If you step foot into any gym in Britain - from Carlisle to Coventry - you will stumble across a variety of men, all with their very own reason for being there.
In the weights room there is the guy with chiseled arms and torso, comparable to a Greek god, who is simply there to maintain his perfectly-honed physique.
Step over to the exercise bikes and you will discover a gym newbie working hard to streamline a beer belly that’s been well and truly ‘all bought and paid for’.
Alongside the many other types of guys around, they are both sweating it out in the gym for one reason - to reach their own fitness goals.
So how is the average guy perceived by the professionals? How do they compare to women in the gym and are they really getting the most out of their workouts?
(which starts on June 13th), we asked two of our specialist Fitness First PTs to give us their insight into men’s fitness, and we’ve thrown some expert tips in for good measure.
Men’s health and stress
Sometimes, things can get on top of us. Whether it be a tough time at work, you and your partner have had one too many rows recently or you're having a bit of financial difficulty - it’s easy to become stressed.
Whilst it’s stereotypically traditional for blokes to not open up when it comes to their feelings and brush any problems under the carpet, the reality is that feeling stressed has the potential to become something more serious.
Many people find that exercise can work wonders when it comes to fighting stress. Research has shown that partaking in physical activity can have a positive effect upon the chemical balance within your brain - making you feel better.
Here are five tips to consider:
- “The only workout you’ll regret is the one you didn’t do” - This is a saying that often does the rounds, and it’s certainly a sound piece of advice. Even if you can only fit the gym in for 30 minutes today, this is better than doing nothing.
- Do something that you enjoy - It can be as simple as a game of 5-a-side after work, joining the gym or just a walk with the dog. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore.
- Set yourself a goal - Not everybody is cut out to run a marathon, but fitness goals are always scalable. Identify a target and work towards it. It’s amazing what a sense of achievement can do for your general mood.
- Join a fitness class - A lot of exercise classes are designed to help alleviate stress. Boxercise is a pretty good way to offload that tension you’ve built up through the day.
- Hit the weights - Strength training can release endorphins - otherwise known as “happy hormones”.
Are men and women treated differently?
Two very different species, granted, but do they need to be treated differently in the gym? Our experts think not.
, feels men and women need to follow the same principles to achieve their fitness aspirations.
“I don't treat men and women differently when training. In a general sense men and women should apply the same principles to training, heavy weights, a balanced diet, rest and some cardio.
“However, most women believe that cardio is the way to go and avoid heavy weights. Cardio is great for health but in terms of achieving an aesthetic look, fat loss and shaping your body, it's not the best option. To make real changes to body shape, weights are the way forward.”
When it boils down to it, it’s not really about the gender - it’s the individual - as Carly adds:
“I do a full consultation with all of my clients to understand their goals, lifestyle and preferences and design a training routine that's a best fit for them as an individual.
“There really is no one-size-fits-all. Gender rarely plays a part.”
Bravado and the pitfalls of trying to impress
Countless gents enter a gym wanting to lift heavier weights than their mates or that big guy in the corner - completely throwing form out the window in pursuit of a bigger dumbbell.
But is it just “bravado”?
, finds that if you’re inexperienced, training with a seasoned friend can actually be a major mistake:
“If the person you start to train with has bad habits, it’s very likely you’ll mirror this. Form is the most crucial aspect of weight training. Forget what your mate can lift - it’s about you and you only.”
Carly believes there is one definitive thing that let’s your average male gym-goer down.
“The one thing I notice about guys, especially in comparison to women, is that they very rarely ask questions. When women don’t know how to use equipment - they ask.
“Guys on the other hand think that they inherently know how to train without asking for professional advice. I constantly see the worst examples of form and some downright dangerous lifting techniques - purely because these men simply don’t know what they are doing.
“There really is no shame in asking, that’s why we are there.”
Should a man’s diet be different?
But on the flipside, have some men gone too far the other way and aren’t eating enough to fuel their workouts? Carly thinks so...
“Women tend to have a more emotional relationship with food whereas men view it more as something practical. Men however, are more likely to be able to stick to a designed nutrition plan than ladies.
“I think a lot of men underestimate their nutritional needs and eat too little protein. A lot of men also don't snack, which is not necessarily a good thing for fat loss or muscle gain, given that male bodies need more calories than a female’s.”
So what can guys do to get the most out of their diet? A few simple changes is what Carly suggests:
“A common complaint from men relates to fat in their abdominal area, which is largely down to diet.
“I'd suggest reducing consumption of simple carbs like white bread, pasta and cereal and limiting alcohol intake. Vitamins and minerals are just as important for men and women, so adding veg and salad to meals is not just for the ladies!”
A man’s guide to the gym - tips from the pros
’, we’re training harder and more often than ever.
So whether you’re an experienced gym enthusiast or a total novice, our PTs have given their ultimate guide to reaching your fitness targets.
For weight loss
Looking to lose weight? Ditch the booze, eat regularly and hit the free weights. You should be looking to eat around 5-6 balanced meals per day.
Plus, weight training is a hugely effective way of taking inches off your waistline - it’s not just for bodybuilders.
For building muscle
Always fuel your workout with the right nutrition. Eat the right amount of carbs, good fats and lean proteins to give you the best possible chance of success.
For endurance training
Add strength training to your workout if you’re heading for an Ironman or marathon competition - this will reduce the risk of injury, enhancing performance as you go.
Ensure that your nutrition pre, during and post-workout is substantial enough - never skip meals. These kinds of events are extremely demanding upon the human body, so food and hydration are essential.
General training frequency
It’s tempting to think that you’ll hit your fitness goals faster if you go to the gym every single day. This isn’t necessarily so.
Eddy in particular insists that many guys overdo it and don’t give their bodies enough time to rest and rebuild between workouts. Keep your training diverse (don’t do the same thing every time you hit the gym) and schedule a session every other day.
at your nearest Fitness First club.