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 Importance of Building Abs After 40

Abs are more than just aesthetics. A six-pack signifies fitness, but core strength is important for posture, balance, stability, injury prevention, and power. And if you want abs after 40, you’ll want to focus on the basics—nutrition, sleep, stress, and exercise.

Building Abs As You Age: Why It’s Important and Why You Should Do It

Quick look:

  • Core strength is important for many aspects of health, from posture and balance to injury prevention and pain reduction
  • Crunches aren’t the only way to build core strength—ground and standing exercises can target the muscles in your core equally as well
  • Proper nutrition, adequate sleep, stress management, and ab-targeted workouts are key to building abs as you age

The Importance of Core Strength

When you think about core strength, crunches are probably the first thing that comes to mind. But abs and core strength are more than just aesthetics—it’s essential for daily functioning and injury prevention, especially as you age. 

Your core is the center of every movement, which means building and maintaining a strong and healthy core contributes to a healthy lifestyle and aging. 

For men over 40, building abs and core strength are even more important but also more difficult. Hormone imbalances that naturally come with aging make it difficult for men to build and maintain muscle mass, but it’s not impossible.

So, why do we need core strength?

  1. Supports better posture: Your abs are more than just the six-pack at the front of your body—the core muscles wrap around your entire torso and attach to your spine. Strong core muscles help maintain an upright posture and prevent wear and tear on your spine; weak core muscles primarily contribute to poor posture or slouching. A strong core can also help prevent neck and back pain from hunching forward all day.
  2. Improves balance and stability: Balance and stability are two factors of fitness that most people neglect, but it becomes increasingly more important with age. Whether walking or working out, a solid base is needed to keep you upright and prevent falling—a strong core is the center of that.
  3. Increases functionality: Ever wonder why things become more challenging as you age? A stronger core makes everyday movements easier to execute. This is why many core movements are considered “functional fitness.”
  4. Reduces pain: Wear and tear on the body are inevitable with aging, but the pain is not. A strong core helps support your lower back and strengthen your spine, thereby lessening the pain you experience.
  5. Improves strength training: A strong core sets the stage for a successful training program and can help you lift more, as heavy lifts require a great deal of core strength and stability to execute movements correctly.

That said, building abs after 40 isn’t about pounding out crunches—it’s about following a lifestyle that supports muscle building and fat loss.

abs after 40

The 4 Pillars of Building Abs After 40

  1. Nutrition

If you want to build abs after 40, nutrition is key. You can do as many ab workouts as you want, but you’ll never have a six-pack if you don’t lose the layer of fat that covers your core. But that doesn’t mean you have to cut calories left, right, and center—it’s about choosing foods that support your goals. That means targeting your macros to ensure you’re consuming everything you need to build abs at each meal:

  • Protein
  • Complex carbohydrates
  • Healthy fats
  • Fruits/vegetables

Protein is the cornerstone of building muscles; healthy fats are the foundation of hormone production; complex carbohydrates are your energy powerhouse; and fruits and vegetables are the micronutrients that support every function in the body. They all work together to build muscle, burn fat, and get shredded.

  1. Sleep

You might not think about sleep for abs, but building muscle relies on sufficient sleep for two reasons: hormone release and muscle repair. During sleep, your body releases growth hormone, an important muscle growth factor. Lack of sleep can also affect testosterone levels needed to support muscle growth—just one week of sleep restriction can tank testosterone levels and stunt muscle building. Sleep restriction can also impair muscle recovery, so it’s important to ensure you get a minimum of 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night if you want to build abs as you age.

  1. Reduce stress

Acutely high-stress levels might not be the death of your abs, but chronically high-stress levels can wreak havoc on muscle growth, thanks to high circulating cortisol levels, a catabolic stress hormone.

There’s also something called “stress belly.” That’s right—high-stress levels can cause you to gain belly fat, directly impairing your ability to get abs after 40. Several studies have shown that chronically elevated cortisol levels are strongly related to abdominal obesity.

So, how do you keep stress levels low? Find ways of reducing stress you enjoy—walking in nature, deep breathing, journaling, working out, meditation… There are endless ways to support cortisol reduction and minimize stress. And bonus, lower stress levels also mean better sleep, so you’re getting a real bang for your buck.

  1. Metabolic abs workouts

The last piece of the ab-building puzzle is choosing the right workouts. While you may think you can crunch your way to abs after 40, you’ll have to do millions of crunches to get there (and probably endure a lot of lower back pain). Instead, try exercises that torch calories and hit your core from every angle. Your ab workouts aim to light your core on fire and keep the calorie burn going after you’ve stopped training. That way, you’re melting fat and burning calories to expose the muscle layer. 

Here’s an ab workout that will ignite the burn and torch fat from your midsection to help sculpt your six-pack.

10-Minute Tabata Abs Extreme Workout

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds rest for 4 rounds, then move on to the following exercise.

  1. Abs Buzzsaw x 4 (dynamic plank)
  2. Knee Slide Crunches x 4 (upper abs strength)
  3. Dead Bug Variations x 4 (core—anti-rotation)
  4. Alternating Abs V-ups x 4 (lower abs)
  5. Extreme Russian Twists x 4 (rotation)


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