As men age, especially if they have desk jobs, they may find their six-packs starting to look more like beer kegs. The problem with this is not just the aesthetic issue of how they look in bathing suits, but some serious health implications. Visceral fat, which accumulates around the abdomen, can double the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic medical conditions. Reducing body fat, as well as giving men a more toned appearance, can significantly improve their long-term health.
Firm and strengthen muscles by doing resistance exercises two or three nonconsecutive days each week. As men, due to the presence of testosterone, gain increased muscle size from strength training, lifting weights will produce visible results.
Choose weights you can lift no more than eight to 12 times with good form to improve muscle tone and strength. One set of each exercise is adequate for basic toning, although some men prefer to do three sets for increased fat burning or atheletic training.
Perform a group of eight to 10 exercises that work major muscle groups in pulling and pushing directions. A typical set of strength exercises includes bench press, seated row, machine or dumbbell fly, overhead press, lat pull-down, leg press or squat, leg curl, leg extension and stability ball ab exercises. Chest and shoulder exercises create an attractive V-shape in men, and abdominal exercises firm the problem area around the belly.
Reducing Body Fat Percentage
Small steps add up. Take the stairs rather than elevator, do chair exercises while on the phone or add two or three mini walking breaks to your work day.
Using light weights at high repetitions is not as effective for shaping and toning muscles as using moderate to heavy weights for fewer than 15 repetitions. High repetitions are recommended mainly for sports-specific muscular endurance training, not for general toning.
Consult your health-care provider before making major changes to your diet or workout plan.
Add a minimum of 150 minutes of cardio exercise a week to your workout routine to improve cardiovascular health, lose body fat and achieve a lean, toned look.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Men should eat approximately 2,500 calories a day to maintain their weight, and 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day to lose weight. Combining a moderate reduction in caloric intake with increased exercise to lose body fat makes muscles more visible.
Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has several types of adverse effects on the effectiveness of your toning program, including increased levels of stress hormones, increased tendency to accumulate visceral fat, the tendency to overeat to compensate for feeling tired and reduced ability to exercise.
- MayoClinic.com: Belly Fat in Men: Why Weight Loss Matters
- MayoClinic.com: People of Normal Weight With Belly Fat at Highest Death Risk, Mayo Clinic Study Finds
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle!
- National Institutes of Health: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- ExRx.net: Fat Loss & Weight Training Myths
- MayoClinic.com: What's Better for Strength Training — One Set or Multiple Sets?
- BodyBuilding.com: The Full-Body Workout for Extreme Fitness!
- BodyBuilding.com: Sleep: The Unsung Hero of Fat Loss
- National Health Service: What Should My Daily Intake of Calories Be?
Carol Poster began writing professionally in 1974. Her articles have appeared in "Outdoor Woman," "Paddler," "Ski Magazine," "Women's Sports & Fitness," "Dance News," "Show Business," "The Athenian," "PC Resource" and "Utah Holiday," among other publications. Poster holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri.