Lean Torso at Any Age
IT TAKES WORK to have defined abs as you get older. I know people who train regularly, and for neither love nor money, they have yet to achieve a six-pack. And it gets harder through midlife because you lose muscle mass causing your metabolism to slow down; your body becomes less efficient at turning food into energy.
This is what causes the well-known 'middle-aged spread'. It happens to many people after age 40, even if their lifestyle and diet don't change.
As well as building muscle, losing extra weight during midlife becomes more challenging. The sex hormones, especially testosterone, declines with age, along with human growth hormone (HGH), making it much harder to lose weight and gain muscle. Women have it worse with their suite of health issues relating to reduced levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
Men can have up to 30% more body fat than they did in their 20s by the time they are in their 60s and 70s. Compared to women, who naturally have a distribution of primarily subcutaneous fat, which accumulates under the skin, especially in the gluteal area, men are more prone to gain visceral fat over the belly and inside their abdominal cavity, surrounding their internal organs.
At 64, I'm not as taut as I was in my twenties, but I still prefer 'Lean’ over 'Bulk'. My body fat % is in the 12% – 16% range, which is sustainable for people who exercise regularly. A lean body muscle mass (low body fat with visible muscular definition) can help protect against bones losing their density as you age. Osteoporosis and frailty in later life can put you at significant risk as they lead to falls and fractures.
Building strength is empowering. That is why the internet is awash with midlifers posting pictures of their muscles. Everyone wants to be strong and getting visible abs, but it is very challenging and needs a lot of commitment, so it becomes a badge of honour. The abs are there; we all have them, but you must put yourself in a sustained, focused health and fitness programme to see them. As ever, with everything regarding bodywork with age, you need to allow a reasonable timeframe to achieve a lean body because it does taketime. Realistically, it can take twelve months to lose a significant amount of body fat safely.
I taught my first fitness class over 40 years ago and I have witnessed how my body's composition has changed with age. What I did in my twenties does not work in my sixties. Midlifers are living longer, and with over one billion people now at 60 +, trainers need a more specific approach to age-related fitness.
The government recommends that people exercise for 150 minutes per week doing moderate-intensity activity. That’s about 30 minutes a day just walking on a treadmill five times a week. It should be more like a minimum of 60 minutes of daily exercise, and you can achieve this by putting more energy into everything you do.
However, not everyone achieves that level. Instead, people have become more sedentary, with a significant drop-off in physical activity levels, especially as they age, or for those looking for an exercise strategy that requires as little time as possible — hence, the rise of short, high-intensity interval training programs.
The first step to defining your abs must start with fat loss – nutrition. The second step is to see exercise as not a way to lose weight but to improve your well-being.
Eat right, train smart and the ideal body composition (those defined abs) will be achievable by following my full-body exercise program which encompass the five components of physical fitness: cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, mobility, muscular strength, and endurance.
I focus on developing a more efficient body that is less prone to the mechanical ravages of ageing, training the body as a whole. There is an emphasis on the trunk region because it is the most critical part of your body and can be harder to train than other parts.
You don't have to make significant changes to get fit, lean, and defined. All you must do is do the right kind of exercise, as opposed to punishing your body with excessive overload, or trying to get away with the bare minimum. The 'Midlife Fitness' program is a form of exercise that will not only slow the ageing process but will also provide you with the highly coveted ‘six-pack’.