As we enter middle age, all sorts of factors can make it harder for you to stay lean and achieve the flat belly you’ve always wanted. For starters, our hormones begin to change, we start to lose muscle mass (your body starts losing 3% to 5% of muscle mass every decade after 30), and our jobs may force us to live a more sedentary lifestyle. At the end of the day, it’s a perfect storm that results in less energy, more stress, and more pudge around your midsection. I trust that none of this will take you by surprise.
That’s why, in order to carve out that flatter stomach after 40, there’s no getting around the basics: strength training regularly, getting in regular cardio (even if it’s just taking a few brisk walks every week) to offset your sitting, eating a healthy diet at a calorie deficit, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking enough water each day. As it pertains to the gym, however, the single best way to exercise your way to a flatter stomach is to engage in the right targeted core training regimen.
If I told you, “Go to the gym and work your core,” I can probably guess what you’d do: You’d find a corner to yourself and do some crunches, side bends, and probably some sit-ups. While those are all well and good and I certainly have nothing against a crunch, doing those exercises—and doing those exercises with too much resistance and volume—will actually cause your muscles to hypertrophy (or get bigger and bulkier), which is actually the opposite of getting flatter. Assuming you’re eating right and priming your body get lean, you’re better off engaging in more functional core exercises if you want that tight, flat stomach.
Remember: The primary function of our core is to stabilize the spine, and to transfer power. This means you should be performing exercises that force you to get better at those functions. If you’ve done everything right and you’re dedicated to doing this training, trust me: You’ll see a flat belly soon. With that in mind, here’s how to put this exercise trick into practice with four movements you can incorporate into your existing routine. I’d advise you to do each of these exercise a few times per week, and at least 2-3 sets each time you do them. And if you’re in the market for something more hardcore, see here for a 5-Minute Full-Body Blast That Will Pack on Muscle and Melt Fat Fast.
Get on all fours with your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Draw your stomach in as hard as you can, and hold that position while maintaining tension in your core. Relax your abs once you’ve held on for the prescribed time. If you’d like to see someone who is shockingly good at this, don’t miss The Scary Abs Exercise Video That’s Going Mega-Viral.
Tie a resistance band around a sturdy beam and take a step out to the side to get some tension on it. Hold the end of the band with a pronated (overhand grip) with both hands and a wide foot stance. Keeping your core tight, rotate the band across your body from your upper back (thoracic spine). Flex your obliques during the entire range of motion, then return back to starting. Perform all prescribed reps before switching sides. And for more great workouts, learn why These 5-Minute Exercises Will Make You Sleep Like a Teenager.
Begin the exercise by lying flat on the ground holding either a dumbbell or kettlebell above you with one hand and your knee bent and foot planted on the same side. With your opposite hand, plant it 45 degrees out to the side. Push through your planted foot and raise the weight to the ceiling.
As you come up, shift your body to opposite side and get up. Keeping your arm straight overhead, lift your hips off the ground until they are fully extended. Slowly begin bringing the opposite leg behind you so your knee is planted.
You should be in a lunge position with the hand, knee and foot in a straight line. From the kneeling lunge position, stand up straight with the bell overhead. Once you’re standing up, simply reverse the process step by step back to the floor while keeping your eyes on the weight. See here for a great video demonstration of this move.
Start by lying flat on your back on a bench with your feet straight and lower back flat. With your hands gripping the top end of the bench, begin raising your feet towards your eyes. When you reach the end range of the movement, kick both of your legs up into the air. Then lower your legs back down to the ground slowly under control, maintaining tension in your core, with your ribs pulled down. Return to starting position before performing another rep.
Remember: Achieving a flatter stomach after 40 requires a solid diet, regular strength training, and cardio conditioning. It also requires the proper core exercises, as well. Implement these four movements into your routine and you’ll see the changes you want. And for more life-changing exercise advice, see here for the Secret Exercise Tricks for Keeping Your Weight Down for Good.