Get abs after 40
So you have turned 40, and now you finally decided to get abs. The question is, how do you do it? Do you really have to do it differently because you turned 40? Is there some magic trick that you absolutely need to know to be successful?
Since you are reading this article, I will assume that you don’t have a six-pack or visible abs today, and if my assumption is correct, then you have to do something different than you have done in the past. In other words, you need to change. Does that make sense?
This small detail, “that you need to change”—and not just for one day but up to several days and even years until it becomes a natural habit—seems to be the biggest issue for most people.
Getting visible abs isn’t easy. It will take a good amount of commitment and willpower, especially now that your body doesn’t react to changes like it did in your twenties. Unfortunately, a lot of smart people understand that and take advantage of it by trying to sell “simple” solutions and “shortcuts” as a secret they have detected or a special sauce they have invented.
The only secret there is to all of this is that these people have understood and learned to take advantage of how hard it is to get a six-pack. So let me be clear: Getting a six pack will take a lot of effort for most people, no matter their age. It will take a change from your side. Getting abs after 40 isn’t different from getting abs in your 20s or 30s, but it takes more effort.
Whit that in place, let's dig into how we can tackle the problem of getting abs after 40.
Most people don’t like change. Why? Because it takes effort, and you have to move out of your comfort zone. Therefore, people who change often experience something very dramatic that makes them change. They experience something that makes them clearly see and understand the consequences of not changing, or they deeply understand the benefits of changing, so quitting doesn't become an option. We need to do the same when starting our trip towards getting abs.
Understanding Why You Want to Change:
We, as humans, make decisions based on our feelings or emotions and logical thinking—that understanding we should utilize.
First, we need to cover the logical part and understand why we want to get abs. Think about it, and write it down—why do you want to get abs? Try to be as specific as possible. If you just write, “I want to get abs because it will make me feel good,” you will probably fail. But if you write something like, “I want to get abs so I can finally dare to take off my t-shirt at the beach,” then it will be more personal and have a clear meaning for you. Whatever reason you have for getting abs doesn't matter. As long as it’s yours and you really mean it, then it’s fine.
Feel Why You Want to Change:
Now you need to feed your feelings.
Logic can often be negotiated, but feelings are much harder to deny. We know today that the majority of our decisions are based on feelings and emotions.
Go somewhere where you can be alone and close your eyes. Now imagine yourself with the desired abs. Try to really picture yourself. How does it feel? What do you do differently now? How do your soundings react, and what do they say and do? This exercise is something you can do several times to keep up the motivation.
You should have a clear understanding of your end goal and deeply feel what it will be like to achieve it, but we also need to break it into smaller steps that are more achievable and, therefore, possible to celebrate. Think about what you want to achieve in one month, two months, and so on. Make sure to be realistic and don’t set goals that are too high. Actually achieving these goals will have a big impact on your motivation along the journey.
A lot of people will neglect the above steps and just jump to the actual action. But doing so will lower your chances of succeeding dramatically. Gearing up your motivation is the biggest step towards getting abs after 40 or at any other age. The motivation for change has to be crystal clear so you both can understand it and, more importantly, feel it deep inside yourself.
No two bodies are the same, so you need to do a simple assessment to understand the right path for you. You should know your body fat percentage because that is the clearest measurement for you to understand how far you are from your goal.
If you want a 100% correct measurement, it will cost you a lot. But if you can live with 99%, then it only takes a tape measure and a click on this link.
Now that you know your body fat percentage, you can decide on what to focus on. For men, abs normally start to become visible below 20% body fat. For women, it’s at below 15%. So what do I mean by that?
All human being have abs or a six-pack. What makes then visible depends on how much fat you have that covers them and how big they are—remember, they are muscles that can be trained to grow just like any other muscle. Simply speaking, if you have a lot of fat around your belly, then that will cover your abs, and if you have small abs, they will not be visible.
The Two Scenarios:
- If you are a man with a body fat percentage greater than 20% or a woman with a body fat percentage greater than 15%, then you need to focus on the following:
- Focus mostly on changing your diet to lose fat and build muscle
- Focus somewhat on exercises to lose fat
- Focus least on strength training to build muscle
- If you have a body fat percentage lower than 20% as a man or 15% as a woman, then you need to focus on the following:
- Focus mostly on strength training to build muscles
- Focus somewhat on changing your diet to lose fat and build muscle
- Focus least on exercises to lose fat
We are almost ready to start to take action because we are motivated and know exactly what to focus on.
At the beginning, I pointed out that there isn’t a big difference between getting abs after 40 or in your 20s, but it might take more effort after 40. So before we go into the different kinds of action, please make sure to understand that your body will not react as fast to changes as it did when you were in your 20s. The path towards abs is the same, but the effort will have to be bigger.
