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7 Best Strength Exercises for Men to Melt "Middle-Aged Spread" Belly Fat

Shrink your waistline and build muscle with these expert moves.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you've reached middle age and are carrying some extra cushion around your midsection (like many other individuals), this article is for you. We spoke with TJ Mentus, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Garage Gym Reviews, who shares the seven best strength exercises for men to melt the middle-aged spread. Say goodbye to stubborn belly fat and hello to a toned, lean body.

After 40, it's no secret that your body goes through changes. Your metabolism slows down, your hormones change, your skin loses elasticity, and your muscle mass declines. It's no wonder so many men pack on extra pounds. Not to mention, demanding work schedules and familial responsibilities can cause many middle-aged men to become less physically active and not eat as healthy as they should.

According to Longevity, a survey conducted by Forza Supplements found that 36% of men report gaining the most weight in their lives between 40 and 45—right at the onset of middle age. Fortunately, incorporating these strength exercises into your workout routine can help melt away belly fat for good. It's never too late to transform your physique and start building the body you want. The following moves use a variety of free weights, kettlebells, dumbbells, and cable machines to deliver a killer full-body workout. However, you don't need to be a fitness expert to master these moves.

Keep reading to learn all about the best strength exercises for men to melt the middle-aged spread, then check out The #1 Strength Workout To Slim Down a Thick Waist in 30 Days.

Kettlebell Swings

fit man doing kettlebell swings, concept of daily strength exercises for men to lose weight

The kettlebell swing is an explosive full-body exercise that targets your core, glutes, and shoulders, making them an excellent addition to any fat-burning workout.

"Kettlebell swings can be done at a high intensity while building power and strength through the posterior chain and core," Mentus explains. "The core stays braced while the legs and hips provide the power and force to swing the kettlebell making this a full-body movement. As you perform multiple sets with short rests, you'll find the heart rate elevated quickly, which will help to burn fat and calories faster."

Perform four sets of 15 to 20 swings.

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Back Squats

barbell back squat illustration

This traditional compound movement will blast your quads, hamstrings, and glutes to boost muscle growth and promote fat loss.

"For building muscle and strength, the back squat is one of the best exercises you can do," says Mentus. "Gaining muscle size in the legs will help prevent and get rid of belly fat because muscle helps to improve metabolism by using more calories for fuel. Additionally, heavy back squats will help to increase testosterone in men due to how taxing they are on the whole body and nervous system. Higher testosterone levels increase fat loss and lean muscle tissue."

Do three to five sets of eight to 12 reps.

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illustration of barbell deadlifts

Another staple compound lift, deadlifts are an ultimate full-body strength exercise to help obliterate that middle-aged spread.

"In addition to building up strength and muscle in the lower body, deadlifts will also help increase muscle in the upper back," says Mentus. "Deadlifts have also been shown to help increase testosterone. When done correctly, you'll feel the whole body being taxed."

Aim for four sets of 10 to 12 reps.


dumbbell squat to press thrusters

Thrusters combine a squat and shoulder press to engage two major muscle groups, making it an effective calorie-burning exercise.

"Thrusters are another high-intensity exercise. When done for many reps, it will quickly jack up the heart rate and fatigue the muscles. Squatting in a thruster with the bar in front places a higher demand on the core, helping to strengthen the midsection. Shoulders, legs, and core will all be worked in one movement while burning calories at an increased rate due to the elevated heart rate," says Mentus.

Perform four sets of 12 to 15 reps.

The Best Core Workouts for Flatter Abs After 40


man performing split squats lunges exercises to slow muscle aging

Lunges are your secret weapon for a slimmer waistline. While engaging your core, this versatile lower body movement targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

"Lunges are one of the best exercises for conditioning the legs. They build strength and endurance in the lower body. Try performing walking lunges for longer distances, and you will see that they can get you significantly out of breath in a short period," says Mentus.

Perform four sets of 15 to 20 reps per leg.

Cable Rotations

cable core rotation

This rotational movement strengthens your core, adding serious definition to your abdominal area.

"This exercise directly hits that midsection," says Mentus. "The oblique muscles (side abs) help to rotate the torso. Performing rotations with a cable keeps constant tension on these muscles, helping to strengthen them and build muscle and definition through the abdominals."

Do four sets of 15 to 20 reps per side.

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Sled Pushes

sled push illustration exercise

These strength exercises for men to melt the middle-aged spread wrap up with the sled push. Sled pushes are a surefire to jack up your heart rate and increase calorie burn (while helping build muscle). They require all you've got to push a weighted sled as you engage your entire body.

"Pushing a heavy sled requires strength and power in the legs and hips. It places constant tension throughout the body to keep the sled moving which fatigues the muscles and increases the heart rate helping to burn fat," says Mentus.

Aim for five rounds of 10 to 25-yard pushes.

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam