It is never too late to turn your chubby or unfit body into an athletic figure. In fact, there is no reason why bodybuilding over 40 should be any less effective for you now than it was 20 years ago.

However, before you dive into strength training here are some precautionary tips to protect your health as you exercise.

After you have researched bodybuilding and fully understand the unique needs for fitness over 40, you should study the success stories of other men and women bodybuilders your age. Find several people whose fitness goals and body styles are similar to yours. Use them as role models to develop your own training schedule and program. Pay special attention to how gradually they began training, including reps, weights, rest, and cycles.

When you first begin bodybuilding over 40 it would be best to choose a longer cycle that gives you plenty of rest. Your body will need more time for renewal and repair because it is not used to or primed for this activity.

Ideally you would work out one or two muscle groups on day 1. On days 2 and 3 you would rest. On day 4 you will train another muscle group and then rest for two days. On day 7 you would work out the remaining muscle groups and then rest for two days before beginning again.

As you become more advanced, you can decrease your rest periods and shorten your cycles if you prefer.

Do not push yourself in the beginning by adding too much weight. Younger people often start off with too much weight. They cannot really start at a higher weight than you, but their bodies can repair the damage they are causing more quickly. In fact, you should start out at a very low weight.

This amount varies, but make sure it is low enough so that you can maintain control at all times and perform the proper movements.

When you first begin bodybuilding over 40, you will want to start with higher repetitions in addition to your lighter weight. About 15 reps are a good beginning. Some fitness experts recommend a "periodized" style where every other cycle uses lower reps with higher weights.

You will have to judge your body's ability to adequately renew and repair before you begin this type of cycle. As you advance in your bodybuilding program, you can eventually lower the reps and add more weight to every cycle.

A proper warm up is also very important if you want to prevent injury and give your body the maximum benefit from your training. In addition to thoroughly stretching out your body, most experts recommend a 5 to 10 minute light cardio workout.

Afterwards, you should warm up the specific muscle group you will be training by lifting half the weight. For example, if your goal for the training session is to lift 200 pounds, then start by doing 10 reps of 100 pounds or less.

If you have a previous injury, make sure you care for it. Even if you have an injury from a decade ago or earlier, you will have to be cautious not to re-injure yourself. You should always consult a doctor before beginning any bodybuilding program, but especially if you have been hurt in the past. Your doctor may recommend braces to help you or suggest you avoid certain activities.

If you follow these simple recommendations you will be practicing safe bodybuilding over 40. If you have more questions or are nervous about injuring yourself, ask a certified trainer to show you the best way to train your body. Using caution and asking for help will get you prepared for a more intense workout later and get you started on the road to fitness success.