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To Shrink Belly Fat, Avoid These Exercise Habits After 50

Ditch and fix these bad habits that are holding you back from results.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Let's chat about something incredibly frustrating, yet so relatable. One of the most difficult fitness goals to achieve when you're 50 and above is losing belly fat. This is because as you age, your body experiences hormonal changes, such as a decrease in testosterone, estrogen, or growth hormone. Not only that, but your metabolism decreases, and you lose lean muscle mass if you aren't proactive. Many become more sedentary as they grow older, too, due to fewer obligations or not maintaining healthy habits. If you're in this age group and want to shrink belly fat, we have some useful tips and tricks for you to start following ASAP.

First off, it's major to focus on three key areas: eating a healthy diet while at a calorie deficit, strength training regularly, and getting in aerobic exercise. When you do these habits consistently, your belly fat will shrink, and you'll reach your desired workout goals. But if you're already eating well, exercising regularly, and not seeing results, you may be making some common fitness errors.

Don't stress, because we're going to discuss these exercise mistakes people make, and exactly how to address them. Read on to learn more, and next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

You're not prioritizing strength training

group doing strength training workout outside to shrink belly fat

Although cardio is key for your heart health, improving your aerobic fitness, and burning calories, it shouldn't be the sole form of exercise you're focusing on. If your goal is to shrink belly fat and get into shape, you have to incorporate and prioritize strength training. Strength exercises help build muscle, elevate your metabolism, and get you toned quicker than if you were just doing cardio. This is because strength training increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)—it's the after-burn effect of your body requiring more oxygen to get back to baseline. This will make your body burn more calories.

Related: The 4 Most Effective Exercises To Shrink Your Waistline After 60

You're only performing steady-state cardio and not incorporating interval work

man running in central park to improve his gut health

Furthermore, when it comes to cardio, switch things up! It's important to get in regular steady-state work for at least 30 minutes. However, you should also mix in interval work, or go at a higher intensity.

If you're constantly performing the same cardio exercises at the same duration and intensity, your body adapts to it. This will make you burn fewer calories doing the same amount of work over time, and it will make your fat loss journey much more difficult. Not only that, but as you grow older, you lose anaerobic power and performance, so it would be smart to sprinkle intervals into your cardio routine.

If you're doing steady-state cardio 2 to 3 times per week, swap out one of those sessions for a 15 to 20-minute HIIT workout.

Related: Shrink Belly Fat Faster In Your 40s With These Free Weight Exercises, Trainer Says

You're not strength training properly

man working out with dumbbells at home in bright room

If you're doing strength training already, that's awesome! Just make absolutely sure you're choosing the right exercises and the proper amount of sets/reps.

When it comes to selecting exercises, a majority of your workouts should compose of compound movements. These recruit more muscle fibers and will help you burn even more calories than if you focused on single-joint movements such as curls, triceps, and lateral raises. Make sure you're performing variations of the squat, hinge, presses, and pulls in your routine.

There's also a common fitness myth that lifting heavy is great for bulking up, and if you're trying to lose fat, you need to switch to higher rep work to tone the muscle and lean out. To the contrary, depending on your exercises, you need a combination of both lower and higher rep work. No matter the number of reps you may be doing, choose a weight that will be challenging throughout the entire set.

You're doing endless sets of crunches

woman doing crunches at home on a yoga mat to shrink belly fat

Another bad exercise habit to quit ASAP is performing a ton of crunches, situps, and side bends in hopes of shrinking belly fat. Even though you might get a good burn and it feels like you're toning your stomach, doing ab exercises alone won't help you shrink belly fat.

In addition, you don't need to perform a ton of different ab exercises and high reps with each training session. One to 2 ab exercises should do the trick.

When it comes down to it, if you don't nail your eating habits and remain active with your cardio and strength work, you won't lose that excess fat. Focus on nailing your nutrition and workouts, and the belly fat will begin to shrink.

Tim Liu, C.S.C.S.
Tim Liu, CSCS, is an online fitness and nutrition coach based in Los Angeles Read more about Tim
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