Workouts For Men
(note: this blog was was originally published at ttfatloss.com)
Whatever your fitness and physique goals are, it is important to structure your programming in a way that allows you to meet those goals in the shortest time period possible. You have a tremendous variety of tools in the tool box, and it is sometimes easy to forget that not all methods are effective for all goals.
Athletes training for their sport practice some highly specific drills; training for fat loss requires adjustment of nutritional strategies; powerlifters work on becoming skilled and efficient in their primary lifts.
Given these examples, is easy to see that none of these scenarios would really benefit from using strategies intended for the others.
And so, if your goal is simply to build a lean, symmetrical, attractive and sexy body, you have to gear your diet and training structure towards those goals.
Here are 5 tips to help you along the way:
1) Focus on Building an X-Shaped Physique
When it comes to being physically attractive to the opposite sex, it’s important to understand that certain body dimensions are visually important, from an evolutionary perspective.
Our progenitors credited desirable traits like strength, productivity, and virility to corresponding physical attributes. While societal ‘needs’ may have changed in a way that no longer makes it ‘necessary’ to have the characteristics to succeed, to a certain extent we carry our ancestors tastes.
This means that physical traits which imply the presence of “mating qualifiers” are important for increasing your stock with the ladies.
To that end, an X-shaped physique means: broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and strong, well-developed calves.
For broad shoulders, focus on core movements that allow for maximal recruitment, such as the push press, as well as some isolation exercises to focus on the medial delts and increases width, such as lateral raises.
A narrow waist is primarily the result of a low level of body fat, obviously. However, it is important to understand that the muscles around your waist respond to weight training in much the same way that all other muscles do: by growing! So while I don’t ever advise avoiding certain exercises completely, I offer the caveat that one should avoid training rotational exercises with either heavy weight or high volume.
Strong, well-developed calves are not easy to come by. Calves are a notoriously stubborn body part to grow, so I recommend training them multiple times per week. Work your calves first in your training session, not last.
By focusing on these muscles and building a physique more in line with what our ancestors considered desirable (and let’s be honest, we still do), you are on the road to a sexier body.
2) Push Less, Pull More
n keeping with the ideas from above, the goal of training for sexiness should also include balance and symmetry. This not only should you train the right way, but also that you need to make a concentrated effort to avoid training the wrong way.
As men, we’re highly visual creatures. As trainees, this translates into becoming highly focused on ‘mirror muscles’ – that is, those you can readily see in any mirror.
Guys in general tend to do a lot more work on muscles like chest than back. I cannot begin to describe the drawbacks of this mentality. Instead, I’ll focus on the main ideas of this post.
With specific regard to appearance, lopsided training which focuses on anterior (front) muscles over posterior (rear) muscles leads to pretty ugly imbalances. In addition to this being a great way to get yourself injured, it can lead to a round, forward shouldered look that is not the goal of any training program I’ve ever heard of.
Keeping in mind the idea of building a sexy body, it’s worth noting that such a look is also decidedly unattractive.
Instead, we should focus more on the muscles of the upper back: latissimus dorsi, teres major, trapezius, et al. These muscles, developed correctly, will help pull your shoulders back, helping to create the broad shouldered look that men find powerful and women find attractive.
To prevent imbalances and help to create such a look, try to maintain a 3:2 ratio of pulling exercises to pushing exercises.
As an example, 3 sets of rows, 2 sets of bench presses.
Following this pattern, you are far less likely to develop unattractive imbalances; in addition, you will be less like to incur injury. And probably be more likely to get your shirt off.
3) Lift Heavy at Least 4 Days per Month
The benefits of heavy training are widely documented, so once again I’ll just focus on the relevancy to building a bang-worthy body.
Training heavy doesn’t just make you strong—it makes you look strong. Training in low rep-ranges (3-5 reps) necessitates the use of near-maximal weight. In generally, you would be working within 75%-85% of your 1RM.
This elicits some profound physiological changes.
Training with heavy loads leads to an increase in both neurogenic and myogenic muscle tone, both of which are important for building an attractive physique.
First, it is necessary to recognize that for the purposes of this writing, the word “tone” means the level of tension in a muscle. With that understood, let’s talk about each type.
Neurogenic tone refers to the level of tension in a muscle in a working or flexed state. That is, how “hard” a muscle is when you are either training it, or just flexing it for some chick at the gym/beach/World of Warcraft party.
