You want to get in shape, but you’re not sure where to start. No worries. Here are the best workout moves for guys. Not only will these exercises target specific parts of your body, but they also have the benefit of boosting heart health.
Cardio exercise is vital, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. “Strength and resistance training are also critical,” says Kevin R. Campbell, MD, an assistant professor in the cardiology division at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“When we utilize resistance training, we increase cardiovascular demand and we improve heart rate response to stress,” he says. “Ideally, exercise programs should blend both cardio and strength training in a way that keeps you interested, engaged, and always challenged.” Use these expert-approved exercises for men to get started:
For an overall body-conditioning exercise for men, Brett Hoebel — celebrity trainer, nutrition expert on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, and creator of the 20-Minute Body videos — recommends thrusters. Start off in a squat and thrust yourself into an overhead press. This can be done slowly for more strength development or faster for metabolic conditioning, Hoebel says. Add weight using kettlebells, dumbbells, or an Olympic bar with plates. Do as many reps as possible (or AMRAP) in 60 seconds. “To determine the amount of weight for any exercise, the last three reps of each set should be challenging,” Hoebel says. If those reps are too easy, increase the amount of weight. If they’re too hard, decrease the weight.
Outside or on a treadmill, interval sprints are an excellent cardio workout, Hoebel says. He recommends doing a 30-second high-intensity sprint followed by a 60-second slow walk, repeated 10 times. Treadmills are beneficial for this exercise because you have to keep up with the pace and can’t cheat. Yet doing sprints outside has added benefits for your hamstrings and glutes because you have to propel yourself off the ground instead of moving along with the treadmill. Dr. Campbell says that the high-intensity, high-heart-rate factor combined with periods of heart-rate recovery can help train the cardiovascular system to respond quickly and effectively to physical stress.
One of the most effective exercises for men is the basic pushup, says Seth Browning, a certified personal trainer, celebrity trainer, and senior boot camp instructor at The Phoenix Effect in West Hollywood, California. He works with his clients to perfect their form for maximum results
“A proper pushup should be slow and controlled on the way down, with a two-second pause, and explosive on the way up,” he says. Start with one perfect pushup, he says, and, once you accomplish that, do three more and continue to add on to your sets. When your form is perfect, so are the results. It’s better to do fewer the right way than to do more and risk injury or not achieve results, Browning adds.
Pullups are another fundamental exercise for men to achieve a toned physique, Browning says. Correct execution is again the goal. “A true pullup releases almost entirely to the base or starting point and ends almost above the hand position — every time,” he says. He recommends working up to 10 pullups and then dropping into 10 pushups. Do two sets.
“Whenever you utilize large muscle groups, cardiac health is improved, as these large muscle groups demand more blood flow during periods of vigorous exercise,” Campbell says. “Whenever we ask the heart to increase its efficiency during periods of vigorous exercise, we are able to improve our cardiovascular health.”
Supinated cable chest flys
Another of Hoebel’s recommended exercises for men is the supinated cable chest fly. “This is performed as a normal chest fly except with the hands turned palms up,” he explains. By turning the hands up, you prevent too much rounding of the back, which inhibits the chest, and you get to focus more on the lower pecs. This is another exercise that should be done AMRAP in 60 seconds. Using a cable machine allows for smoother and easier-to-control resistance, but you still want to choose a weight that makes the last three reps challenging.
Dumbbell ab jackknife.
Time to work those abs? Hoebel’s pick is the dumbbell ab jackknife. Start flat on your back with your legs straight and arms extended straight overhead, holding a dumbbell lightly resting on the floor. Lift one leg off the floor while crunching upward and raising the dumbbell toward your toes. To increase the intensity of this exercise for men, lift both legs off the floor into a V-up, Hoebel says. Reps should be AMRAP in a 60-second set.
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