Many men dream of having rock hard abs and bulging biceps but this kind of fitness cannot be achieved overnight. Exercise is as much a discipline as an activity, and it takes time and dedication to achieve success with any physical fitness program. If you haven't been terribly active lately, or if you want to start things off easy, try out this beginner exercise program for men. By exercising just a few times a week you can slowly build up your strength and endurance, and begin to tone and build your muscles.
Before You Start
Many people make the mistake of jumping in to a rigorous workout regimen with the hopes of losing weight fast or getting back into shape. The road to true physical fitness is a long one however, and if you hope to make the results of your workouts permanent, you need to take things slow at first.
Before you begin to exercise it is important to prepare your body for the workout session. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout to keep your body from becoming dehydrated. Stretches and warm-ups are also important. By stretching before and after weight training or cardiovascular exercise, you will not only decrease the likelihood of pulling a muscle, but you may find that you are less sore the next day.
Elements of a Successful Exercise Program
Believe it or not, one of the most important (and most overlooked) elements of a successful workout program is rest. It is imperative that after a tough workout session you give your body and your muscles time to rest. If you try to work too hard or too fast, your body may not be able to handle the stress and you could injure yourself. Plan your exercise program to give yourself at least one day of rest in between workouts. You may choose to simply workout every other day or you might start off easy by working out three days a week. Whatever system you choose to follow, make sure you include a rest day after every workout.
In addition to implementing rest days in your workout schedule, it is also important that you balance the types of exercises you do. Try to develop a schedule that accommodates for both weight training and cardiovascular exercise without straining your body. One way to do this is to break up your workouts by focusing on a certain muscle group during each session. If during one workout session you focus on your chest and back, during your next session focus on your shoulders and legs. Every workout session should include some measure of cardiovascular exercise and ab exercises, but the rest of the session can be varied from day to day.
As you develop a beginner exercise program, try out a variety of different exercises and decide which ones are best for you. You may find that certain exercises are easier for you to perform and others might pose a healthy challenge. Try some of these abdominal exercises and consider adding them to your weekly workout regimen.
Weighted Crunch = Lie flat on your back with your arms extended over your head and grasp in each hand a light hand weight. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you raise your arms and back from the floor and crunch in toward your pelvis. Slowly lower yourself back to the ground and perform another 12-15 repetitions.
Side Bends = Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your hands under your head. Lift your shoulder blades slightly off the floor by curling up and bend at the waist to the left. Aim your left armpit toward your left hip then slowly straighten yourself and repeat the process to the right. Lower yourself back into the starting position and repeat for three sets of eight repetitions.
Torso Rotation = Kneel on the ground and hold a medicine ball or basketball in your hands in front of you. Twist quickly to your right and set the ball down behind your back then twist to the left and pick the ball back up. Repeat the process for an even number of repetitions to each side.
Sideways Leg Lifts = Lie on your side with your legs straight, your torso lifted slightly off the ground and your left forearm on the floor to provide balance. Bend your right arm and place your hand behind your head, then lift your legs vertically off the floor while keeping your torso still. Pause for a moment then slowly lower your legs to the ground and repeat for 10 repetitions. Switch to your other side and complete 10 more repetitions.
Cardiovascular Workout Tips
Cardiovascular exercise is an important element of any workout program. There are many ways to engage in cardiovascular exercise, but jogging is one of the most popular. Whether you jog around the track or on the treadmill there are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of your cardio exercise.
Running shoes are imperative if you plan to jog. Regular sneakers do not have the same capacity to absorb shock, which can be bad for your knees, as well as giving you blisters. It is also important that you warm up before jogging. Walk quickly for 2-5 minutes before you begin to jog, then focus on your breathing as you run. If you begin to feel out of breath, slow down and walk for a bit if you need to.
Rowing machines and stationary bicycles are good alternatives to running on a track or treadmill. These options provide a different type of workout while still increasing your heart rate and helping you burn calories. No matter which method of cardiovascular workout routine your prefer, it is important to remember not to overstrain your body. Your entire exercise program should last no longer than 90 minutes with about 30 minutes of that time devoted to your cardio workout.
If you are serious about getting back into shape, consider taking the time to truly develop a beginner exercise program, designed for men, with workouts and routines that you can stick with and learn to enjoy. It is easy to sign up for a class at the gym or to join an exercise support group, but the best way to truly make your routine workouts a life-changing success, is to customize the routine to suit you. Plan your exercise program around your schedule and be sure to include a rest day after every workout session. If you take ownership of developing your own exercise program around your lifestyle, you will be more likely to easily incorporate fitness into your daily routines and personal goals.
"Running FAQs for Beginners," Men's Health Magazine Online
"Easy 3 Day Workout Routine," AskMen.com
Stretching photo by Flickr user Tobyotter
Muscles photo by Flickr user Hairy.Jacques
Lifting Weights photo by Flickr user Jonclegg
Sit Ups photo by Flickr user Cursedthing