Struggling With Fitness Past Forty

Fitness past forty can be as simple as removing obstacles and stripping away the unecessary parts that are preventing you from progressing.

You've probably read a ton of these kind of articles before and so I'm going to bear that in mind and try not to retread old ground. I'll present some of the common sense ideas I use to help keep my clients coming back consistently and moving forward with their fitness. These are just my opinions and what I've seen during my thirty plus years of being around gyms and the people who use them. In your efforts to get fit past forty perhaps you'll recognise some of the behaviours below.

You throw money at a problem instead of effort!

Many people believe that simply stumping up with cash, putting money where their mouth is, is enough. To be honest it's a pretty good start but it needs to be more obviously. I'll explain what I mean.

Hiring a personal trainer and visiting the gym once a week whilst it is certainly better than nothing it's not going to work so well if you pin your hopes of a celebrity transformation on this level of committment. There are 168 hours in the week, your one hour of physical training doesn't even register 1%. 

What would work then?

What would be better then? Two or even better three 45 min sessions would be a great start coupled with activity outside of the gym. This activity can be as mundane and measureable as 10,000 steps. If this level of actvity causes heart palpitations then start where you are. Barely getting 3,000 steps per day? Aim for 4k and build from there. Build on success rather than beat yourself up for missing a target that is too high (for now).

Looking at this from a slightly different perspective. Your body is lagging reflection of the choices you make. Pizza vs burgers (burgers generally lower cal option) Gym vs couch and Netflix, walking vs driving. Twenty or thirty years of these kind of decisions accrue and you wear the body that reflects these decisions. You know that things cannot be reversed with a less than 1% committment but you tell yourself that you just don't have the time.

You don't have the right programme, diet plan, genetics.

There are many psychological models of behaviour change but one that that appears to be neglected is the Theory of Planned Behaviour. It suggests that a crucial element of instigating change is believing that you can. Do you have it within you to perform what's required for long enough to achieve the desired outcome?

More than motivation

Many coaches and trainers focus goal setting and how to motivate their clients but miss the most important piece. Does the person wanting a specific fitness outome believe that they can achieve it. No? Then this needs to be examined, the bottlenecks need to be identified and one by one removed before any meaningful progress can be made.

If you don't believe that you have the right programme, diet plan or genetics to succeed then it is going to be very tough to move forward as these are mere distractions that confuse the real issue. The lack of faith in yourself when it comes to getting what you say you want. 

You have deliveroo on speed dial.

You know all of the delivery drivers names and they all know where you live and what your regular orders are... Stop!

You neglect cardio

Going for a run, cycle, swim or row can be amazingly beneficial for your heart. As I've said many times before you can get by in life with a weak arm or shoulder but a weak heart? Not so much. 

I was never a big fan of getting my cardio done but a couple of things that have made it much easier are

  • Doing it in a group setting with others makes a huge difference. Perhaps there's an inherenet level of competitiveness or support that you get from being part of a group that you just don't get when you train by yourself. Members of the group can cheer you on to greater heights than you would have ever thought possible. Having someone in your corner or a bunch of people in your corner really does help.
  • Wearing a heart rate monitor has been a game changer for me as it allows me to gamify things and record my results and compare previous performances. Maybe I'm just a tech geek but I find that it made something that I perceived as dull and boring become something exciting to be challenged.
Gym Member Watches TV

You like sitting down on machines in the gym

Is this you? I put this in for a joke... kind of.

This is a genuine photo I took last week at my gym. I don't mean to embarrass anyone at the gym but watching a soap opera whilst training intensely don't generally go hand in hand. Neither does taking the lift to the first floor to go and ride the stationary bike!!

Every time you sit down on a machine in the gym you take your core out of the equation. Yet this is the bodypart that most people seem to want to work on. When you push against resistance whilst standing, squating or lunging your entire core region is involved firing relentlessly to allow you to perform the movement. 

If you want to make the most of your time spent in the gym, and who doesn't ? Then sooner or later you're going to have to pick up some heavy stuff from the floor, put stuff over your head, squat against resistance, lunge and finish off with some core work. It is not the rocket science that many would have you believe.


You don't need to know the names of all of the muscles you're working, neither do you need to understand the strength curves of certain movements. Much better to go all in on a handful of movements that suit your body type and progress with them.

A solid programme is built around resistance exercise two to three times per week, add in a couple of days of cardio and walk every day. This is the activity side of things covered now focus on nutrition.  For weight loss start with calories and quantity of food before just about anything else.

You can download my Nutrition Essentials book here.


Pick a handful of movements and practice them mercilessly whilst progressing in weights / sets / reps.

Understand that motivation is fleeting and fickle. Set realistic and timely goals and then remove the obstacles one by one until you reach your goal.

Nutrition is clearly important but implementing what you already know is more important than procrastinating in hope of perfection.

Portion control and overall calorie consumption is more important than the quality of food at least initially. If you are six stone overweight then losing that six stone is the priority not the fact that you eat organic eggs and artisan sourdough for breakfast.

If weighloss and looking good is your goal then stand up whilst working out at almost every opportunity and don't ride the lifts when there's a perfectly good stairs on offer.

Some Example Basic Movements / Workouts From My Youtube Channel

About the Author Stephen Devine

Steve not just a skilled Crossfit Coach, but a top-tier CrossFit Competitor who's ranked in the top 1% worldwide in the 2023 Crossfit Open! And this is despite spending six weeks on crutches following surgery to fix a broken ankle just a year ago. He's Qualified as a Crossfit L1 Coach, Crossfit Gymnastics, and is also a qualified Olympic Weightlifting Coach.

follow me on:

Leave a Comment: