Being a man does NOT mean you should embrace that big potbelly.
It’s a marker for poor health and bad things to come. And if something isn’t done about it, your potbelly will just get bigger and bigger.
Now I don’t mean it will eventually stick eight feet out, but if it’s “not that big” now, that potbelly you sport will surely grow in size in the next five to 10 years.
Potbellies do not have to come with middle age.
When I was a personal trainer I had explained the following at fitness seminars held at the health club:
Potbellies result from a combination of not enough muscle mass and more calories eaten than burned.
Men with big potbellies rarely, and I mean rarely rarely rarely, have a developed musculature.
You need not look like a competitive bodybuilder to get rid of the big gut.
You can have a lot of muscle built up—but in compact form rather than “swelled up” form.
Muscles are calorie burning machines. The more muscle you have, the less likely calories (fat) will be stored in your stomach.
As men age (approach middle age), they lose precious muscle mass—UNLESS they strength train—and seriously at that.
No, I don’t mean two hours a day at the gym. Three hours a WEEK will do just fine.
If you have muscle built up in your back, shoulders, legs, chest and arms, this muscle will need lots of energy (calories) to be sustained.
There won’t be too many calories left over to get stored in your middle.
Of course, this all assumes you have a sensible diet, one that supports your strength training, rather than the typical junk food fare and oversized portions.
If you lack sufficient muscle mass, excess food will be driven straight to your gut for storage.
With enough muscle, that same amount of food will look a lot different on you because some of the calories will be going towards muscle sustenance.
How a Middle Age Man Can Bust His Potbelly Safely
• Focus workouts on the legs and back. These are the largest muscle groups and hence, need the most energy (calories) for growth and sustenance.
• Stop spending so much time on isolation exercises (sit-ups, crunches, biceps curls). These work small muscle groups and only single joints at a time, requiring lower amounts of energy (calories).
• Abandon the idea that tons of crunches and sit-ups will slash the fat in your stomach. Won’t happen.
• Searing workouts focusing on the legs and back will drive your body into an energy deficit. Incoming calories will be directed to muscle recovery, not stomach storage.
• Secondary to leg and back routines are chest routines. This is another major muscle group that, when kicked hard in the gym, will gobble up calories.
• STOP HOLDING ONTO THE TREADMILL. I can’t begin to tell you how many middle aged men with potbellies I see holding onto the treadmill. This is make-believe walking and won’t do anything for fat loss.
Specific Exercises for Middle Aged Men to Lose the Potbelly
• Deadlift. Works virtually every muscle at once, a giant calorie burner. I have yet to see a man with a potbelly, non-muscular arms and scrawny legs, deadlifting over 100 pounds.
Every man I’ve ever seen deadlifting 225 pounds had little to no potbelly. Be attentive to form.
• Back Squat. Give this a try; this exercise will be ideal for building compact muscle in your legs. Hone perfect form.
• Pulling (lat pull-down, bent-over dumbbell row, seated row). Correct form is key.
• Leg press. Make your legs burn.
• Bench press and dumbbell press. Just do it.
• Standing overhead barbell press.
• If available at your gym, do tire flips and sled work.
Stop using middle age as an excuse for your growing potbelly.
So how you look may not be important to you; maybe in your mind, it’s “what’s inside that counts.”
And you are right! What’s inside that blubbery tummy is excess fat that’s suffocating your organs and heart!
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.