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Six Pack Abs after 50: a Smart Fitness Goal?

Functional training exercises like this Hip-hinged split-stance prybar row train solid body mechanics from whole-core engagement to proper head and foot positioning

“If you’re over 50 and you want six pack abs… You probably need a different fitness goal.”    -Adam Fawcett                      

Don’t get me wrong- it is abs-olutely possible after 50 to have ripped abs, chiseled chest, shoulders and arms. This can feel great and even be quite healthy. I have helped many 50-something+ men and women to attain these things.

It’s just that it’s not a practical, FIRST functional fitness goal.  Injury and pain prevention need to come first. Basic body awareness and control need to come first. These are Functional Strength and Movement Training(FST) principles, and Functional Strength comes first in all of the training that we do at Vibrant Fitness (to get more understanding of FST, check out my previous blog post on that subject HERE).

Functional Strength and Movement Training(FST):  The leading edge in the evolution of strength training

I have always said “vanity goals are totally legitimate”.   Several studies have found that looking better is the leading reason that people work out consistently.

And I support most anything that will get people to work out.

But your strength training workouts should aim first at function.  It is SO important to FIRST train core/spine and joint stability, proper body alignment and positioning(what used to be called “good form”)

Functional strength training, will make you look better. Ask any of our regular clients. Or watch your own body change after joining a good FST program. You will see some or all of these appearance changes:

  • your posture will improve
  • your balance, gait, and carriage will improve
  • you may lose weight, and even better, waist
  • your arms and chest will get visibly stronger
  • you will look sexier in a tight T-shirt

I love these results, in myself and in my clients.  It feels good to look good!

Functional strength training will produce a strong and well-defined physique at 55 and beyond.

So, back to the question of six-pack abs as a smart fitness goal….Hollywood abs can be great for you, AFTER you have mastered some basic FST.

 Six pack abs, in technical terms, come from having a well-developed rectus abdominis(the best-known of several abs muscles), very low body-fat%, and the right lighting.  But before we go after that in FST, you must become proficient at core control, and demonstrate skill at things like this:

  • locate and learn to fire(voluntarily contract) and develop your other important core muscles
  • stabilize your spine and pelvis(and your hips and shoulders)
  • ability to squat, lift, push, etc. while maintaining safe spine position
  • begun to improve you posture, breathing, balance
  • hold a well-aligned plank position(basic and side-plank) with some endurance

THEN you can feel safe and confident enough to push the bigger weights, and rock the muscle-burning exercises that will build up your six-pack rectus and other vanity muscles, withOUT casing back pain, injury, or postural problems.

FST is really first about safe and skilled use of your body as it acts upon the world.  So a well-designed FST program will make you look better, as you learn to move better!  You will learn and practice good body mechanics, as you mobilize your spine and joints, and strengthen and care for all of your important injury prevention muscles. This leads to functional strength outcomes, like:

  • prevention of back pain and injury
  • prevention of sprains, strains and falls
  • hips, shoulders, and every joint, moving better!
  • increased muscle mass
  • improved metabolism
  • improved mental clarity and cognitive ability

Stable joints and good movement patterns are way more important to a rich and active life than six-pack abs

You train to live with balance, alignment, and stability as you move. You find purpose and pleasure in movement itself as you squat, hinge, push, lift, pull, and get up and down from a bench or the ground(in the gym, and in your world) You live in greater contact with the positioning and power of your spine, hips, shoulders and limbs, as you watch your amazing human body to get stronger and leaner, safer and sexier. You learn how to fix some of your own pains and niggles.

You live more deeply and gracefully in your body and in the world.

Weather you end up with six-pack abs or not, adding Functional Strength and Movement Training(FST) to your life is a fascinating and empowering process!