Every man should strive to be fit. It’s not a matter of aesthetics or getting six pack abs. It’s about functional strength and the way a healthy body can affect every aspect of your life. Keeping yourself in shape boosts your happiness, brain power, confidence, and success, allows you to play with your kids now and live long enough to see them grow up, and prepares you to save your own life or the lives of others.
Of course keeping yourself in top physical condition is easier said than done. Boredom and a lack of motivation can kill our desire to go for a run or get to the gym. Doing the same work out routine day-in-and-day-out gets old fast. And repeating the same work out may actually cause a plateau in your progress. So to stick with it and get results, a man needs to periodically break out of his tired old workout routine and mix things up from time to time.
Adding in a few different tools can make your fitness routine feel fresh again. To snap out of your usual, tired and boring workout routine, we suggest giving these five items a try.
There’s a reason why most branches of the military uses the pull-up as one of their fitness benchmarks. In this simple exercise, your body calls upon multiple muscle groups, including your lats, shoulders, back, forearms, biceps, and core. But many men skip the pull-up and instead do multiple exercises to work these same muscles. Snap out of your typical workout routine with the Iron Gym Pull-up Bar. The Iron Gym is a pull-up bar that attaches to your doorway with pressure alone–no screws or bolts. Here’s a typical workout routine I personally do with the Iron Gym. I based it off Pavel’s “Grease the Groove” exercise philosophy. Just put it between a door frame that you frequently pass through and leave it there. Whenever you walk in or out of the room, crank out two or three pull-ups. Never go to failure. After a few weeks of consistently doing this, you’ll be surprised by the results. You’ll be significantly stronger and have honed that manly V-shaped torso that women find so attractive.
Human beings are designed to run. Back in our tribal days, we used to run for hours on end in pursuit of our dinner. But we weren’t designed to run in big clunky shoes filled with foam, air pockets, and “shocks.” And therein lies the problem with the old running shoe routine: there aren’t any studies that show that shoes with a bunch of whiz-bang features help you run better or ward off injuries. In fact, some researchers theorize that conventional running shoes may actually cause injuries by preventing you from running the way your body was designed to.
Of course our feet, having been pampered and protected since we were newborn babes, are too tender to suddenly be ground into the gravel. What they need is a covering that offers protection from glass and rocks while not inhibiting the natural barefoot running form. This is where Vibram Five Fingers come in. Vibrams are like gloves for your feet. There’s no padding, and there’s a slot for each one of your toes. When you wear Vibrams, you feel like you’re barefoot. People who have made the switch to Vibrams have reported improved posture, elimination of lower back pain, and decreased running injuries. They also report funny looks from people at the gym, but they get used to that.
Any kind of exercise is great; just getting outside and moving your body around for awhile has it’s benefits. But using a tool to track just how hard you’re working can take your fitness up to the next level. That’s why heart rate monitors are an effective tool in a man’s exercise arsenal. They let you know if you’re slacking off and if you’re really training at a high enough intensity. Men like competition and perhaps the best competition is with yourself, seeing just how hard you can push your body, willing it to beat last week’s marks. And knowing how many calories you’ve burned can be really motivating, not just because you can put a tangible number with your workout, but also because you realize how hard it is to burn even 600 calories and how easily you can put them back by stuffing a donut in your piehole when you get home.
Having a heart rate monitor with a built-in GPS is even more handy. It can track your speed and distance during biking or running workouts, so you don’t have to guesstimate how far you’ve gone. You can also create laps for yourself and compare your last 16 workouts. All of this data can be easily uploaded to your computer for creating reports on your progress, so you can see if you’re improving week to week.
Barbells and dumbbells are a fantastic way to increase strength and muscle mass. But chances are you’ve been using them for years, doing the same old exercises over and over again. You need something to snap you out of your tired routine. Enter the kettlebell, one of the best training tools out there. What’s a kettlebell you ask? Imagine a cannonball with a handle. Awesome and awesomely manly.
Created by Russian weightlifters, kettlebells have been used for many decades by athletes and strongmen to perform high intensity workouts that provide strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility training. A short 30 minute workout with one of these babies builds muscle, burns fat, and gets you in the best physical condition of your life. Become strong like bull. Start using kettlebells.
Weights. Treadmill. Crunches.
Does that sound like your workout routine? How would you like to do a workout used by Ancient Greeks and famous pugilists like John L. Sullivan?
Then it’s time to get your manly paws on the old medicine ball. Medicine balls are one of history’s oldest pieces of exercise equipment. Ancient Persians would fill animal bladders with sand to create their medicine balls. Fast forward to the 19th century, and you’ll find physical culture enthusiasts and boxers throwing around medicine balls to invigorate and strengthen their muscles. Today the medicine ball is experiencing a revival with fitness enthusiasts across the world. They’re one of the best pieces of exercise equipment to help build functional strength, and they can be used to do exercises that are both fun and effective.
Win a Polar RS300X G1 Heart Rate Monitor Watch with G1 GPS Sensor
Hyundai will be giving away a Polar RS300x G1 Heart Rate Monitor Watch to one lucky AoM reader, so he can start snapping himself out of his workout routine. Here’s how to enter the sweepstakes:
Leave a comment sharing a fitness tip that you use to snap out of your workout routine and mix things up.
Deadline to enter is March 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm CST.