Let’s face it, we live in a sedentary society. Technology allows us to get through most days with minimal physical effort. Most of us drive to work, sit at a desk, drive our kids to activities, sit and watch, then drive home, then sit on the couch, then go to bed. With few exceptions, that sums up our weekdays. When we’re really busy, our meals consist of fast food and snacking on whatever junk food is most conveniently obtained. We mean to eat better and move more, but who has the time?
Here’s the hard truth with which men have to come to grips: we have to make time. As I explained in a recent post, time will never magically appear; life is simply too busy. We have to take charge of our lives and devote time to training. Our grandfathers didn’t really have to do this. They worked in jobs requiring manual labor and spent far more time on their feet moving. Their wives made them food that was more nutritious than any fast food joint, and the portions that they ate were much smaller. As a result, they had less need to do physical training. Their daily lives made them stronger, leaner, and more mobile.
Research shows us that men in our day are weaker than ever. My generation is weaker than my father’s generation, which is weaker than my grandfather’s generation. Some of this is to be expected, as the enhanced automation of each generation reduces the overall necessity of being strong. Fewer and fewer of us are doing manual labor, and almost none of us are doing it in the same rugged manner that our grandfathers did. Such is the nature of technology, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But I am saying that it makes us weak, fat, and stiff, which is no way for a man to live.
But what should we be doing? Most men have no idea. They know they need to “get in shape”, but they really don’t know what that means or ought to mean for them. As a result, they typically take one of two paths: (1) they start jogging, or (2) they join a gym and start using the machines. These are both bad ideas, because these training modalities don’t fit the goals that the man should be pursuing. Everyone wants to know “what kind of workout should I do?”, but the more fundamental question is “what should be the goals for my body”. Once you know which goals you should pursue, you can then reverse engineer a workout that will achieve your goals.
Generally, men should have three primary goals for their training: to get strong, be mobile, and be lean/muscular. These goals may change if you’re training for a specific competition (a 10K race, a bodybuilding show, a bike race, etc.). But, aside from a temporary specific competition, men need to be strong, mobile, and muscular.
If you’ve read my eBook, Manhood and The Hero’s Journey, you know that I believe that being strong is a masculine virtue. Men should be strong. Simply put, being strong is never a disadvantage. The noted strength coach Mark Rippetoe put it this way: “strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general”. Strength helps you carry out your duties as a man. It helps you to provide for and protect your family. It gives you the confidence to deal with others and gives you a place of honor among others. Men have never esteemed weakness. Men may have esteemed a man who was weak, but only because some other attribute made up for his weakness. Even in those cases, the esteem would have been greater had the man been strong. So, one of the foundational goals for men when it comes to health and fitness is getting strong.
The wonderful thing about strength is that it can be trained. Speed and athleticism can be trained, but only at the margins; both are very difficult to improve in any significant way. However, anyone can get strong as long as they train. It will come easier to some than to others and some likely have a higher genetic potential for strength, but everyone responds to strength training. As a result, unless you are physically disabled, being weak is a choice. Period.
So getting strong is foundational goal. But there are two other goals that must be used as a counterbalance: mobility and body composition. There is little more pitiful than to look at aging strength athletes who did not value mobility. There is an abundant supply of former football players and powerlifters who can do no better than to hobble around and can’t lift their arms above their heads. Training for strength is necessary, but it will take a toll if you do not train your mobility. Your body will end up wrecked and unable to move. Strength isn’t worth much if it isn’t functional. So we have to train both.
Similarly, there is no shortage of former athletes who have failed to maintain their body composition. Most of us can empathize with them, as most of us have added far too many pounds through the years. As a result, we’re too squishy. Why does this matter? For two reasons. First, we have much more confidence when we feel good about our appearance. When we’re fat, we don’t approach life with the same swagger as when we’re lean and tight. That’s a fact. More importantly, carrying extra fat is unhealthy. Having high levels of body fat is connected to many of the major medical issues that men face (diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease). If we want to be the patriarchs who guide our families and leave a legacy of powerful manhood, we need to get our bodies in check so that we’re not at risk of a premature death or reduced capacity.
So, we need a training regimen that will get us strong, improve our mobility, and keep the fat off. Strong, lean, and mobile. Those are our goals. But how do we get there? That’s why I created The Man Strong Blueprint: A Beginner’s Guide to the Body You Need, an 85-page eBook that lays out a training regimen that will get you stronger, leaner, and more mobile. It also include a way of eating (I hate the word “diet”) that is flexible (no foods are prohibited) and sustainable (no unreasonable calorie restrictions) and that you can use for the rest of your life to lose fat, gain muscle, or simply maintain your physique.
The Man Strong Blueprint is what I’ve used to deadlift 440 pounds, squat 340 pounds, bench press 300 pounds, and overhead press my body weight, while carrying a visible six-pack all year long. As a father of four active kids, I can’t spend 10 hours a week in the gym, so my workouts are short and intense, but sustainable. Grab your copy of The Man Strong Blueprint today, and get on your path to becoming stronger, leaner, and more mobile.