I strongly believe that getting lean for men over 40 is all about balance.
If you’re in your 40’s or older you might remember the scene in the film Karate Kid where Mr Miyagi tells Daniel that “balance” isn’t just about karate only, but your whole life.
It really got me thinking that he’s right, especially when it comes to getting and maintaining a lean physique.
There’s too many training and nutrition strategies that teach you to throw everything out the window while you work towards getting a lean body, leading to frustration, burnout and injury.
But approach it by taking a balanced approach and everything becomes a lot easier.
Getting lean will take some work, sacrifice and dedication but you need to approach it without using a “shot gun” approach.
If all you’re doing is obsessing about your nutrition, performing endless weight training and cardio sessions, then sooner or later something will need to give.
But when everything is in balance, the right combination of strength training, the right amount of cardio and a balance of daily calories that include healthy proteins, fibrous carbohydrates and healthy fats, getting lean is a lot easier as it blends in with your lifestyle.
When you’re recovering properly between workouts and eating enough calories that keep you feeling full without placing exaggerated stress and strain on the body, getting lean becomes an enjoyable process rather than something you can’t wait to get over and done with.
Compare that to obsessing with your training and nutrition, lifting weights every day, doing endless cardio sessions, chugging down protein shakes and eating bland meals 5-6 times per day and you soon realise that getting lean that way is completely crazy.
It’s all about balance and getting lean whilst maintaining balance in your life is the fastest and most productive route to maintaining a lean, strong and healthy physique for life.
A lifestyle approach to nutrition
Eating for a lean physique is all about hitting your daily calories consistently, getting adequate but not huge amounts of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats each day.
Never resort to skewed eating patterns such as drastically cutting down on calories, cutting out carbs or lowering fats too much.
That method of eating might give you short term gain, but the whole process will be a very miserable experience.
Cut out carbs and you’ll feel weak, miserable and encourage binge eating. Cut out fats and you’ll kill testosterone as fats are essential for healthy testosterone production.
The first step is determining how many calories your body burns at rest and then eating to lose 1-1½ lbs of fat per week.
Losing fat quicker than this always backfires, losing fat slowly is the fastest way to long term sustainable fat loss.
Hitting your daily calories is very important, even if you eat too many “clean foods” you’ll still gain fat.
On the other hand, if you’re eating too few calories your body will sense there’s a famine around the corner and it becomes more difficult to drop fat as a survival mechanism.
The key is to get the right balance of nutrition, strength training and cardio that gets you lean without consuming your life.
The importance of strength training
I can’t stress the importance of strength training enough to get lean. I’m not talking about huge, bulky muscles of a bodybuilder, but just enough muscle that looks natural and great on anyone.
But here’s why strength training is so vital to a lean physique…
The amount of lean muscle you have on your body largely determines how many calories your body burns per day.
The more muscle you have, the more calories your body will burn even at rest, so when you’re sat watching your favourite TV program your body will be burning more calories than someone who doesn’t do any strength training.
They’ve learnt to permanently elevate their metabolism, making gaining fat much harder than someone who doesn’t lift weights.
A huge mistake to get lean is relying on diet and cardio alone. When you drop “weight” that weight will come from muscle, fat and water.
By incorporating strength training, your weight loss will primarily come from fat, exactly what you want to create a lean, chiselled body.
That’s why if you want that truly awesome, natural looking physique with the broad shoulders, tight waist and defined chest, strength training is a must!
Three strength training sessions per week is all you need to lean down nicely. This will fit in perfectly with your busy life, won’t over-train you and most importantly gives you the best results!
For strength training stick to compound movements. The reason is compound movements are a tried and tested way of boosting hormone production, lean muscle AND are joint friendly.
No other exercises will do more for a man over 40 like compound movements will! By doing multiple sets of low reps you’ll get stronger and won’t over train your central nervous system which is very important as a natural lifter.
Lifting weights is about building a nice, natural amount of lean muscle that looks awesome, you’ll look lean and defined with low levels of body fat.
The power of walking
Once you’ve got your strength training and nutrition plan dialled in, use the power of walking to expend even more calories.
The great thing about walking, is it complements your strength training and nutrition plan and doesn’t interfere with your recovery.
When you’re already in a calorie deficit as you must be to lose fat, adding in excessive amounts of cardio can kill your testosterone levels.
But getting out at the weekend and simply going for a walk for 30-40 minutes will burn a lot of additional calories whilst being enjoyable, it will compliment your strength training and nutrition.
Another way of incorporating cardio into your routine is to perform a cardio-strength circuit using back to back compound exercises with lighter weights.
These circuits really help to burn additional calories, are joint friendly and will drastically improve your conditioning.
This is exactly what I teach you to do in my Abs Over 40 Program. By lifting weights 3 x per week and using my highly effective cardio-strength circuit you’ll lean down nicely.
You don’t need a lot of training to get lean if the program is designed correctly.
Getting lean is all about following an effective program such as my Abs Over 40 program, that doesn’t over train you. It won’t happen overnight but if you focus on each week so that your body looks slightly better than last week, long term success will take care of itself.
Here’s to your success in fitness and health!