Myogenic tone can be defined as residual tension in a resting muscle. What this really means is how hard, full, and dense your muscles are when you’re just hanging out. Rather than some artificial pump, an increase in myogenic tone is a permanent increase in the appearance of your muscles.
Increasing neurogenic and mygenic tone also has the benefit of making muscles more visible at slightly higher levels of bodyfat – and there is a lot to be said for having your triceps pop out a bit more at 10%–just imagine how they’ll look at 8%!
To achieve the increases, my clients all have at least 1 day per week dedicated to lifting near maximal loads. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, heavy training also leads to strength increases, which has obvious implications for training in the future.
Take home: lift heavy, get hard. Wait, what?
4) Mix Up Your Training
In order to create a body suited for a variety of physical…er, tasks, (yup, that was a sexual innuendo) you need to change up you workout pretty frequently.
Training variety keeps you motivated and invariably leads to better results. In terms of helping you increase your rating on the Scale of Sexy, the main benefit if from a fat loss perspective.
While it is arguable that “training ADD” can inhibit muscle gains (which is only true if you are changing haphazardly with no thought to programming), for the purposes of getting lean, exposing yourself to consistently changing stimulus is an excellent way to ramp up metabolism and consistently increases the processes by which fat loss is made possible.
Certainly, I do not advocate switching programs from day to day. Instead, I recommend choosing or designing programs that have multiple training methods built into a training week. (For example, Turbulence Training by Craig Ballantyne).
An easy way to work variety into your training is to change exercises for the same movement. Switching form bench presses to push ups, counter intuitive though it might seem, can actually help you increase muscle mass, as well as lose fat.
Even a switch as simple as trading in barbells for dumbbells for a single workout can make significant changes, and keep you lean year round, aiding your quest for a sexy body.
For more structured change, consider trying out timed workouts: that is, instead of counting reps, each set will be for a given length of time—the goal of course is to get as many reps in that time period as possible.
Not only will increasing training variety make you sexier, but it also keeps training fresh and fun.
5) Tame Your Hormones
I hope it isn’t news to you that men and women have vastly different fat storage patterns than men. Moreover, fat storage patterns vary pretty heavily from man to man.
In general, men tend to store fat around the abdominal and love handle areas. Once again, we have our ancestors to thank/blame for this one. So after 10,000 years of evolution, we’ve adapted to storing fat where it wouldn’t get in the way of hunting, killing, skinning, and devouring dinosaurs, wildebeests, and squirrels.
Women, on the other hand, store fat in the hip and thigh area.
Evolutionary favoritism notwithstanding, these differences are due in large part to differences in hormonal environments between men and women.
To make it basic: men generally have higher levels of cortisol, which will lend itself to storage of midsection fact, whereas high estrogen leads to lower body fat storage.
Of course, we can’t talk about dude hormones without mentioning testosterone.
Men, listen up: testosterone is your friend, and the more of it you have, the faster you’ll gain muscle, lose fat, meet women, and read my blog posts. Therefore, high levels of test are good.
Unfortunately, when you are on a fat loss program (AKA when you are dieting down for beach season or spring break), the way testosterone effects insulin management gets a little screwy. And insulin (or rather insulin resistance) is a tremendous problem for most guys trying to lose fat.
In fact, with most of the male clients I’ve had, as they get closer to their goal body fat level, it gets much harder to lose fat in those more “masculine” areas such as abs, obliques, and lower back.
However, to aid in shedding the love handles and creating a body worth seeing naked, there are a few ways to improve insulin management via supplementation and diet.
For supplements, fish oil, along with the myriad of other benefits, has been shown to vastly improve insulin management when taken in high doses.
As far as additions to diet: cinnamon, added to meals containing carbohydrates, has been shown to mitigate the effects of insulin spikes and fat storage. Along those same lines, there is some evidence to support that drinking a moderate dose of apple cider vinegar prior to meals containing carbohydrates has similar effects.
A combination of an intelligent diet and training program, as well as a few tricks like the supplement recommendations above is a great way to make your endocrine system work with you to create a great body, instead of against you.
So there you have it: 5 simple strategies to help you lose fat, put muscle on the right places, and build a body women are evolutionarily programmed to want to see naked.
Guys: What fat loss workout tips do you have? How do you balance your workouts?
Ladies: What do YOU look for in a man’s body? We want to know are we working out the right areas!