When thinking about men’s fitness & health, it’s important to consider more than physical fitness. Nutrition and mental health are equally important pieces of the puzzle, each tying together in important ways.
It’s no secret that physical fitness can help fight disease, increase your expected lifespan, and improve your level of energy. However, studies have also shown that even small amounts of physical activity can improve your mental health by decreasing levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
This complete guide to men’s fitness & health aims to tackle all of these areas, giving you a baseline for improving your physical and mental health through fitness and nutrition, helping you live a happier and healthier life.
Whether you’ve been following a regular workout routine or are fairly new to fitness, the following workout tips can make your workouts more effective.
Remember to Breathe
Oxygen is fuel for the muscles. Don’t deprive yourself of it when you need it the most. During aerobic activity, be conscious of your breath. Breathing should come easily, even if it’s quicker than usual. If you find yourself struggling to breathe or if breathing becomes painful, take a break.
When lifting weights, the cardinal rule is to exhale while exerting your muscles (during your lifts) and inhale while coming back to your resting position. Time your breathing carefully so that you don’t overexert yourself.
Listening to music while working out does in fact lead to more productive days at the gym. Music increases your stamina and serves as mental motivation. Music can also provide a helpful distraction from muscle fatigue you might be experiencing.
Warm Up & Cool Down
Don’t just jump right into a workout. Stretching and warming up your muscles is important for preventing injury and increasing your muscular stamina. A proper cooldown tells your body that you are coming to a stop, allowing your heart rate to reset to normal while regulating your blood flow.
How to Build Muscle
Building muscle mass is an important aspect of physical fitness. Strength training can increase your muscular endurance and make it easier for you to complete day-to-day tasks. As we age, strength training will also slow down muscular atrophy.
Here are some of the easiest ways to increase muscle mass:
Increase Your Reps
The best way to quickly increase your muscle mass is to truly fatigue your muscles (safely, of course). If you feel comfortable doing so, increase your number of reps and the number of sets you complete.
If you’re just starting a new workout plan, make sure to ease into this process so as not to injure yourself.
Decrease Your Rest Time
If you’re looking to really challenge your muscles, decrease the amount of time you take to rest between sets. While it’s best to wait 2-5 minutes between sets to increase strength, the ideal rest period for muscle growth is 30-90 seconds. Set a timer on your phone or watch to keep yourself on track.
Eat Plenty of Protein
Build up your muscles with a protein-rich diet. Foods with a healthy dose of protein include eggs, meat, fish, and dairy products such as yogurt.
The recommended daily dose of protein for muscle-building is 1 gram per pound of body weight.
How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle?
The more muscle you have to begin with, the faster your muscles will grow. Beginners will notice a change in muscle mass after around two months of following a muscle-building workout plan. Experienced weight lifters will notice gains in about half that time.
How to Lose Fat
When people decide to begin a new workout plan, it’s often with the goal of losing fat. Unlike the process involved in muscle growth, fat loss necessitates a combination of a routine exercise regimen with a regulated diet.
Here are some helpful methods for shedding fat:
The consumption of sugar (fructose) can slow down the metabolic system and lead to your body forming excess fat. Swap out your next sugary beverage for a glass of water or a sugar-free sports drink.
Perform Cardio Exercises
Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that increases your heart rate, such as running, biking, swimming, or participating in a Method Gym spin class. Cardio burns calories, which reduces your body fat.
Improve Sleep Quality
Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your overall health, including your physical well-being. A well-rested person will be able to curb their cravings better and will have more energy for exercise.
How Long Does it Take to Lose Fat?
Your rate of fat loss will depend on a number of factors including genetics, starting percentage of body fat, consistency and intensity of exercise, and commitment to a healthy diet.
You will lose one pound for every 3,500 calories you burn. This means that you could burn a pound every week by trimming around 500 calories daily (either through exercise, diet, or both).
Your level of physical fitness affects your ability to stay healthy and ward off disease – both short term (cold, flu, headaches) and long term (heart disease, diabetes, cancer).
However, your likelihood of developing certain diseases is affected by a number of factors including genetics, environment, habits, and psychology.
Here are some diseases that impact men in particular and some methods for preventing them:
After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting men in the United States. According to the CDC, 13% of men will develop prostate cancer, while 2-3% of men will die from it.
A healthy diet and a regular exercise routine will go a long way towards warding off prostate cancer. But one lesser-known way to prevent prostate cancer is to get about 10 minutes of exposure to sunshine daily. This is because Vitamin D helps to protect against most forms of cancer and disease.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, killing nearly 400,000 people annually. Heart disease is characterized by the clogging of blood arteries in the body, preventing proper blood flow to the heart. A complete blockage of blood flow to the heart results in a heart attack.
