As athletes get older their performance is no longer what it was. This varies widely by sport. Golfers can remain champions right through their forties, and those over the age of 50 still compete among themselves. Very few football players are still able to compete in the NFL once they hit 40. Female gymnasts are rarely still world-class once they cease to be teenagers. And you won’t see many male bodybuilders over 40 competing.
Success in bodybuilding at the pro level generally requires a lot of physical maturity. Only a few competitors, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Casey Viator and Lee Priest, have had a lot of success right out of their teens. Bodybuilders have historically tended to peak in their thirties — and nowadays even their 40s.
But nothing lasts forever, and that definitely applies to muscle mass. Some champions, however, have been able to maintain impressive physiques at age 50, 60, or even beyond — though not at the level of their competitive best.
All of these bodybuilders have two things in common. For one, they never quit training. We’ve seen a few physique competitors try to make a comeback after laying off from training for a number of years. It’s possible, but it evidently takes a number of years to achieve this. Trying to do it in just a year or two won’t work.
Another thing they all have in common is that they stopped lifting really heavy after the age of 40 or so. They trained lighter and relied more on machines than free weights to avoid injury. Look at how legendary trainer Charles Glass trains the veteran bodybuilders who seek out his services, and you’ll see this approach in action.
The following are a few examples of how male bodybuilders over 40 can stay fit and injury-free: