Fitness Bucket List for Guys

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By Myatt Murphy, Fitness Reporter

The five fitness goals every man should try to reach

There are a few fitness goals that every guy knows he needs to achieve within his lifetime. Some are simply designed to boost a guy’s ego and give him something to brag about, while others are essential to helping him live a longer, healthier life. In no particular order, here are five of the top achievements every guy should try to accomplish — even if it’s just to say you did it once.

Bucket list item #1: Achieve a waist circumference of .80 or less

Why it’s important for men: First, measure the circumference of your waist at its narrowest spot. Next, measure the circumference around your hips and butt at its the widest spot. Finally, divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference. The higher it is over .80, the more belly fat you’re packing in your midsection, and, the higher your odds of developing heart disease.

Best ways to reach your goal: The key to losing weight wisely is eating only the amount of calories that your body requires, then doing some form of exercise that forces it to burn off excess body fat.

To start, take your current weight and subtract 10. Then multiply that new number by 12, and then againby 15. The two numbers you’re left with is the range of calories your body truly requires each day to maintain that bodyweight. For example, if you’re currently 210 pounds, you would subtract 10 from your bodyweight to get 200, then multiply 200 by 12 (to get 2,400) and 15 (to get 3,000). That would mean you should only consume between 2,400 to 3,000 calories each day.

With your diet in place, the next step is to add some form of aerobic activity into your schedule at least three times a week (up to five times a week) for at least 30 minutes each session. Afterwards, you’ll stick with this formula, but adjust it weekly by reweighing yourself, then take your ‘new’ current weight (which should be one or two pounds lighter), subtract it by ten and multiply it by 12 and 15 for a new, lower calorie range.

Pitfalls to avoid: Don’t drastically decrease the amount of calories you eat in an effort to drop weight faster. Reducing your caloric intake can cause your body to convert more of the calories you’re eating as unwanted body fat.

Bucket list item #2: Bench press 1.5 times your bodyweight for one rep

Why it’s important for men: It’s the granddaddy of all chest exercises, but more importantly, it’s the single exercise that every guy uses as the benchmark when it comes to where they rate strength-wise compared to other men.

Best ways to reach your goal: Bad form is the biggest reason most men never reach this fitness goal, but doing it the right way from the start can build a foundation of strength that can allow any guy to quickly add on the pounds.

To begin, lie face up on an exercise bench with knees bent, feet flat on floor. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar off the rack and hold it directly above your chest, arms straight and perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower the bar down to your chest, then forcefully push the bar back up until your arms are straight, elbows unlocked. Inhale as you lower the bar, then exhale as you press it back up into the start position.

Pitfalls to avoid: Keep your head, back, and butt touching the bench at all times. Arching your back positions your body to allow other muscles — particularly your triceps — to help lift the weight, which removes effort from your chest, while placing your lower back at less risk of strain.

Bucket list item #3: Do 10 pull-ups

Why it’s important for men: Pull-ups aren’t just ideal for letting a man demonstrate his overall strength, but they’re also one of the best back exercises out there. In addition to being one of the top five back exercises for building size and power, they also target your latissimus dorsi — the muscles that flare out along the sides of your body — helping a man achieve a more V-shaped symmetry that tapers his torso and creates the illusion of a narrower waistline.

Best ways to reach your goal: Just like the bench press, the main reason most men never achieve this goal is because they never do the exercise the right way from the very start. Here’s the best form to use: Grab the bar with a supinated grip (palms facing you), hands shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms straight, elbows unlocked. Pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar. Lower yourself back down into the start position and repeat.

If you’re not strong enough to do this exercise for the required number of repetitions, attach one end of a stretch band to the chin-up bar, let the other end hang down, then put one foot through the end of the band. This trick can help support a partial portion of your weight, so that you’re able to perform the exercise for the required number of repetitions without sacrificing your form.

