Rio Ferdinand workout that keeps him fit in his 40s

Former professional footballer Rio Ferdinand is in incredible shape: these are the exercises that help him stay swole in his 40s

Rio Ferdinand workout exercise routine
(Image credit: Rio Ferdinand/Instagram)

One thing is for sure: Rio Ferdinand likes lifting weights in his home gym, which probably helps him to stay fit in his 40s. And when I say weights, I don't mean tiny-little dumbbells either, more like full-size barbells and big boy home weights. Rio might not be as muscular as Game of Throne's Mountain but he is still pretty swole, especially considering he isn't a bodybuilder by trade.

Looking at Rio Ferdinand’s Instagram account made me think of that video of a man shouting “Damn BOI HE THICC!”. The now 42-year-old ex-Man Utd player indeed looks pretty good for his age and just in general: delts popping, arms bulging, pecs almost poking through those tight workout tops.

And while some footballers, like Cristiano Ronaldo, are famous for keeping their bodies in top condition for the duration of their career, most professional athletes tend to let go quite a bit once they retire from competing. Not Rio, though: he is putting ample effort in now, in his 40s, and it really shows.

Granted, Rio looked pretty decent even before started paying attention to his fitness regimen, but evidently, there was room for improvement (not in a bad way, though). And as much as we are sure the photo was done right after a workout, that doesn’t take anything away from the results. Hard work and the right diet will almost always result in improved physique. 

What home gym equipment does Rio Ferdinand have?

Judging by his Instagram page, Rio has access to the best home gym equipment including the best dumbbells, best barbells, best weight benches and even a power rack or two. Home gym machine-wise, we spotted an elliptical trainer and a treadmill, both being perfectly adequate to supplement strength training with some occasional cardio sessions.

What exercises does Rio perform in his home gym? That’s the real question. We painstakingly analysed his profile and found the following exercises. 

Strict shoulder dumbbell press

One of the best exercises to build deltoid definition. It's called 'strict' because this exercise almost isolates and really 'overloads' the shoulder muscle. Of course, it's impossible not to use the triceps when extending your arms like that, so you get shoulder and triceps gains too. Win-win.

Weighted dips

For most people, standard bodyweight dips will be plenty hard enough but should you have the triceps strength, feel free to add more weight to your dips. One of the best exercises to grow the triceps, not to mention it tones abs and strengthens the core too.

Incline bench press

Mix up your bench press training with incline bench presses. Adding some incline will use the same muscles in a different way which might just get you out of that muscle building rut you've been stuck in the last three months. The angle sweet spot for the weight bench is around 30-45 degrees: go lower and you might as well just do standard bench presses, go higher and you might end up working the shoulders instead of the pecs.

Hammer curls w/ resistance bands

If you have an adjustable dumbbell, such as the excellent Bowflex 1090i, you don't necessarily need to add resistance bands to your biceps curls, but having some resistance bands within arm's reach will enable you to do much more than just curls. Resistance bands are one of the most underrated home gym equipment and they can be used to add (or reduce) resistance to almost any exercise.

Farmer's carry

Talking about underrated things: the farmer's carry is one of those exercises every beginner should do to build strength, yet hardly anyone does. This one exercise is basically a full body move in one and one of the best compound movement along with deadlifts, squats and push ups. It works the shoulders, arms (especially the forearms), upper back, quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and definitely the core.

Overhead press

Do you want big arms like Chris Hemsworth? Start doing overhead press. This compound exercise will work your delts and triceps the most and help you sculpt those big guns you keep on dreaming about having. The overhead press will also help strengthening the core too.

Front raise

The front of the shoulders are often forgotten, even among bodybuilding circles, as people think doing bench press will also work this area. And while that is true, working this area directly can mean the difference between having 'okay' and 'wow' deltoid area.

Barbell curl

You know what barbell curls are for. Using a barbell for curls will build strength as you can go real heavy. Stop asking questions and just do it. 

Romanian deadlift

'Not skipping leg day' is the new 'skip leg day' and when it comes to the best leg exercises, Romanian deadlifts are almost always near the top of the list. Sometimes also called stiff-legged deadlifts or un-deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts will give your hamstrings a run for their money. Guaranteed DOMS the day after.

Dumbbell incline press

Similar to the barbell incline press mentioned above, the dumbbell incline press works the pecs almost the same way but using dumbbells, you can perform the exercise unilaterally, meaning only pushing one dumbbell at the time, helping strengthening muscle-mind connection as well as the muscle themselves.

Weird bouncy weighted pull ups

In all honesty, I'm not sure what Rio is doing there. Maybe training the calves? He would be better off doing the same movement with jump ropes.

Push up going into renegade row

A perfect push-pull exercise in one, push up going into renegade row will practically work the whole upper body, including the upper back, triceps, biceps, shoulders, pecs, core and everything in between. Yet another exercise you should be doing more often.

Oblique twist

Oh, the Russian twist! What's not to love about it? Again, just do it and you'll see them abs popping very soon.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.