Add more heart-healthy food to your daily diet, such as:
Fruits & Vegetables
Type 2 Diabetes
About 1 in 10 Americans lives with diabetes, with the vast majority of them suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a life-long condition that impacts the body’s ability to break down sugar, and occurs when someone has consistently high levels of blood sugar.
The simplest way to prevent Type 2 diabetes is to regulate your diet and to keep up with a scheduled exercise routine.
Cardiovascular fitness is measured by the body’s ability to supply oxygen to the lungs, muscles, and organs during a workout. Cardio exercises – also known as aerobic exercises – are those that raise your heart rate for a prolonged period of time.
Cardiovascular fitness is crucial for your ability to prevent disease. By improving your body’s ability to supply oxygen throughout, cardio exercises reduce your risk of conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and stroke.
How to Measure Your Cardiovascular Fitness Level
The easiest way to test your cardiovascular fitness is to check your resting heart rate (RHR). A RHR anywhere between 60-100 beats per minute is considered normal, with fit people sitting on the lower end of the scale. To test yours, set a timer for 10 seconds and count your heartbeats during that time frame. Multiply your number by 6 to get your RHR in beats per minute.
As you continue your fitness journey, test your RHR regularly to get a measurement of how your fitness level is improving. Note that the best time to test your RHR is in the morning.
How to Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness
There are a number of ways to improve your cardiovascular fitness. We’ll dive into a couple of those methods here.
Whether on the treadmill or in the Great Outdoors, running is a great way to get the heart pumping. It’s also an incredibly accessible activity since it can be done just about anywhere.
Another great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness is through a group fitness class at Method Gym. Whether it’s spin, Zumba, or a Les Mills class like BODYPUMP, our classes are excellent for challenging your cardiovascular fitness level.
As the saying goes: you are what you eat. How you fuel your body is just as important as what you do with the fuel you have. It’s no secret that a healthy, balanced diet is good for you. But did you know that only 1 in 10 adults gets the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables in their diet?
If you’re setting a goal to eat healthier, the best thing you can do is to start making better decisions. Even just once a day to start with, make the healthier choice and build from there.
Men’s and women’s bodies are different, and thus have different needs. For example, men burn calories at a higher rate than women, meaning they require more calories per day to maintain the same body mass.
Men also need more daily protein and carbohydrates, while women generally need more iron and calcium.
Hoping to improve your nutrition? Here are some helpful tips for you to implement in your day-to-day life.
Keep Track of Sodium Intake
Most of our sodium comes from packaged foods (chips, crackers, popcorn) and fast food. High levels of sodium can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. For your next snack, try the “low sodium” option. Or, replace your next take-out meal with a home-cooked one.
Get Your Daily Dose of Fiber
Fiber is crucial for our digestion and also makes us feel full for longer periods of time, cutting down on cravings.
Common foods that provide fiber include:
As previously mentioned, your physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. In recent years, society has become more aware of the importance of mental health, which has led to people taking theirs more seriously.
While it’s estimated that 1 in 4 adults suffers from a diagnosable form of mental illness, everyone can benefit from reducing levels of stress and improving their mental health practices.
Self-care is the act of setting aside time to care for yourself both mentally and physically. Self-care can mean different things to different people. For some, taking a quiet hour to read their favorite book can be an important form of self-care. For others, cooking a favorite meal can be self-care.
As self-care is a personal concept, only you can truly know what will provide you with peace and rest. But if you’re stuck, here are some ideas:
Take a Break
Burnout is quite common in the workplace, with 59% of men reporting feelings of burnout in their daily lives. One of the best ways to solve this problem is also the most simple: take a break. Whether that means taking a 30 minute break to walk outside or taking a long weekend to go camping, breaks are an important – and often overlooked – necessity for mental sanity.
Log Off Social Media
Social media is an incredible tool that brings people together in ways that were previously unimaginable.
But Americans have a tendency to overindulge: people spend an average of 1 hour and 40 minutes on social media each day, and 60% of men are addicted to social media.
If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it might be a good idea to unplug for a bit – even if just for a few hours.
Unwind at the Gym
Exercise is a tried-and-true method for stress relief. Exercise gets the blood flowing and promotes the production of endorphins in the body – the chemical responsible for happiness.
Method Gym members frequently report feeling happier, more confident, and more content in their daily lives after several weeks of following a fitness routine.