Don’t change your dial! You heard me correctly. Six pack abs CAN be a reality once you cross the dreaded 40-year-old mark. And honestly, I really don’t get that. Why is everyone so doggone scared about hitting the 40-year-old mark?
There are actually two very different schools of thought going on about this thing called aging. And I happened to be exposed to both of them a little while back when I was on tour back east.
It’s actually a very interesting situation. So there is a growing number of people who turn 40 and just simply give up. They expect to be sick, they expect to get injured, they expect to have chronic pain and they expect to be handed a cocktail of medications from their doctors that they will take for the remains of their lives.
Then you have the “other” ones. Those who do not want medications. They choose to live a healthy life and refuse to let age slow them down by even the slightest of margins. If you go to a restaurant and order water with cucumber slices, you just might get coined as “one of those.” But don’t worry because that’s a good thing.
If you want to age gracefully AND achieve the monumental feat of carving a six-pack into your midsection after 40, then you have no choice but to be one of those. And this is what we are specifically going to talk about today.
So without any further finagling, let’s get down to the heart of the matter.
Abs over 40 tip #1: Healthy Diet
I can’t tell you how important diet is! Yet, I still get blank stares and dirty looks when I tell clients and people in general that they need to stop drinking alcohol, stop eating processed food and stop sucking down those million-calorie coffee drinks from Starbucks every morning.
With the exception of an occasional adult beverage among friends, I am as solid as a rock with my diet. That is non-negotiable. If you are over 40 and want six-pack abs, you best follow my cue here.
And it’s not really age-related. It spans all generations. Simply put, if you think you can get six-pack abs and eat whatever you want, you got another thing comin bub! You have to be willing to make sacrifices and give up certain foods, whilst adding others that you might not want to add.
Ideally, the secret sauce here is to follow a high-fiber diet with a plenitude of prebiotic and hormone-boosting foods Allow me to elaborate, in case you are confused.
The phrase is not “You are what you eat.” It’s a little more like, “You are what you digest.” If you follow the typical, hideous daily diet of most people, then think you can shovel down a kale salad with bean sprouts and get a good effect, you are sadly mistaken.
You just spent most of your life eating unhealthy foods, so you basically destroyed all the good bacteria in your stomach. Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But you likely did do some damage and there is a lot of room for improvement.
Now it’s time to undo what you’ve done. And the best way to do THAT is by starting from the ground up with prebiotic foods. These are the precursors to probiotics, which everyone has fallen in love with over the years.
I hear it all the time out on the streets… “Yeah, I just started taking a probiotic to improve my gut health.” Well that’s great, but there’s a bit of reality here that you’re missing out on.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that reside in your gut. If you take an exogenous probiotic, you are not feeding the pre-existing probiotics in your gut. You are likely renting a pill or liquid that likely won’t do much to rebuild your good bacteria. And THIS, my fine-feathered friend, is where prebiotics come to the table. Sometimes, literally!
Prebiotic foods are the ones that feed the probiotics. If you start eating these, you will finally then start building strong probiotics in your stomach. Once you do that, you will start breaking down the food you consume and have higher energy levels, better brain function, balanced hormones, a better sex life, better skin, less inflammation, and the list goes on and on…
Fast forward to your kale salad with mung bean sprouts. If the good bacteria in your gut has been rendered useless, you will miss out on the nutrients that it has to offer. Restore it back to optimal levels and you’re in business!
All that’s left for you to do is include prebiotic foods in your diet. Here’s a list for easy reference.
I know what you’re thinking, “Hey K/Rail, what about fermented foods?” There’s nothing wrong with them at all. They too should be added to your diet if you want to build a solid stomach on the inside AND out.
Fermented foods and beverages are loaded with probiotics. That’s what makes them good compliments to prebiotic foods. Together, they provide a double whammy of benefits. Kind of like when a man and woman meet and form a power couple who go on to rule the world.
I personally love fermented foods and include them in my diet every day of the week. These include the following:
Cultured coconut milk yogurt
Notice there is no mention of yogurt or kefir up there. That’s for good reason because I am predominately vegan. And even on the days where I do eat animal products, dairy is not on the set list.
But hey, if you want to include yogurt and kefir, go for it. Just know that yogurt is one of the most overrated, probiotic foods in the grocery store.
One last thing I’d like to mention about your diet is fiber. All the attention these days seems to be directed at keto and paleo and cutting carbs from your diet. I call bullocks on that! My diet is high in fiber, which is found in carbs.
And I’m not talking about a few grams. I bet I get somewhere in the range of 40 to 50 g of fiber a day. Mind you, I follow a time-restricted eating (TRE) schedule too. More on that in a second.
By getting a lot of fiber from a diverse amount of foods, you further produce a positive impact on your microbiome and gut health. I eat all of the above foods, plus beans, whole grains, berries, lots of vegetables, and occasionally sweet potatoes and yams.
Follow suit if you want to really make a difference in your overall health and have a midsection to feel proud of. Never worry about what the folks down the street are doing when they cut way back on carbs. You are not them. You are YOU!
ABS OVER 40 TIP #2: Fasting
And this gives us a good segue to elaborate on fasting. First of all, TRE, which I mentioned above, is a form of fasting. Simply put, the time in which you eat is shorter than the time in which you fast on a daily basis. If it’s easier for you to address this as ‘intermittent fasting,” or “IF,” then be my guest.
