids that make up about one third of our skeletal muscle tissue and are critical for proper body function – but they aren’t manufactured by the body. The only way to obtain these amino acids is through diet or supplementation.
BCAA’s consist of three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three aminos are called the “building blocks” of protein and play a critical role in muscle repair and growth.
Branched chain amino acids are found naturally in many high-protein foods, like meats, legumes, nuts, and certain grains.
Other than obtaining BCAA’s from food, many people take BCAA supplements in order to obtain greater, more complete dosages. Especially for those who regularly engage in strenuous exercise, supplementation is necessary since higher amounts of aminos are needed for building and maintaining muscle mass.
Amino acid supplementation can decrease fat synthesis, aid in healing skin and bone, help protect muscle tissue, improve cognitive function, and may even help repair brain injury. Needless to say, these benefits are especially helpful for older guys, and are crucial are for anyone regularly lifting weight in order to build lean muscle mass.
Recommended: Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine
Protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, no matter your age. However, increased quantities of protein can also be useful for your gym routine as well.
For men in middle age, whey protein, a derivative of the cheese production process, is often suggested. Rich in amino acids (including those known for promoting the growth of new muscle tissue, like leucine), whey protein can play a key role in muscle-building and may also have connections to faster muscle recovery.
Protein, including whey protein, is often available in a powder form that is normally consumed immediately before a workout.
Recommended: CrazyBulk Tri-Protein
A pre-workout is a supplement (typically a powdered drink mix) taken prior to exercise that is used to boost workout performance. For many older guys it can be difficult to get going and stay going due to a lack of youthful energy that we once took for granted.
To get that extra boost of energy for your workouts, a good pre-workout supplement is just the thing to get you up and running, allowing you to work out harder for longer, and stay motivated and focused.
While the ingredients used in pre-workouts will vary widely, most share a few specific benefits. These include:
- Enhance blood flow
- Boost energy
- Increase power and stamina
- Improve focus
- Aid in the recovery process
Blood flow is usually increased by boosting nitric oxide – a naturally-occurring substance in the body that is formed from the breakdown of the amino acid l-arginine. Used as a form of communication between cells, nitric oxide facilitates circulation of the blood and serves as a regulator for elements of the cardiovascular system.
When taken as a supplement, however, nitric oxide can stimulate vasodilation, or dilation of the blood vessels, which allows for an increase in oxygenated blood. This process can also lead to an increase in anaerobic threshold over time, leading to improved performance in the gym.
For increased energy, power, and stamina, these supplements will often contain stimulants like caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, or herbal ingredients aimed at enhancing these benefits. For improved focus and motivation, nootropics are often added to help with concentration and a positive mental attitude to get the most out of your workouts.
Pre-workout supplements should normally be ingested 20 to 30 minutes before exercise.
Recommended: 4 Gauge Pre-Workout Supplement
For men suffering from clinically-diagnosed low testosterone, hormone replacement therapy as prescribed by a doctor is the most effective path forward. For those who simply notice symptoms associated with a natural decrease in testosterone, however, a supplement that can boost the release of free testosterone will help you regulate T levels for better results in the gym.
Contrary to what many may believe, natural testosterone boosters do not introduce additional amounts of testosterone into the body. Rather, they free up testosterone that is already in the body that has become neutralized by SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin).
These products come in all shapes and sizes, but most effective products will include ingredients like:
When evaluating these products, look for those that contain all-natural components and are free from untested chemical compounds.
See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Testosterone Boosters.
Besides testosterone, HGH, or human growth hormone, is another major contributor to the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength, among other conditions. This hormone is an anabolic agent that is manufactured in the pituitary gland.
It’s a stress hormone overseeing cell reproduction and regeneration responsible for growth in children and adolescents. After the body ceases growing taller, growth hormone starts to quickly decrease and normally drops off significantly in adulthood.
Similar to testosterone, HGH levels begin to diminish after age 30, but at a far greater rate. Restoring HGH levels has been shown to offer several benefits to health, including an increase in lean muscle mass, reduction of body fat, and faster recovery from exercise and injuries.
Because this hormone is only available legally in the US with a prescription, HGH is typically very difficult to obtain, and its use is associated with various health risks. The hormone must be injected on a regular basis, and is very expensive.
Luckily, you can stimulate your body’s own production of growth hormone naturally by taking HGH support supplements. These products contain a wide assortment of ingredients, but typically you’ll find components included like specific amino acids, vitamins, herbal extracts, bovine colostrum, and pituitary extract, among others.
Many of these supplements tend to be ineffective, since they’re taken orally where the ingredients become destroyed during digestion. The more effective products are offered as either time-released capsules, as an oral spray, or both.
Although growth hormone supplements can never produce the same results as injections, they still offer benefits, and are generally safe to use and free of side-effects.
Recommended: Pituitary Growth Hormone (pGH)
See Also: The Ultimate Guide to HGH Supplements.
See Gains With Supplements
Unfortunately, there’s no true way to regain your youth, but proper supplementation can help you get part of the way there. Of course, maintaining a proper diet also plays an equally important role, but by adding a supplement regimen to your training schedule, it’s possible to see the gains that have long been eluding you since middle age set in.