Diet to Lose Fat and Build Muscles:
Losing weight isn’t difficult. Simply stop eating, and you will lose weight. But if you want to be smart about, not eating is probably not the best plan for several reasons.
If you just stop eating or even eat less, you will for sure lose weight, but that will include losing muscle, and you will end up in a catch 22. You will lose body fat but, at the same time, lose the size of your muscles and, therefore, the possibility of getting visible abs—you will simply be skinny. Also, if you lower your caloric intake a lot, your energy will go down, which will have an impact on your mood and motivation. The negative feelings will beat out the positive feelings that you had about getting abs, and you will probably give up.
What you need is a diet that keeps you filled with energy but, at the same time, helps you lose fat.
What you want to do is to focus on getting plenty of good proteins and cutting out fast and simple carbs like sugar, refined or white foods, and processed foods. In short what you want to do is the following:
- Cut out as much sugar as possible from your diet. Think soft drinks, candy, cakes, and so on.
- Cut out as many refined or white foods as possible. Think white bread, pasta, and rice, and swap them for whole grains.
- Cut out as many processed foods as possible. Think food that has been produced at a factory—often they contain large amounts of sugar. Examples are cereals, crackers, canned soups, most fast foods and so on.
Basically, your diet should consist of real and natural food such as meat, fish, vegetables, water, nuts, and some fruits.
What such a diet will do is to take control of your insulin levels. Insulin is a fat storage hormone. If you want to read in detail about this type of diet, please have a look at my six-pack diet article.
Exercise to Lose Fat:
When we focus on losing fat to get abs after 40 or at any other age, the diet should be your main concern—that’s where you get the most bang for the buck. But adding some good exercise into your plan will help you get results faster.
Very simply put, when you exercise, you burn calories. Therefore, exercising can help you lose fat. But to be honest, a single donut can easily make up for a 30-minute workout, so you have to be careful when selecting your type of exercise.
If you are not used to exercising, please make sure to start out easy and put more effort into your diet. Struggling with both exercise and diet is not good, so choose your battles carefully.
As simple a thing as walking can be great in the beginning. When you are exercising for fat loss, moving is the most important thing.
When you then become more used to exercising, you can start to consider the most efficient way of exercising for achieving a fat loss, which is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is extremely demanding and very hard. The good thing is that it normally doesn't last longer than 10 minutes, and the effect of such a way of exercising lasts for up to 48 hours.
The idea with HIIT is to workout as hard as possible for short intervals and then rest a bit so you can go max again for a few seconds. Doing this several times will give your body a very hard workout that will create a depth of energy for many hours after your workout.
A simple way to do HIIT could be to do as many burpees as possible for one minute, rest 30 seconds, and then do another minute of burpees. Repeating this sequence six times.
If you are ready for HIIT and want to read more about it, you can find a good article here.
Strength Exercises to Build Muscle:
If something is small, it’s difficult to see. The same goes with abs. Therefore, we need to make sure that we focus on strength training to build muscle.
When most people want to get abs, they start out with doing sit-ups. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to do sit-ups in a way that focus very little on the abs, and other exercises are more beneficial for strengthening your abs. Let's have a look at them.
Leg and Knee Raise:
Even though this exercise requires a pull-up bar or a power tower, it is absolutely worth considering purchasing one to do this exercise because it really will work your abs. To get the most out of the exercise, it’s important to raise your legs or knee higher than 90 degrees because this is the point where the abs really take over.
Planks have become very popular for working your core—meaning abs as well—and it really is efficient. But as with the knee and leg raises, you to have to make sure that the abs are engaged. This is done by tilting your pelvis backward.
Like planks, this exercise is isometric, meaning that we put the abs under tension and just hold them in that position. Hollow holds are a basic exercise for all gymnast and for a good reason—they will make your abs rock solid.
L-Sit and Dragon Flag:
These exercises are really advanced, and you have to have very strong abs and core muscles to do them. If you can do them, you already have visible abs.
To find the right strength exercises that fit your level and a good progression template, I would like you to read my article, “Calisthenics Ab Workout.” There you will learn everything you need to know to build strong and visible abs.
Now you have the complete guide for how to get abs after 40. I also recommend you read the article I mentioned to get all the details to successfully reach your goal.
Get abs after 40 - summary:
You can get abs after 40, and there is no secret or special sauce to get it. If that were the case, I guarantee that big health and medicine companies would have killed for the patent and made it into a pill that they could make billions of dollars from. The secret sauce you have read about above, and it’s simply to follow these steps.
As mentioned, getting abs after 40 will probably take more effort and willpower than when you were in your 20s because the body simply reacts slower. Therefore, the first step of really creating the right kind of motivation is extremely important for a successful path, and getting that right is winning 80% of the battle.
I wish you all the best with getting abs no matter if you are 40, 20, 50, or 30. Please let me know how you progress