Once we hit our forties, we have to admit that our physiques are harder to maintain than ever before. What worked in our twenties and thirties does not seem to be working in our forties! Is it over? Are we destined to fade away into our senior years?
I say NOOOO! As we age, our hormone balance changes, which is natural, and along with those changes body composition will also change. Mid-life means that there will be gradual increased fat deposits and muscle loss (called sarcopenia) but we can maintain healthy and attractive bodies beyond our middle years with some adjustments to our diets and exercise regimens. In my book Second Chance at Health-Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating, I discuss diet and exercise regimens that work for middle aged people.
In my experience middle age men and women will often ask me what the best exercise, and my answer is the one that you will do. They laugh, I laugh, but it’s true. More knowledge is not going to change your middle. Applying your knowledge will!
The Six Pack Abs are Just in the Cooler
Abs after 40 are NOT impossible to obtain! The first bit of information that a middle aged person should obtain is their body fat percentage. I have found that many of my clients do not have an absence of abdominal muscles, but as the saying goes “their four or six pack is just in the cooler”. If this is the case, and there is abdominal fat around the trunk of the person versus visceral fat, which I will discuss later in the article, then lowering the body fat will often be what reveals their abdominal muscles.
Body fat percentage recommendations vary depending on age and gender, but generally speaking for an adult middle aged male the body fat percentage should be between 8-19.9%, and 23-33.9 % for adult females. When body fat percentage is higher than these, the muscles that are there are covered in fat tissue! The way to reduce body fat is by changing your diet!
The Tanita scale is a specialized scale that will give you data using electrical impedence to determine many parameters, but the ones that I find most important are total body fat and visceral body fat percentage (for this article). Visceral body fat is the fat that is located around the body organs in the abdominal cavity. Those with high visceral body fat tend to be apple shaped, and have a large protruding round abdomen. This type of abdominal fat is more resistant to fat loss than fat that is not considered visceral fat. Losing visceral fat is not impossible, but it takes more dedication and more time to lose than the other type.
Lose the Cooler
So my suggestion for those with body fat higher than their recommended is to LOSE to the highest number in the range, 19.9% for males and 33.9% for females, and then assess how you feel about your abs! I bet you will be pleasantly surprised that they ARE there, and had been all along! If you feel that you want more definition, and then seek to be closer to the lower end of the normal range.
For those with visceral fat, your goal will be the same body fat percentage; however, losing fat in the abdomen will be later than in other areas of the body. I have seen men get frustrated that they lose their butts and then still have a large protruding belly. I tell them to persevere and eventually that visceral fat will disappear and then they can remodel their bodies through proper exercise.
So how do you get abs after 40? FIND them! Lose your body fat to within normal range and on the lower range if you want smashing abs.
Good Ab Exercises to Do
Of course I have some suggestions to build them as well! The best exercises for abs over 40 include the old school sit ups, crunches, side crunches, lower leg lefts, flutter kicks and planks (regular and side)! The BEST exercises for abs are the ones that you will do.
You can start out with 3 sets of 10 progressing to 5 sets of 10. My rule of thumb for the number of repetitions that I aim for is my age! Progress to doing the number of repetitions to your age in years! That way you will always be doing more! So your goal will be 3 to 5 sets of say 42, then next year 43 and so on!
Mid-life is not the time to give up on yourself, indeed, at mid-life you can take your second chance at health and head into your retirement years looking and feeling awesome! You won’t be looking like a twenty something, but you will look and feel like a healthy 50 something!
I have written a book just for us in middle age, called Second Chance at Health: Learn to Love Active Living and Clean Eating! In my book you will find suggestions for eating plans and exercise plans that can help you get your body fat percentage to within normal limits to find those abs!
Order my book now to discover the BEST diet and exercise plans for YOU!
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