Men – It’s Time to Get Real about Your Fitness

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I’m a guy. I don’t ask for directions and I think I know how to fix everything and if I truly don’t know how to fix something, I’m going to pretend I do (without looking at the instruction manual). Sometimes I will have a couple too many beers and get so loud watching football it scares my 11 week old baby and gets my wife angry. Sometimes I don’t put the toilet seat down out of sheer laziness, and I still want a good reason as to why women aren’t expected to put the toilet seat up after they are done using the toilet. This article here is written for men. It is written for the typical man who thinks they have all their fitness, lifting, and nutrition all figured out because they read Men’s Health and Muscle and Fitness last month, from cover-to-cover, and do the bench press and some curls twice a week. Well, I’m here to tell you after being borderline obsessed with muscle, strength, power, lifting, and nutrition for the majority of my life, that I can assure you, no, you do not have it all figured out when it comes to your health.

I know I’m randomly calling out men everywhere right now, I get it. But I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science, a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, have trained around 1,000 people over the last 15 years of my life, and do fitness as my career, hobby, and passion. With this being said, I am very willing to admit I do not have it all figured out. In fact, almost every day I learn something new about the human body, or a certain exercise, or a certain training philosophy. I am still learning and tweaking things as I go along in fitness. I have made one of my life’s missions to be the best trainer and strength coach I can possibly be. As a result, I feel I have the responsibility to tell you, sir, you do not know as much as you think you do about how to get in shape.

Men, it’s time to admit you need help with your fitness and health. You may have some knowledge about how to change the oil in your car, but you probably still go to Jiffy Lube or a different place that changes oil, don’t you? You most likely know how to crack an egg and scramble it up, but that doesn’t make you a good cook, does it? Likewise, just because you can bench press 225 for one sloppy rep and wear a cut off shirt to the gym, does not mean you are really doing things efficiently, productively, and safely. And most likely you are ignoring some of the most important things for your health that will ultimately and finally get you the body you really want to have (even though you won’t admit you want that). Why not just accept that you need help? You really don’t have your fitness all figured out, and that’s ok! I’m here to help.

First, guys, you have to be honest with yourself. You must take a look at your fitness routine, or lack thereof, and be brutally honest about your habits. Strength training and muscle-building are great tools. But, at the same time, there are many, many other facets of physical fitness that must not be ignored. Your overall health suffers when important facets of physical fitness are ignored. Do you take care of your conditioning? How about your flexibility and joint mobility? What is your waistline like these days? What about a tight back or banged up shoulders? Do you have your bases covered with your nutrition? And do you know how to lay all of this out into a system of training that is both productive, efficient, and individualistic to you?

Men, I am not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I’m just here to say that what it takes to get truly fit and own your fitness requires you to never ignore one aspect of fitness at the expense of something else. For example, if you lift hard on nothing but upper body with some benching, some curls, and some shoulder presses but you blatantly avoid pull ups or rows to balance the upper body out, you will most likely end up really messing up your shoulders from tight internal rotators. Likewise, do you balance upper body training with lower body training to really create that full, powerful, athletic physique that you truly desire? Or are your hips, knees, and ankles so tight that a proper squat is out of the question? Let alone a properly loaded barbell back squat past parallel to the floor.

When was the last time you thought about really improving your stretching or joint range-of-motion? Arthritis later in life is a result of years of reduced joint range-of-motion. What are you doing to maintain perfect body posture and a graceful, loose, pliable body? Remember, if you don’t use and move your joints through practically daily calisthenics/joint exercises, you will most likely end up very stiff, tight, and predisposed to a major injury if suddenly that joint is forced into a position it’s not mobile enough to get into (such as playing a weekend sport and pulling a hamstring running to first base).

When was the last time you thought about getting your body fat tested? I have tested many men who assume they are somewhat lean, but end up being close to 30% body fat and fairly normal looking with a shirt on. 25% body fat and above for males is considered obese. Or, how about that waist measurement? When bone structure is averaged out, a 40” waist puts you into the category of obese as well. Are you creeping up close to this number?

If anything, men, please see this as a call to action. You have a body that is not designed or hard-wired to handle the health-deterioration that comes with inaction, also known as sitting. Your body is meant to move. Your body is meant to be strong, mobile, conditioned, and lean. You don’t have to join the CrossFit movement and you don’t have to have a huge bench press. What I do hope you do is take pride in your physical body and it’s health.

The Takeaway: The daily mindset of movement is a must for long-term health, and please, do not ignore any aspect of fitness. If you truly want to be the most fit you’ve ever been, and maintain this status for life, it will require a mental shift and an honest understanding of where you currently stand, where you want to go, and how to get there. I encourage you to seek out quality professional advice! There is a whole world of trainers and strength and conditioning coaches that live for fitness, and they will probably see many holes in your current fitness routine. Get help, know where you stand, and keep on pursuing health your entire life!

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