Don’t have those Hollywood-excellent genes and certainly don’t have a spare 6 hours per day? Don’t couch your workout dreams. You can still find workout programs for men that will get you results. The key is to do your research properly, be smart, and be efficient. You can start your foundation here with How to Lose Weight Without a Gym Membership.
Below are targeted workout programs for men and some overall must-dos for all men looking to improve their strength and their health.
First of all, if you can afford to invest in an expert, do it. Unless you’ve studied exercise physiology and anatomy and have hundreds of hours working with bodies, you’re going in a bit blind. Also, most people tend to perform at a higher level for a trainer than they would for themselves or someone on the television. Just make sure you’re shelling out the big bucks for an actual expert; several reputable certifications on top of a basic national personal training certificate should be your trainer’s minimum education level.
Second of all, keep in mind that no matter what you really want esthetically, you need to train your whole body. If you don’t train your whole body, you won’t get results as fast because of over-focusing on one muscle group or because of potential injury. Ever seen those guys at the gym busting out 50 pull-ups but then jumping down and almost tipping over on under-developed calves? Don’t be that guy. That guy also puts himself at risk for injury because those over-developed latissimus dorsi muscles put undo stress on less developed shoulder muscles. Just one snap and that guy is sidelined for weeks.
Thirdly, but probably most importantly, address your nutrition. Dialing in your nutrition will get you the quickest change in energy levels and your body. It is the building block of your workout program. If you are brand new to nutrition, you should definitely take Nutrition For Beginners. More advanced eaters and athletes should up their game with Pregame and Halftime Nutrition for Athletes.
Now, the workouts. These are 45 minute suggested workouts. Specific repetition and weight amounts should and will vary. If you are new to working out or very out of shape, take it slow and do what you can until you can complete the entire workout in 45 minutes.
Suggested Warm-Up – 10 minutes
- Core activation: BirdDog – on all fours, knees directly under hips and wrists directly under shoulders, lift right arm and left leg so they are parallel to your body. Keep your hips level! Hold to a slow 10 count. Lower and stabilize, then lift left arm and right leg. Repeat two more times on each side.
- Shoulder Opening: grab 5 ft. pvc pipe or very light body bar. In a wide stance (feet wider than hip-width), hold bar overhead with straight arms. Arms should be as wide as legs (wrists over ankles). Shrug shoulders up to ears and bring bar behind you. Keep arms straight at all times. Bring bar back up and in front of you. If you experience any pain in your shoulders, widen your grip. Shrug back up and behind you. Repeat 10 more times fairly slowly.
- Air squats – 15 to 20. Learning to squat the correct way is extremely important! Take Learning The Proper Way To Squat to get this important movement down pat.
- 25 yard “high knees” run. Alternate with walking high front kicks. Four of each.
If Your Primary Goal Is: Upper Body Strength
Warm up: 10 minutes
Cycle one: 12 Spiderman/Spartan push-ups (push-ups with your hands together in a diamond instead of wider towards your shoulders), 10 pull ups or supported pull ups, and 10 biceps curls on each arm with a dumbell so you can isolate each bicep.
Cardio Break: Tabata sprints on treadmill at at least 5% incline. 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off is a good place to start. Make sure you are comfortable jumping off and on a moving treadmill before getting up to speed – you definitely don’t want to be that guy.
Circuit two: single arm cable row, arnold press (with dumbell that you rotate from chest), single arm dumbell press leaning on stability ball
Final Cardio Burn: 1,000 meter row
If Your Primary Goal Is: Lower Body Strength
Warm up: 10 minutes
Cycle One: 12 reverse squats with or without added weight, 10 dead bug abdominals, 10 deadlifts (also a very important exercise to learn – you also need to know very specifically how much weight to start with to avoid back or hamstring injuries. How To Deadlift). Repeat cycle two more times.
Cardio break: 60 seconds of mountain climbers
Cycle Two: 15 kettle bell swings, 10 supported pull-ups, 10 sumo-squats using kettle bell, 60 second plank hold. Repeat cycle one more time.
Final Cardio Burn: 50 squat jumps or until fail
Stretch: 10 minutes, focusing on quads, hamstrings, and hips.
If Your Primary Goal Is: Core Strength
Warm up: 10 minutes
Cycle One: 12 TRX pikes, 12 TRX Ys, 30 side-to-side medicine ball touches from seated position. Repeat cycle two more times.
Cardio break: 30 ball slams
Cycle Two: 10 woodchops each side, 10 hanging knee tucks, 20 rotating lunges with medicine ball (keep ball extended out with straight arms, rotating to the opposite side with each lunge). Repeat cycle two more times.
Final Cardio Burn: 60 second low (on elbows) to high (on hands) planks, one arm at a time keeping hips level and still.
If Your Primary Goal Is: Weight Loss
Warm up: 10 minutes
You need a lot of explosive movements in order to jumpstart weight loss. It’s highly recommended that you get some help here, at least for the first month or so.
Recommended weight loss workout programs for men may include: ladder exercises, battle ropes, tabata treadmill workouts, and lots and lots of cardio bursts. These are the kind of exercises that you need most if you’re overweight, but they are also the ones that suck most if you’re overweight – at least at first. Getting a coach to help you through those first weeks of sucking wind will ensure your success and make sure that none of your hard work is lost.
You will also need to pay special attention to your diet. It may be time to go Paleo. The Paleo Diet is a diet that consists of vegetables, nuts, meat, and fruits. It may provide the structure you need to get rid of processed food, eat plenty of protein, and still eat plenty of what you like (ie steak!). Getting Started With The Paleo Diet.
You Must Also Do Flexibility Work
All workout programs for men should include strength and flexibility training. Because no matter how buffed your arms get, if you can’t cross them in front of you, you still look like an idiot, and you certainly move like one. And again, stiff muscles that aren’t used to working in a group will pull and tear – it’s just a matter of time. Therefore more modern goal for men’s workout programs is strength and quality of movement.
Power yoga is a great option to supplement workout programs for men – it is challenging, athletic, and the heated room makes you feel less painfully stiff than you actually are. Just be careful not to push too hard.
Shoulders and hamstrings tend to be the tightest muscle groups for men, so choose a yoga class that targets these areas like Happy Hips and Hamstrings Yoga.
If you absolutely won’t make your way into a yoga class, you might not want to do a video if you’re not already familiar with yoga practice. Hands-on adjustments and verbal cues are so important, and to get those you must have an actual teacher looking at your body. Instead, work on the art of foam rolling. This Proper Technique course is a quick way to gain knowledge and foam roll each area correctly. The benefits to foam rolling are many: increased flexibility, it breaks down scar tissue, it breaks down stiff myofascial tissue so that your body can rebuild it, it alleviates muscle pain, and it prevents injury.
A great workout program for men is to do a workout like the ones outlined above two times a week with a cardio day two times a week, and one day of yoga or pilates. That gives you two days of rest, which you should take seriously as well. Rest days will help your muscles rebuild and cement your results. But if you really want flexibility and streamlined movement, do 30 minutes of foam rolling on one of your rest days. You will feel the difference and it will feel great.
Be smart and get it done!