What is the typical adult male workout??? Well since you asked … it goes something like this: 20-30 minutes of cardio on elliptical, bike, or treadmill – some upper body exercises like bench press, shoulder press and curls – and finish with some sit ups.
You might be thinking that is what I do every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Well it is certainly better than nothing, but this is why it is incomplete.
The 20-30 minutes on cardio are good. On the elliptical or bike it is easy on the joints and provides some heart healthy exercise. But often it is done the same way over and over for years the same way. Not only is this boring but it does not introduce a novel stimulus to force the heart and lungs to get stronger. But this is not the biggest issue because even walking regularly is great heart healthy exercise.
The weight training that focuses on the chest, shoulders and biceps is more about vanity and middle school, locker-room insecurity than anything else. The problem with these upper body exercises is that they are typically not balanced with the appropriate amount of scapular retraction that is necessary to keep from developing shoulders that are rotated improperly forward, impingement of the shoulder, and other functional deficiencies. The solution is to include the following exercises and their variations: bent over rows, seated cable rows, lat-pull downs and pull-ups. These pulling exercises need to be done with proper form, proper sets and reps relative to the pushing work.
Sit Ups are not terrible but they are a flexion exercise, and for most people today flexion is what we are doing all day long. As we sit in our chairs at our computer like I am right now, we typically sit with poor posture with a curved spine – sitting in flexion like a sit up. What we need is extension and the best exercise is the plank.
Finally, all of us tough, big, macho men avoid working our legs. Do you know why? Well, the excuse is "it hurts my knees," but the real reason is squatting, lunging and deadlifting are hard. Often the adult male knee hurts because they are not doing enough squatting, lunging and deadlifting to build strong supportive tendons and ligaments. We live on our feet and if we are going to maintain a truly functional body then we must be able to move in all planes of movement bending at the ankles, knees, hips and low back. The best way to develop the functional strength needed to do the simple things of life such as getting on and off a toilet, in and out of a car, on and off the floor, going up and down steps, kneeling or bending low, and balancing on a stool is to work our legs and work them in a full range of motion.
Men, if this describes your workout you need to make some changes. If you can make these changes on your own, great! If not it could be helpful to use a personal trainer for a short period of time. In the same way that we have all taken educational courses to equip ourselves for different aspects of life using a personal trainer for a short period of time, like taking a class, could be the best overall health investment you have ever made.