With the emphasis on the “gym grind” and Marvel superhero physiques, it’s near impossible not to get wrapped up in the male fitness world. These tips and tricks will ensure a safe and effective workout routine, both inside and outside of the gym. These also apply to everyone, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a bodybuilder.
Don’t focus on one specific body part
The phrase of “don’t skip leg” day is both a hilarious and true one — sometimes you’ll see men with giant upper bodies but scrawny chicken legs. Male body standards emphasize a “Dorito” shape, or an upside down triangle, where the chest is broad and then narrows into a smaller torso. Because of this, some men only work on their biceps, back, and chest, without paying attention to other muscle groups.
Although getting a defined back and arms is great, a total body workout is ideal. That way you can work on multiple target areas at once, saving you both time and effort! A few key total body movements are squat and overhead press, lunge and fly, kettlebell swings, and burpees.
If you have a specific goal, the majority of your routine can be focused on it. However, consider working on that goal every other workout, or interchange those target moves with other ones. For instance, if you want to build up your biceps and triceps, do curls and presses on some days or have squats mixed in with that routine.
Mix it up
The male fitness world stresses strength training. Cardiovascular activity, often shortened and known as “cardio,” is seen as strictly for women. These are just general biases, since both forms of exercise have benefits regardless of gender.
The scope of cardio goes beyond the treadmill and stationary bicycle at the gym. It’s easy to hop on to one of them after a weight-training session, but it’s good to get out your comfort zone. Try Zumba, kickboxing, or jump-rope to get your heart pumping. If you want something less intense, try Pilates, barre, or yoga.
See if your gym offers fitness classes. Usually a first trial class won’t cost anything. If you’re the only man in the room, shrug it off, because everyone is there to improve their health and have fun.
Care for Your Equipment
This may sound like common sense, but large and heavy equipment poses safety hazards. Never slam down weights — it is dangerous all-around. Not only is it obnoxious, but you might not know where you’re looking and slam a plate on someone’s foot. If you find yourself struggling, choose a lighter set of weights. There is no shame — you will eventually work your way up to the heavier set!
Furthermore, place weights back in their racks, and not on the floor where someone can trip over them. Clean weights, machines, and benches with anti-bacterial wipes when you’re finished working out. No one wants to use dirty or sweaty equipment, and this reduces the chance of sickness spreading in public gyms.
Fitness on the Go
Vacation can pose a detrimental weakness to a fitness regimen. Factor that in with good food and margaritas — you know what happens. Most hotels and resorts have a gym, but you don’t necessarily need a gym to stay on track.
Speaking of track, see if there is a jogging track (believe it or not, cruise ships have them!) or create your own route. Make sure your route isn’t a safety hazard to workers or any other vacation-goers. Running, jogging, or even walking is free, requires no equipment, and is a lot more scenic than a treadmill for sure!
If your vacation spot has Wi-Fi, there are dozens of work-out videos online. Use your laptop or phone to search on YouTube. Some recommended channels for men are HasFit, DailyBurn, and FitnessBlender. You can tailor your options too, such as silent, no-equipment workouts for the hotel room.
Remember to Include Nutrition
Many fitness gurus say: “Abs are made in the kitchen.” Honestly, this mantra applies to the entire body. You can be hitting it hard at the gym every single day, but if you don’t have a nutritional and balanced diet, there’s no payoff.
Take note of what you’re eating, regardless you want to manage your calories, macronutrients, protein intake, etc. Use an app like MyFitnessPal or keep a food journal. Don’t forget to eat before and after your workout. Your body needs fuel to get moving, and then needs more to replenish the muscles you worked!
Whatever your fitness goal may be — losing weight, getting lean, gaining muscle — nutrition is key. It goes hand and hand with fitness. You need to focus on both the gym and the kitchen if you want to see success and results.
Stretch and Rest
Even though they are essential to a safe and balanced fitness routine, stretching and resting sadly go overlooked. If you don’t stretch, there is a higher risk for injury during exercise. If you don’t rest, your body won’t have time to heal itself, also leading to injury plus fatigue.
It is absolutely necessary to stretch before and after your workout. After your warm-up, perform a few stretches to help get your muscles ready. When you’re finished, hold those stretches for longer to slow your heart rate and cool down. You will feel refreshed, and your body will thank you. Rest days are okay — don’t feel ashamed for taking them. In fact, rest is on the same level of importance as exercise because it actually assists in building strength, endurance, and muscle. Taking rest days gives your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild, since training your muscles can cause a bit of tearing.
Always listen to your body. Just like you go eat when your stomach growls, you must listen to its cues before you step foot in the gym. If your legs feel like lead, maybe you don’t want to do that leg work out today. If you wake up with the flu, your body needs a day in bed.
Perhaps you knew some of these tips, but perhaps you learned something new as well. Be sure to keep these simple tips in mind for optimal safety, fitness, and health.