Let’s face it – men and women have many differences! Because they are physically different, their fitness and nutritional needs also differ. Both men and women would benefit from regular exercise and a healthy diet. Yet, the male body responds more favorably to certain types of exercises and foods.
Nutrition for Men
The male body has a higher percentage of muscle tissue than the female body. To support lean muscle tissue, especially in active men, eating adequate amounts protein is essential. In fact, men who want to build muscle mass might benefit from slightly increasing the daily recommendation of protein in their diets. A diet that is built around lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and low-fat dairy products may better encourage muscle growth.
Although too little protein in the diet can cause muscles to shrink, eating too much protein may actually stimulate weight loss. (The body burns more calories digesting protein than it does digesting carbs.) If you’re trying to shed excess weight, a high-protein diet could be the way to go. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to increase your protein intake only a little if you’re trying to gain lean weight and build muscle.
According to Men’s Health.com, “protein has qualities that help weight loss and may curtail weight gain…The best weight-gain strategy is to focus on calories first, protein second. You should make sure you’re eating at least 2 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of muscle mass.”
In addition to protein, the male body also needs adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Nutrient-rich diets help keep men healthy. Vitamins (including plenty of antioxidants) and minerals are essential for preventing oxidative damage to the cells in the body. These nutrients are necessary for maintaining healthy tissue, protecting the immune system, preventing bone loss (yes, even men need calcium), and protecting from loss of vision.
Exercises for Men
The types of exercises that are most beneficial to a man depend upon his fitness goals. Does he want to lose weight? Does he want to bulk up? Does he want to improve his endurance and speed?
Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best ways to burn fat and calories. There are many kinds of great cardio workouts, such as jogging outdoors or on a treadmill, training on an elliptical machine, bicycling, and interval training. Ideally, men should try to get a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise at least three times per week.
Interval training is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories, improve endurance and speed, and strengthen and tone muscles. Such training involves alternating high and low intensity exercises, as well as start-and-stop motions. Intensity levels may be increased as fitness improves.
Men who wish to build muscle should engage in resistance and strength training no less than twice per week for 30 minutes or more each session. To bulk up fast, exercise routines should focus mainly on strengthening the hamstrings, chest, back, and quadriceps. Bench presses, weighted squats, pushups, bicep curls, tricep extensions, lunges, crunches, and seated rowing are examples of resistance and strength training exercises.
Those whose ultimate fitness goal is to bulk up should engage primarily in strength training routines. For optimal results and to avoid strain and injury, vary the workouts and target a different area of the body each day. For instance, you might work the lower body one day and the upper body the next. Muscles need time to repair after each intense training session, and they respond better when they are given a day or so to rest between workouts.
To lose weight AND build muscle, a balanced routine that includes both cardio and strength training often works best. Such routines should target the total body and should include at least one exercise for each muscle group. Spending just a few minutes on each area of the body when performing resistance exercises can still produce noticeable results. Challenge your body even further by regularly changing your workout routines. Most importantly, engage in exercises that you enjoy and that motivate you to reach your fitness goals.
Workout Routine for Men
Men who are just beginning a fitness program may need a little help getting started. Hiring a personal trainer is always an option. However, there are also numerous workout videos and online resources available.
Ian Lee, a fitness specialist with AskMen.com, has presented a three-day workout routine for men who have busy schedules and limited time to exercise. According to Lee, this workout plan gives you a total body workout over the course of three different exercise sessions.
“The trick to getting a complete workout is to be efficient,” said Ian Lee.
Below is an example of the three-day workout routine:
- Day One – Work on chest, back, and abs, and do 30 minutes of cardio exercise.
- Day Two – Rest
- Day Three – Focus on shoulders, abs, and legs and perform 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise.
- Day Four – Rest
- Day Five – Work biceps, triceps, and abdominals, and do 30 minutes of cardio.
- Days Six and Seven – Rest
Choose the specific types of exercises for this 3-day routine based on available equipment, preferences, and level of fitness. Each exercise session should be completed within an hour and a half or less, including the cardio segment of the workout.
Through proper nutrition and exercise, men can reach their fitness goals as they improve their health and overall well-being.