The goal should always be to fast for a minimum of 12 hours a day. That should be a piece of cake! No pun intended. Saying you can’t fast for 12 hours a day is like telling me you can’t exercise for 10 minutes a day. I call bullocks once again!
But, to really make some changes, melt some fat and get your abs to show up and say “hey,” you should extend these daily fasts more in the 15-to-18-hour range. On a personal level, I currently do 16 hours a day and eat two meals in an 8-hour time span.
I also suggest having no snacks in between and make sure to swallow your last calorie from food or beverages by 7 pm. Ideally, it’s earlier than that though. Late-night eating is probably about the worst thing you can do for your body.
Not only does it disrupt your sleep, but it also disrupts your body’s ability to produce human growth hormone (HGH). If you want to have adequate recoveries from workouts, a boosted immunity and build muscle, then stop eating late at night!
ABS OVER 40 TIP #3: Working out Fasted
Here is another trick of the trade revolving around fasting that you might not be doing. I go to the gym and see people slugging down shakes and bananas and cups of yogurt before their workouts all the time.
I guess this makes sense, being that they’ve been told to do so by the experts for metric tons of years. Well, I’ve got a news flash for ya, when you eat before a workout, your HGH levels drop and insulin then rises.
Remember, HGH is a muscle-building, age-reversing, master hormone that you want to be elevated. If it is high going into your workout, you will be in a favorable position to build and maintain lean muscle mass. If it is low, you are going to have to work harder to achieve the same benefits.
I’m not trying to put a damper on your day here. But I just want you to know what’s really going on inside that body of yours. And if you truly want to carve out some abs, especially when you cross the 40 years of life mark, start working out in a fasted state.
By doing this over the course of time, your body will actually become fat-adapted, where you burn fat as a primary fuel source while working out. It is at that point that you have really achieved something monumental and you will really start noticing a change in your definition.
In a perfect world, you would be able to work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach after a good 10-plus hours of fasting. I find the magic number for me is 12 hours.
If you are lucky enough to know researchers like I do, they claim the best time to work out is after 19 hours of fasting. But I feel that’s a bit of a stretch for me. And if you’ve never fasted before, I promise it will be a bigtime stretch for you.
Stick with waking up and letting it rip on empty. Even if it’s 8 hours, you’ll still benefit from low insulin and high HGH levels.
ABS OVER 40 TiP #4: Kettlebell Training
OK, now it’s time to really get down to business over here. Kettlebells are arguably my favorite training tools of all time! And for good reason. You will not find a more transformational tool anywhere!
One of the things I love most about them is the fact that you can pair multiple exercises together in a quick and easy sequence known as a complex. A swing/snatch/windmill is a good example of this.
You are doing two higher intensity, or “ballistic” drills, coupled with a grind, which causes a high amount of tension on your muscles.
By doing a heavy dose of drills that require a high amount of tension on your abs, while doing complexes, you will burn a ton of fat, build a ton of muscle, and most importantly, gain definition in your stomach.
The added muscle you gain indirectly effects your ab definition because it causes a rise in metabolism. This contributes to more fat being burned throughout your body, which includes your gut. Isn’t that marvelous news?! The answer is “yes.”
All you have to do now is get some kettlebells, learn how to use them correctly and watch the results pile up right before your very eyes.
ABS OVER 40 TIP #5: HIIT Workouts
Alrighty, it’s only fitting that we end this journey together with a quick discussion about HIIT. I’ve been doing this form of protocol way before it even became a thing.
In case you are completely in the dark, “HIIT” stands for high-intensity interval training. In these workouts, you simply alternate back and forth from high intensity to low intensity.
The goal is to really step on the gas with the high-intensity bursts, then make your lower intensity bouts the same amount of time or slightly longer to recover. There are many variations, but that’s the basic gist.
By doing these bursts of effort, you once again give your HGH levels a boost, AND you raise your metabolism for hours after you are done, AND you burn a lot of calories while working out. That’s a three-pronged plug that can quickly translate to definition in your breadbasket!
Six Pack Abs Reality
Up to this point, you have not heard a peep about doing crunches. That’s because they are overrated and unnecessary when it comes to building abs over 40. In fact, they are overrated and unnecessary to build abs at any age! But I digress.
You can always throw ab-specific drills into a HIIT workout like mountain climbers, bicycle crunches, Railbiters, Bombrailis and K-rockers (exercises I invented…DM me to see how to do these). But in the big picture, if you are getting a high amount of tension in your abs through kettlebell drills or other exercises, they WILL develop and shine through. Provided of course, you follow the rest of my advice on diet and fasting.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to give me a shout via our Contact Us page and don’t forget to sign-up for our 6 week coaching package where you can work directly with me and Dr. Mark Testa to transform your body and mind.
About the Author: Kevin Rail is Chief Fitness Adviser for Train for Longevity, Creator of the My Six-Pack Challenge, and an internationally known and sought after fitness coach featured in the documentary films, “Fasting” and “The Motivation Factor” by Doug Orchard Films. He specializes in functional training, core training, three-dimensional movement, motivation, and Restorative Arts.
Kevin holds a Bachelor of science degree in Sport Management/ Fitness & Wellness, and is a certified fitness trainer through ACSM, NASM, afm, and ACE.
Disclaimer: Some of the recommendations in this post may not be suitable for everyone. Always consult your health care provider prior to starting any diet or fitness routine.