I look at the picture below on a regular basis. It provides me with strong motivation and a sense of accomplishment to know how far I have come. Just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you have to let your body go. Each of us has complete control over how we look and feel. Most people dread getting older, but not me! I’m looking forward to seeing how much progress I can make as I get older. I’m looking forward to the future and beyond. I dreaded hitting 50, but I’m actually looking forward to turning 60!
Most fitness enthusiasts are fixated with abdominals. Who better to tell you how to get a 6-pack washboard stomach than a 58-year-old bodybuilder. 8 years ago at the age of 50, I had a “beer belly” and I never thought it was possible to achieve a lean stomach at my age. I first showcased my impressive abs at the 2011 Musclemania North American Bodybuilding Championships in Las Vegas, where I finished in first place! I think I stepped on stage that night at 168 pounds. For several years, I became fixated at getting bigger which took away that “shredded” look to my abs. I had to compromise and I decided that I would become bigger, but I needed to maintain defined abdominals as well. That was the only way I could separate myself from the bigger competitors and I could influence the judges when they noticed my impressive symmetry. This past November, at the Las Vegas Classic, I came on stage at 178 pounds and my abs looked unbelievable! I did it, and now I’m going to share my secret with you.
Before I go any further, I’m going to share another secret with you. I don’t maintain that shredded 6-pack abs look all year long. Yes, I can visibly see them (as in the picture below) but they are not “contest shape” year-round. I will stay in this condition until about 12 weeks from my next bodybuilding show in Venice, California at the Muscle Beach Classic on May 29, 2017. Living with perfect contest-ready abs is actually not very healthy. Most of the fitness magazine cover models and top bodybuilders do not look like their magazine pictures year-round either. Before photo shoots and bodybuilding competitions, we lose a solid 5 pounds of water from our bodies in order to really bring out the abs and to maximize muscle definition. Trust me, this is no fun and can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Besides the “look” of having ultra ripped 6-pack abs, you might be causing issues with your spinal column and overall back health. Building muscle around the spine helps to support the back and prevent injury.
Tips To Get Abs and a Lean Stomach Over 40
First off, achieving an impressive midsection isn’t something you will see overnight. It takes me about 12 weeks for me to get my abs “contest-ready”. So, how long it takes will depend on how much body fat you currently have covering them. Also, if you’re not already in excellent physical condition, the first thing you need to do is get yourself in excellent physical condition!
You need to understand that obtaining 6-pack abs is difficult and it takes a lot of hard work. If it was easy, everyone in the gym would have a shredded stomach. However, that’s definitely not the case! If you’re a beginner and you are currently overweight, it’s going to take some time. The crash course in cutting weight is not recommended. Obviously, your diet plan and workout routine are the keys to success, but to achieve your goal of getting 6-pack abs and maintaining them, you’ll need to be able to consistently follow a clean diet and workout regimen. There are a lot of people who take their diets and workouts to an extreme just to get ripped abs for a competition and then it all slips away quickly because they cannot sustain their strict routine. I personally don’t have to starve myself to maintain my abs. When you do first see your abs popping out, you’ll never want to lose that look either!
Your Nutrition Plan
Let’s start off with the diet since this part is the most critical to getting a lean stomach. For most people, a considerable amount of body fat will need to be reduced in order to visibly see their abdominals. I’m not going to share my own personal nutritional plan and I don’t recommend purchasing someone else’s diet plan either. This can be a big waste of time and money. Genetically, we are all different. We are also all at different levels of conditioning. Remember, as you improve your conditioning, your metabolism will increase and the more calories your body will burn. After you lose body fat, you’ll probably need to eat more in order to build lean muscle mass along with having sufficient energy to get through high intensity workouts.
Diet Tips To Get 6-Pack Abs:
- Eat more frequently throughout the day.
- Watch your portion sizes.
- Avoid fast food.
- Limit carbs and cut back on pasta, bread (substitute brown rice and quinoa).
- Avoid refined sugars, sodas, cookies and candy.
- Eat natural sugar from fruit which is much easier for your body to process.
- Eat lots of green vegetables and salads.
- Keep meat portions to 6-8 ounces. Choose lean proteins like fish, chicken, turkey, eggs.
Just like your workouts, your diet will need to be adjusted over time as you increase your physical activity and eliminate unhealthy body fat from your physique. Starvation diets are never needed to accomplish this. Educate yourself on nutrition and get creative with preparing your meals. There are a lot of healthy recipes here on ShapeFit. Be smart about the restaurants you eat out at, as well as your meal planning and meal preparation. It’s not uncommon for me to prepare a large amount of grilled chicken for up to 3 days or cook up a lot of brown rice and vegetables for future meals. If you need to eat out, choose healthy restaurants that let you substitute menu items for healthier options.
You are definitely going to have to do a significant amount of cardio if you want to see those 6-pack abs! How much depends on how much body fat you currently have along with your conditioning. The basic rule for middle-aged people is to perform between 20-30 minutes of cardio several times per week. Here are some cardio tips for losing body fat:
- During my off-season, I only do 20 minutes of cardio only because I’m trying to build muscle. The more cardio you do, the more muscle you will burn off.
- 12 weeks out from a show I will increase my cardio to 30 minutes.
- 8 weeks out, I increase my cardio to 35 minutes.
- 6 weeks out, I increase my cardio to 40 minutes.
- 4 weeks out, I increase my cardio to 45 minutes.
- 2 weeks out, I decrease my cardio down to 30 minutes.
- 1 week out, I decrease my cardio down to 15 minutes.
Weight Lifting Workouts
I always try to workout at a fast pace and keep moving between my weightlifting sets. Each workout is pre-planned and I try to perform my strength training exercises close to my core movements which I will perform in-between weightlifting sets. I do 8-10 different core exercises every time I workout. There is absolutely no rest during my 1 hour weightlifting workout. I usually do 2-4 sets of each exercise. I will make note of each specific core exercise I perform.
I think it’s important to discuss the value of building lean muscle when it comes to achieving 6-pack abs and overall physique symmetry. Lean muscle tissue will help speed up your metabolism. Remember, for every 10 pounds of muscle you gain, it will burn an additional 500 calories per day, even at rest.
I know a lot of people who tell me that they want to lose weight and aren’t worried about building lean muscle. This is not the ideal mindset! The primary focus needs to be on building muscle mass with weight training workouts. Lean muscle is a lot more attractive than ugly, flabby body fat!
Workouts need to be well-rounded and hit all of the major muscle groups including the legs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps. I guarantee that I burn more calories during my weightlifting workout than I do with my cardio workout. It’s also important to give your muscles enough time to rest after a workout. I will not train a body part again until I get 4 days of rest from the last time I worked that body part. Sometimes, I give myself 5 days of rest, depending on how I feel. Rest equals recovery which results in gains!
There is no perfect formula to developing a washboard stomach with ripped 6-pack abs. Plan on tweaking your workout and diet plan along the way. Remember to avoid all starvation diets since they are not necessary and will cause serious issues in the long run. If you can’t consistently maintain your workout routine and diet plan over the long haul, you won’t be able to maintain the look you want!