TIP: If you’re heavy, the type of resistance bands you’ll find in stores may be too thin and not support as much of your weight. The strength bands that the pros swear by to support any sized guy are from Muscle Driver USA.

Pitfalls to avoid: Avoid jerking and twisting yourself up to reach the bar. The movement should always be steady and fluid, or else you could be compromising your neck, wrists and elbows.

Bucket list item #4: Sprint one mile in 6.5 minutes or less

Why it’s important for men: Have you ever seen a male sprinter that didn’t have a muscular physique? There’s a reason sprinters tend to not look as lean and lanky as their long-distance, marathon-racing male counterparts. That’s because traditional cardio does very little to elevate your metabolism and build muscle.

Sprinting on the other hand elevates your metabolism for a long amount of time, allowing your body to burn fat while helping it to add muscle fast. It also burns through stored glycogen much faster than sticking with a traditional long-duration, steady-state aerobic workout, causing your body to turn to stored fat as a fuel source a lot sooner.

Best ways to reach your goal: The best approach for building up sprinting speed and endurance is to break up your workouts into shorter distances with rest periods in between. This six-week plan is designed to be performed three times a week with one day rest in between each workout. After walking in place for five minutes to warm up your muscles, try this six-week routine. In between each and every sprint, you’ll rest no more than one full minute to keep your heart elevated.
Week 1: Sprint 20 yards x3; 40 yards x3; 60 yards x3
Week 2: Sprint 20 yards x2; 40 yards x2; 60 yards x2; 80 yards x2
Week 3: Sprint 20 yards x3; 40 yards x3; 60 yards x3; 80 yards x3
Week 4: Sprint 30 yards x2; 50 yards x2; 75 yards x2; 100 yards x2
Week 5: Sprint 30 yards x3; 50 yards x3; 75 yards x3; 100 yards x3
Week 6: Sprint 30 yards x2; 50 yards x4; 75 yards x4; 100 yards x3

At the start and end of the six-week program, try sprinting full out for seven minutes to measure how much you’ve improved your sprint time.

Pitfalls to avoid: Your body should always be in perfect alignment as you sprint. Your eyes should always stay focused ahead of you (never looking down at your feet) with your arms kept bent at a 90-degree angle at all times. With reach stroke, pump your fist towards the height of your chin, then pull your elbow back as far as you comfortably can to help propel you forward.

Bucket list item #5: Reach down and touch your toes

Why it’s important for men: Being able to bend over — or sit with your legs extended in front of you — and reach towards your feet and touch them may seem silly to some men. However, it’s having that kind of flexibility that can prevent unnecessary back pain caused from tight, stiff lower back muscles and hamstrings.

Best ways to reach your goal: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Concentrate on bending at the waist and reach your fingers towards your toes. As you go, roll your shoulders and back forward. At the bottom of the move, don’t bounce or strain to get your fingers to go lower. Instead, let your arms simply hang down, then concentrate on taking a few deep, relaxing breathes.

Pitfalls to avoid: Never stretch before warming up first. Instead, try jogging in place for three to five minutes before you stretch to bring blood into your muscles.

So what’s on your bucket list? Let us know if there are any fitness goals that you feel we missed. And maybe, we can show you how to accomplish your goal in a later post.


From Skinny to Spartacus

By Jill Yaworski


This year, give your body the ultimate fitness challenge

Two years ago we teamed with Starz to create the official Spartacus Workout. Its popularity surprised even us: Readers told us it was their favorite Men’s Health workout ever. So to kick off the new season of Spartacus: Vengeance, we asked Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.—the fat-loss expert who created the routine—to design an all-new version that’s even more intense, challenging, and effective. Like the original, the 2012 Spartacus Workout requires only a pair of dumbbells, a stopwatch, and, well, some serious grit. But try Cosgrove’s plan just once and you’ll quickly understand why it burns fat, sculpts muscle, and leads to fantastic results.

