How to Adapt the Men’s Health Muscle System to Your Own Needs
HEALTH MUSCLE SYSTEM. IF YOU’RE NOT HAVING FUN, YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. MAKE SURE YOU NEVER, EVER GET SORE, TIRED, OR BORED!
The two of you used to be a perfect team. Together, you had fun. You challenged each other, and day by day you could feel yourself growing stronger and healthier and maybe even a bit wiser, too. It felt as though you had finally found the long-term relationship that would bring you eternal bliss.
But as time passed, something changed. Once, your partner inspired an unbridled bodily drive that brought you to new peaks of physical exultation. Now, you have to drag yourself to visit, and when you arrive, you just don’t feel the same call, the same desire.You look in your partner’s direction and all you can see is 135 pounds of dull, dead weight.Well, don’t worry. After a couple of years together, a lot of guys feel that way about their exercise equipment.
Go loco for coco. Instead of a traditional sports drink, grab a coconut water for a post-workout boost. It’s lower in calories and has loads of electrolytes and potassium.
There are a lot of reasons why any great exercise partnership—with a gym, with a weight set, with a treadmill—can eventually go south. And these roadblocks to fitness affect the vast majority of us: 79 percent of men exercise less than two times week, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. But the three most common reasons men cite for kicking their programs to the curb?
- LACK OF PROGRESS.Too much work for too little reward. Lack of progress is cited in studies a lot, and there’s a reason: because there are a lot of seat-of-the-pants, one-size-fits-all fitness programs out there, most of which don’t take nutrition into account. (And nutrition is the bullet in any fitness plan’s chamber.) Fortunately, the Men’s Health Muscle System is a proven formula with proven results, created by our Men’s Health fitness experts and tested by people just like you. And it wasn’t until we had the eating and exercising formula just rightthat we unleashed the information in this book.
- LACK OF TIME.You are not idly rich. You don’t have endless stretches of time to spend at the gym doing every exercise. You have a job, friends, family, and a transmission that needs to be attended to … about 6 months ago. You don’t have time to be at the gym all day. So you need a program that is efficient, a program that will make you work hard, a program that will have you seeing results, and most of all, a program that’s going to be fun. Some of these are built in to the Men’s Health Muscle System. You’ll drop the act of counting reps and be moving faster than ever—and that includes dropping fat like you never have before.
- LACK OF EXCITEMENT.This one’s the biggie. Boredom is the balloon mortgage in your housing bubble, the intern scandal in your presidential campaign, the cracked blowout preventer in your deepwater drilling system. Unless you account for it and create a strategy plan to avoid it, it will destroy all of your best-laid plans. And here’s the real bummer: The more you need to get in shape, the harder boredom fights to drag you down. No kidding: Researchers reported in theJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior that people who are out of shape have a more difficult time enjoying exercise and maintaining a positive attitude about losing weight. That causes frustration, which too often leads them to quit the very thing they need most.
The other problem with boredom is that even if you manage to fight back, to stick with your same old routine, you’ll eventually find that your fitness plan stops working as well as it used to. That’s right, boredom actually erodes exercise gains, even if you show up for every session! In fact, scientists have found that if you stick with only one type of exercise for too long, it can decrease calorie burning by up to 25 percent. It’s not that the exercises you’re doing stop working; it’s that you simply become bored with the same old schtick, so you work out with less intensity and don’t see any changes.
So what’s a red-blooded, easily bored guy supposed to do?
Brother, you came to the right place.
The Workout That Never Leaves You Bored
The basic Men’s Health Muscle System outlined in the previous chapter is unlike any other fitness plan you’ve ever tried, and it’s nearly—nearly—boredom proof. By getting rid of snooze-inducing exercise clichés like doing a preset number of reps and hanging around between sets, you’ll be moving your body—and seeing your body change—faster than ever. And, just in case you like as much variety in your gym as Tommy Lee likes in his hotel room, this chapter includes a complete set of alternate exercises that you can swap in wherever, whenever.
But still, even the most intense, effective, revolutionary work-out routine in the world is, in the end, a routine. And that’s why the best way to stick to, and supercharge, your workout is to stop thinking that exercise has to involve, well, working out.
