The best exercises to get abs after 40 aren’t crunches, sit-ups or endless cardio! If you’re doing endless crunches to get abs, stop right now and read this article.
The bottom line on getting abs is to get your body fat percentage at 10% or under (for a male) so that you can see your abs hiding under that layer of body fat.
That comes down to knowing your own body fat percentage right now and working out how much fat you need to lose to get to 10% body fat.
To do that you need to focus on the whole body (not just your midsection).
In fact, to get the abs you see in my picture below, the only direct abs exercise I did was forward and reverse crunches a few times per week!
Most of my training revolved around compound movements, these are the “big” exercises that stimulate 2-3 muscle groups in one movement, build the most muscle and burn the most calories.
Compound movements are perfect for men over 40, they are the safest, most productive and give you the biggest return for your time investment.
By focusing on compound movements and choosing exercises that cover the entire musculature of the body, you will build lean muscle and permanently elevate your metabolism.
Burning more calories, even while at rest is one of the keys to getting abs after 40 years old. In fact, when it comes to getting abs, I can’t stress the importance of lifting weights to build muscle.
As we age, we naturally lose muscle and when we lose muscle it gets replaced by fat!
Did you know that from age 25 a gradual muscle loss (sarcopenia) occurs, and by the time we are 50 years up to 2.5 kg of muscle can be lost if we choose to do nothing about it.
Not only does this make you look worse, fatter, and lazier, but your metabolism will slow down as a result. That means as you get older you won’t be able to eat as much food without putting on weight, making getting abs near impossible.
It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be broken…
So, to get abs past 40 years you must make resistance training one of your priorities.
Build muscle, preserve muscle, and watch your metabolism climb as a result. And to do that you don’t need to be lifting weights every day.
Three resistance training workouts per week is enough to reverse this process.
A mistake I see men over 40 making all the time is doing endless amounts of cardio to try and burn fat followed by endless crunches to try and bring out their abs.
Too much cardio i.e., running outside like a marathon runner is the worst thing you can do if you want to get lean over 40.
Especially if you aren’t doing resistance training…
Have you ever closely examined the physique of a marathon runner? You will notice they look stringy and smooth because of all that cardio training.
Although they do massive amounts of cardio, they never have abs. Too much cardio KILLS our testosterone levels as we get older and can strip away muscle – the last thing we need as mentioned previously.
Doing endless cardio isn’t the solution to getting abs past 40, cardio CAN and should be included but it needs to be moderate amounts and coupled with weight training, structured correctly.
If you compare a marathon runners physique to the physique of a 100-metre sprinter on the other hand, you will notice they have more lean muscle and abs because of doing LESS cardio.
That’s because most of their training is anaerobic in nature, i.e., a combination of resistance training and HIIT exercise.
The best exercises for abs after 40 are compound movements covering the whole body, this could mean bench presses, dumbbell presses, pull-ups or pulldowns, deadlifts etc.
It then needs to be structured into a sensible weight training routine, where you can progress in either weight or reps each week.
I’m not talking about heaving or throwing too much weight around but starting with a weight that is comfortable for you and then progressing at your own pace.
Once you have your main compound movements in place you can add in some forward and reverse crunches and some side bends for the obliques.
Other fancy abs exercises can be performed, but they aren’t necessary until your body fat percentage is low enough to see your abs, so I won’t waste time listing them here.
Proper resistance training must be coupled with a sound nutrition plan. This goes hand in hand with your workout plan.
The other great exercises for abs are either 2 high intensity workout sessions per week or 2 moderate low impact cardio sessions such as the stationary bike or cross-trainer, in addition to your weight’s workouts.
Both can work well, personally I prefer a mix of HIIT training and steady state cardio.
A HIIT cardio session could be sprinting on the treadmill for one minute followed by a 2-minute rest period, or it could be cycling for 30 seconds at a higher intensity followed by a minute rest period, for 4-5 rounds.
There are many interpretations of HIIT training, the bottom line is finding something you can enjoy and progress with.
Steady state cardio along with weight training can work just as well for getting your body fat below 10% – it just needs to be structured correctly i.e., 2 x 40-minute sessions per week.
The bottom line for getting abs is being in a calorie deficit long enough so that you’re losing 1-1½ pounds of fat per week.
Each week you should be taking a pinch of the waist using some body fat callipers so that you’re moving in the right direction to getting lean.
Stop thinking in terms of specific “magic” abs exercises and start thinking in terms of “everything” you do from building muscle all over your body, to maintaining solid nutrition so that you get your body fat percentage low enough to see your abs.
The reason you can’t see them right now is because they’re covered by a layer of fat, but you do have abs!
To see them you don’t need to be going crazy and performing every exercise under the sun. In fact, in my popular course, Ripped Abs Over 40 I teach my students how to lean down by spending only 3 short training sessions in the gym per week.
As men over 40, we can’t train the same way we used to do in our teens or twenties, that is the road to injury.
We must do everything in our power to rev up our metabolism without getting burned out in the process.
Creating a sustainable plan that not only helps you get abs but allows you to maintain them effortlessly without spending your life in the gym.
After all, training should only be a small part of your life and I’m sure you have other things to do besides getting lean.
I hope you found this article informative and if you have any questions let me know!