Although summer is coming to an end and you won’t be able to show off your muscle at the beach until next year, physical fitness should be a goal for every man out there. Moreover, you shouldn’t just be getting in shape so that you look good. You should be getting in shape, year in and year out, in order to reap the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of being fit. With that said, here are the top workouts that every man needs to add to his weekly routine.
Not only will these boost your appeal with the ladies, but they’ll also boost your performance at the office, at home, and out with the boys. For the fast track to becoming a better man, read on.
The humble pushup has recently been re-invented as the ultimate exercise. Not only does it help develop strength, but it also helps with balance, coordination, endurance, and utilizing the lesser-used support muscles in your back and shoulders. In other words, the pushup excels at everything that modern exercise science is deeming important. It’s fair to say that this exercise is enjoying a bit of a renaissance. Michael Clark, C.S.C.S., a physical therapist and president of the National Academy of Sports Medicine, has this to add:
If you do push-ups correctly, you develop your scapular muscles and your rotator-cuff muscles to stabilize your shoulders. If you do bench presses instead of push-ups, you don’t have to use those muscles as much.
So how do you work pushups into your routine? That depends on exactly what you’re looking for. One of my personal favorite methods is to take a quick break from the weights mid-workout and pack as many pushups into 10 minutes as you possibly can. This will work your muscles past fatigue several times over, and will allow you to get your heart rate back up for the remainder of your workout in addition to building you a stronger and more resilient chest and arms.
Pull-ups never really went out of vogue – they’ve been a mainstay for military workouts all along. But its time to start using them more heavily in your workouts. Due to the lifestyle of the average American male, the back is particularly prone to injury. We spend all day sitting in front of a desk, and then the majority of our off-hours sitting in front of something else, either a computer or a TV. Which puts a lot of undue strain on the back. Fortunately, the pull-up is an injury proof way to build stronger arms, back, and shoulders, which can’t be said for many of the activities you do in a given day. But don’t just take my word for it. Kevin Rail at Livestrong.com describes the exercise as such:
Multijoint, or compound, exercises require you to use more than one muscle group and more than one joint when you perform them. These types of exercises recruit a maximal amount of muscle fibers and they can help you gain mass efficiently. Pull-ups are one of these exercises and they recruit… the back, shoulders, chest and arms.
It is 2013. Forget what you learned when you were a kid. Cut out your twice-a-week jog and start swimming instead. Although finding a gym with a pool is a bit more work than finding a street to run on, it is more than worth it. Swimming not only improves your cardio, but it also builds muscle, balance, and coordination while fighting chronic illnesses. According to the British National Health Service, the benefits of swimming are as follows:
Regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control. Swimming is a lifelong skill that could save a life. If you can’t swim, it’s never too late to learn.
However, even that glowing recommendation only begins to scratch the surface of this excellent activity. Swimming walks that fine line between aerobic and anaerobic which more and more experts are recommending as the ultimate form of exercise. So, on the on hand, you can swim for 30-60 minutes no problem, and keep your heart rate and breathing rate elevated throughout. But at the same time, you’re also building muscle strength due to the high resistance of the water. And more of all, you’re developing core strength and balance, which we know you can never truly have enough of.
You need look no further than the bodies wielded by Olympic swimmers to know that this exercise should be the cornerstone of every man’s workout.
Whatever You Want
Okay, sorry about this. It’s a bit of a cop-out as far as recommendations go. But I really mean it. The key to long-term fitness is finding some activity that you like and you are good at, and then doing it every day. No matter how many articles you read that espouse the benefits of going to the gym 3 times per week, you are not likely to keep going to the gym from here until the time you’re 80 unless you’re already a professional bodybuilder. This is because, for most of us, going to the gym is a chore that sometimes must take back seat to work, life, family, or fun. As Roger Lawson at Lifehacker explains it:
Whatever you do, enjoy it. Choose something rewarding enough to make you feel good about doing it. If you’re having a good time, Roger noted, mistakes feel like learning experiences and challenges to be overcome, not throw-up-your-hands-and-give-up moments.
The key to overcoming this difficulty, and to thus getting physical activity, is finding a sport that coincides with the activities that normally disrupt fitness. If you can find a sport that you enjoy and that you play with your friends, it is unlikely to get disrupted for social events or because you don’t feel like doing it. Likewise, if you can find a sport to play with your wife or girlfriend, you’re not going to need to drop it in order to spend time with her. Double up where you can, and you’ll find it that much easier to keep your fitness up.