See, everything you do that involves a little bit of effort, a little bit of movement, and a little bit of fun can and should be considered exercise. So the sooner you start seeing “having fun” as an essential aspect of “exercising,” the sooner you’ll begin to burn fat and build muscle more effectively. In fact, a study in the journal Sports Medicine found that adding a wide range of activities of varying difficulty—including types of exercise that you enjoy—helps decrease boredom and increase the enjoyment of exercising. And when you enjoy exercise more, you’re more likely to stick with your plan and reach your goals.
And I’m not talking just about intense, physically challenging adventures like climbing a cliff face and surfing a tsunami. Baylor University scientists found that when you combine different forms of exercise, such as mixing high- and low-intensity activity, you experience faster improvements in strength and weight loss than you would if you went balls-out every time. That means that doing a high-intensityMen’s Health Muscle System workout one day and then a relaxing walk in the woods the next day will add just as much to your overall fitness as taking up an ax and chopping down said woods. Whether it’s putting together a new grill in your backyard (20 minutes of work that will burn more than 120 calories) or running around with your kids for 15 minutes (that’s another 120 calories), you’ll find that engaging in your favorite everyday activities is the best way to eliminate the boredom of exercise—and change the way you look.
Your Weekly Workout Plan
Here’s what you need to remember about the Men’s Health Muscle System—you should only be lifting weights 3 days a week. And each of those workouts should take 45 minutes or less. But a good work-out doesn’t end when you put down the weights. In fact, that’s when the fat-burning and muscle-gaining process kicks into high gear.
Don’t forget, after you lift weights, your metabolism stays elevated for up to another 48 hours, and the microtears in your muscles are being repaired and growing stronger. That’s why after you exercise hard, your muscles feel tight and sore. You can’t extend your arms, laughing hurts your abs, and your legs feel like they were dipped in concrete. This phenomenon is called “delayed onset muscle soreness.” Normally when you’re feeling a bit sore, your instinct might be to cut down on your physical activity for a day or two. Besides, you worked hard at the gym—you deserve to take it easy, right?
But restricting movement is actually the worst thing for your body. It might make sense to take a day off, but the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that doing low-intensity activity on your “off days” is the best way to improve recovery and increase lean muscle mass.
This is where having fun on your off day has extra benefits. Your favorite hobby helps the healing process by speeding up the flow of nutrients to your muscles, which repairs your muscle tissue. That’s why it’s called “active recovery,” or “active rest,” because it soothes your aches and pains and prepares your body for the best possible workout every time you lift weights. Another study, in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, found that using active recovery strategies helped cyclists perform better in subsequent training sessions than those who took a day off and performed no activity. What’s more, according to a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, active recovery strategies also help keep your metabolism chugging along for even more sustained fat burning. While the physical benefits are undeniable, active recovery also is essential to the mental aspect of making exercise enjoyable. A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that low-intensity exercise on off days had a positive effect on psychological recovery by removing the monotony of traditional exercise programs and helping increase relaxation.
Each week you should make these additional activities a builtin part of your workout, in addition to your weight training. They can be things you already love to do or an activity you’ve never tried before. Just don’t go above 60 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate, according to researchers, and don’t think that you need an all-day excursion to get the benefits: You’ll be fine even with 30 minutes or so. You’ll quickly find that not only will you have more energy and feel younger, but you’ll also be psychologically refreshed and more excited about exercise. This will help you stay consistent and reach your goals.
DAY 1: Men’s Health Muscle System
DAY 2: Active recovery: 20 minutes
DAY 3: Men’s Health Muscle System
DAY 4: Day off
DAY 5: Men’s Health Muscle System
DAY 6: Active recovery: 20 minutes
DAY 7: Day off
So what counts as an active recovery day? It can be almost any movement that gets your blood flowing. That might mean playing hoops, sweeping the floor, or wrestling with your children. The intensity can vary, but as long as you’re not straining your muscles with added resistance (as you do in the Men’s Health Muscle System), your body will benefit.
ACTIVITIES THAT COUNT AS EXERCISE ON YOUR ACTIVE RECOVERY DAY
SOFTBALL OR BASEBALL