Over 40 training – SHOULDERS and TRAPS

This is the 2nd article in a 4-part series:

  • Part ONE: PECS and BICEPS (including ABS & Calves)
  • Part TWO: SHOULDERS and TRAPS (including ABS & Calves)
  • Part THREE: BACK and TRICEPS (including ABS & Calves)
  • Part FOUR: UPPER and LOWER LEGS (including ABS & Calves)

This is typically the best training approach for the older guy to train the body 4 times a week.

Foundation principles for the older body:
  1. The over 40, and especially over 50 body, cannot train like that of a 20 or 30-year old. It simply cannot take the punishment.
  2. My training regime is NOT meant to create an Arnold Schwazeneger physique, but meant to create a healthy, fit and muscular looking body.
  3. Fancy “moves” is best left to the youngsters. The older body responds optimally to time proven moves, like compounds.
  4. Calves and ABS will be trained in each of the 4 training sessions. They are off a unique muscle group that only respond to frequent intense training, unlike all the other muscle groups.
  5. If your blood testosterone is not healthy, nothing will happen. This is the number ONE important aspect an older guy venturing this route must give attention too. An easy way out is to get a HOME TESTING TESTOSTERONE kit (can be order HERE –   use 20% discount code “GERT20”) When you know your levels, then apply the T-MANAGE plan to increase levels. Here is the link to the plan: https://gertlouw.com/2020/04/13/the-testosterone-management-bible-for-men-over-40/
  6. Lastly, all the above will be worthless without a strict eating regime in place. Diet determines 80% of your muscle building success. Here is a good template to get you started: https://gertlouw.com/2017/09/08/free-cutting-building-diets-for-a-ripped-muscled-physique/

Just a note: completely new to training, follow the following regime for the first 3 months to get the body, tendons and joints accustomed to weight training: https://gertlouw.com/2014/06/02/how-do-i-start-a-body-transformation-from-scratch/


I am focusing here on a BUILDING PHASE training environment which means your aim is primarily to add muscle size at lower reps with heavier weights training. Typically, the daily calories are slightly higher during such a phase to allow quicker muscle recovery and building. After roughly a three-month period you should consider changing the Building Phase training into a CUTTING phase training which means lighter weights (I drop my weights with 30%) at higher rep range and NOT to absolute failure. This way tendons and joints gets sufficient time to strengthen and recover for the next Building Phase. Cycles needs to be constantly alternated.

Your training is 4 days a week with this fixed program and the 5th is optional when you should focus only on lagging muscle groups. Less than 4 days training and you will find you will not grow and stimulate muscles to respond.

My methodology regarding intensity required in the Building phase:

Your 8th rep is where total muscle failure occur.

  • Before age 40: Do each set to rep 8.
  • Age 40-50: Do each set to rep 7
    • (you train at 90% failure rate, meaning after you do your last rep, you should just-just be able to complete one more rep to reach point of absolute failure).
  • Age 50-60: Do each set to rep 6
    • (you train at 80% failure rate meaning that after you do your last rep, you should be able to do another 1.5 to 2 reps to reach absolute failure).
  • Age 60-70: Do each set to rep 5
    • (you train at 70% failure rate meaning that after you do your last rep, you should be able to do another 2-3 reps to reach absolute failure).
Total of 23 sets excluding warmup
Warmup - 5 to 10 min 
(purpose: get blood flowing and muscle warmed up)
  • 2-3 sets of 30 pushupsPushup
  • 2-3 sets of 25 of body squats.

BODY SQUATSNow for the growth exercises. After each set, do 1-2 min of stretching of the muscle just trained.

3 sets of 8 (each arm) 

SIDE lateral dumbeel raise BOTH ARMS

SHRUGS Dumbbell/Barbell 
2 sets of 10 

Shrugs DumbbellBarbell shrug

2 sets of 8 (each arm)


3 sets of 25 (Squeeze for 1 sec at top position)


2 sets of 10 
2 sets of 8 (not higher than shoulder height)


ABS CAPTAIN’S CHAIR KNEE RAISE (Similar to Roman Chair but knees must touch your chin without lowering your head. 
3 sets of 20.

Captains Chair knee raise

(use bench to stabilise back)
2 sets of 8, each arm. 
2 sets of 10 
2 sets of 10 


Cool-down stretches for 3-4 minutes after training of Traps, 
Shoulders, Abs and Calves muscles. 

Points to remember

  • No throwing weights. Slow controlled movements with ONLY the target muscle doing the work! No other joint movement!
  • Keep training sessions as short as possible. Longer than an hour in gym = problematic and could results in the body going in a catabolic state = bad!
  • Slight soreness the next day should be the target but NOT so sore that you struggle to move or to get out of bed. That is problematic and means the muscle fiber tear damage is too great and recuperation time required too long for recovery. Doing this regularly can result in stagnated growth and even decrease in muscle size.
  • It is a good idea to eat a banana (or apple) and drink 20g WHEY protein (mixed with water) straight after training. Here is my preferred WHEY choice and where to get it.
  • The 16 TRAINING CONCEPTS/PRINCIPLES as discussed in the previous article is key to keep this training method fresh and new. Exercises stay the same, but the attack must be ever changing with the 16 principles.

To keep training fresh and attack every changing apply the following or a similar approach (all the principles explained in detail in my ADVANCED SYSTEM II):

    • Apply Week 1: FORCED REPS
    • Apply Week 2: PARTIALS
    • Apply Week 3: PRE-EXHAUST
    • Apply Week 4: CHEATING
    • Apply Week 5: DROP SETS
    • Apply Week 6: REST-PAUSE
    • Apply Week 7: SUPERSETS
    • Apply Week 8: GIANT SETS
    • Apply Week 9: JUMP SETS
    • Apply Week10: 2-UP 1-DOWN NEGATIVES
    • Apply Week 11: BURNS
    • Apply Week 12: JETTISON
    • Apply Week 13: STRIP SETS
    • Apply Week 14: REP TARGETING
    • Apply Week 15: NEGATIVES
    • Apply Week 16: HEAVY SUPPORT
    • REPEAT


This SHOULDER and TRAPS training session is typically done on day TWO of training, which for me, is always TUESDAYS.

Next week guys, I will post day THREE which will be BACK and TRICEPS training.

 My important links:

  1. This is a generic training approach. My coaching system for the older guy, the ADVANCED SYSTEM II, incorporates all my teachings and is customised on many levels for your body and goals. It is very comprehensive and give you the complete blueprint to reach your body goals and move beyond them. You can find out more here and also signup through this link: https://gertlouw.com/my-transformation-secrets/
  2. Here is the links to order all my key supplements and training gear as discussed in all my articles: https://gertlouw.com/supplements-order/
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Wishing you all sweaty and intense training session, till next week!


Gert Louw


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