When little, many of them can attest to activities like tying sheets around their necks to pretend to fly, rescuing damsels from the "fire breathing dragon", exploring "distant" lands or going on "top secret" missions that meant something or someone was going to get karate chopped. While I don't have any sons, I do have nephews and many friends with boys and it's amazing how one by one, as if activated via DNA they all have been superheros or superspies or superwarriors or some other super-something. I've been on the other end of a number of man-child karate blows and have witnessed how at some point each of them has wanted to be told how strong and "tough" they were after showing some "strong-man" feat. I don't think this changes much during adulthood because to this day, with all the training knowledge and tools we have, many guys still compare how much they can bench press with each other. Indeed, it seems for many, being able to pick up the biggest weights in the gym continues to be the goal.
So, I say men do like to be mighty. And as a group they are mighty, of this there is no doubt. They break athletic records, run into burning buildings to save people, protect us and still find time to open the pickle jar. BUT, sometimes this mightiness (coupled with a bit of stubborn) comes at a heavy price and can lead to problems both in their health and in their fitness training because it can foster an attitude of invincibility. I'm definitely generalizing and there are plenty of men for whom such things are simply not true... but I've trained a lot of guys and watched a lot of guys train. Based on that knowledge, I've found that there are 10 things our Men of Steel should do that will have a huge impact on boosting the "mighty-factor" so listen up guys:
- Warm up AND cool down at EVERY workout session. One of my biggest pet peeves as a trainer is seeing people jump into a workout without preparation and then stop without returning the body to "normal". This is one of the best ways to invite an injury. Give yourself at least 5-10 minutes on either side of your workout time mobilizing the muscles you'll be specifically using in your workout and then stretching them for longer period at the end.
- Cycle your workouts. Every workout should not be brutal. Weave in moderate days with those kicka** days. The exact mix depends on you fitness level, health and training objectives.
- Get enough sleep regularly, 6-8 hours. Tired bodies just don't function well. We all know this yet so many of us fall short. Plus, your body goes all haywire and you won't reap all the benefits from your workouts.
- Allow yourself rest and recovery when appropriate. Contrary to what some believe, your body actually builds muscle, gets stronger, gets faster, gets BETTER after you train. True, you do practice skill during the session but your physical body reaps the benefits post-exercise during the rebuilding phase. Your workouts provide the stimuli. Make sure there's about 48 hours between lifts on the same body part. Super intense bouts may require more rest or at the very least very moderate workouts.
- Eat green stuff. Yes, this means things that are grown in the ground. It's not "rabbit food", it's manly, preserve-your-sexy food. Veggies are where many of your micronutrients come from and the green ones pack a big body-loving nutritional wallop.
- Drink water. Yes, beer, wine and coffee are liquids but your body needs the plain ol' clear stuff, too, just to operate properly. This is especially important if you're looking to manage your weight.
- Go to the doctor. Make sure things are functioning properly under the hood, preferably before something has gone wrong.
Cross-training reigns supreme. Variety IS the spice of life and wards off boredom tempting you to quit. You'll also be less prone to injury.
Do more than golf, fish, hunt etc. Bottom line, there are activities that may qualify you as being active, but they won't make you fit. Do resistance/weight training 2-3 days per week for all body parts and cardio 3-5 days per week.
Stretch! Do mobility exercises. Throw in a massage or two, and use myo-fascial tools like foam rollers and tennis balls (yes, it does feel uncomfortable but if you do it regularly it will feel so good!). Strength without mobility is not strong. What? I've seen plenty of "strong" men. But, since their muscles don't function properly, as in play fair in working with the rest of their muscles, they couldn't do what they wanted to effectively. It's important for your body to be strong, but you also need adequate range of motion and to be able to maintain proper alignment when you move. Tightness across your joints not only impedes you performance, it also leads to pain and possible injury when your body is out of whack. For instance, if your pecs and shoulders are "tight" along with your hip flexors and hamstrings your back will likely hurt and you may have headaches or sciatica.
So, there you have it. Ten tips that can have a great impact on the well being of any Man of Steel. Remember, that the goal of training is to make yourself better than you were before. Take the time to create an environment for your body to thrive so you'll be better able to continue slaying those grown-up-version dragons and complete the top-secret life missions you've created for yourself for many more years to come. Your friends and loved ones will certainly appreciate it.
In honor of Father's Day, as well as Men's Health, Wildfire Fitness is offering 15% off any of our training opportunities purchased for the guys during the month of June, including personal training, ATMOS: Fusion Met/Con and URBAN Boot Camp, which starts June 11th in SW Portland. No need for them to go it alone when they can get the tools they need to get it done.
Be healthy. Be fit.
Make your days great!
Tami Williams, BSc
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
President and Fitness Diva