Directions: Do this workout 3 days a week. Perform the exercises—or “stations”—as a circuit, doing one movement after another. At each station, perform as many repetitions as you can in 40 seconds using perfect form. Rest for 20 seconds as you transition to the next exercise. After you’ve done all 10 exercises, catch your breath for 2 minutes. Then repeat the entire circuit two more times. If you find you can’t keep working for the entire 40 seconds, use a lighter weight. If you feel as if you could keep going hard for an additional 15 seconds, progress to a heavier weight.



Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a pair of dumbbells next to your shoulders, elbows bent, palms facing in [A]. Push your hips back and squat deeply [B]. Push back up, rotating your torso to the right and pivoting on your left foot as you press the dumbbell in your left hand above your shoulder [C]. Lower the weight and rotate back to center. Repeat, rotating to the left and pressing up the dumbbell in your right hand.



Assume a pushup position. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles [A]. Without allowing your lower-back posture to change, lift your left foot off the floor and move your left knee toward your chest [B]. Return to the starting position, and repeat with your right leg. That’s a mountain climber. Now do a pushup [C].



Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length at your sides [A]. Take a big step to your left and lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your left knee. As you lower your body, bend forward at your hips and try to touch the dumbbells to the floor [B]. (Note: Go only as low as you can without rounding your lower back.) Then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as you can. Perform arm curls [C]. Alternate back and forth, doing a lunge to your left and then a lunge to your right.



Start in a pushup position with a dumbbell on the floor next to your right hand. Lower your body into a plank so you’re resting your weight on your forearms instead of your palms [A]. “Walk” back up to a pushup position [B]. Without leaving this position, grasp the dumbbell with your left hand [C] and drag it underneath your chest until it rests on your left side [D]. Repeat, this time dragging the weight with your right hand.



Stand holding dumbbells at your sides [A]. Step forward with your left foot and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees [B]. In one motion, push back up and take a long step back with your left foot into a reverse lunge [C]. Keep shifting between forward and backward lunges with the same leg for 20 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.



Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell between your feet on the floor. Push your hips back, squat, and grab the dumbbell with one hand [A]. Pull the dumbbell up and “catch” it at shoulder height as you rise to a standing position; keep your knees slightly bent [B]. Pause, lower the dumbbell to the floor, grab it with your other hand [C], and repeat on the other side [D].



Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor and assume a pushup position with your hands on the dumbbells [A]. Pull the right dumbbell up to the side of your chest [B]. Pause, and then lower the dumbbell; repeat the move with your left arm [C]. While holding the dumbbells, quickly bring your legs toward your torso [D], and then jump up [E]. Once you land, squat and kick your legs back into a pushup.



Hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest, cupping one end of the dumbbell with both hands [A]. Keep your elbows pointed toward the floor and perform a squat [B]. Then push back up to the starting position [C]. Now step back with one leg—into a reverse lunge—and lower your body until your front knee is bent 90 degrees [D]. Pause, and then push up quickly. Alternate your lunging leg with each rep.



Sit holding a dumbbell in front of your chest. Lean your torso back slightly and raise your feet off the floor [A]. Without moving your torso, rotate the weight to your left [B] and then to your right [C]. Move back and forth quickly.



Stand with your knees slightly bent and hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length in front of your thighs [A]. Without rounding your lower back or changing the bend in your knees, bend at your hips and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor [B]. Without moving your torso, pull the dumbbells up to the sides of your chest [C]. Pause, and then lower the dumbbells. Raise your torso back to the starting position.

WHEN LIAM MCINTYRE AUDITIONED FOR THE television drama Spartacus: Vengeance, he couldn’t have looked less fit for the title role. He was fresh off a movie called Frozen Moments, playing a man who had awakened from a coma. Skinny made sense for that. For Spartacus? Not so much.

But McIntyre is a good actor, so the Starz network put him at the top of its list, with one major caveat: At go time, he’d better look the part of a rebel warrior.

So he set out to rebuild his musculature. “It was a combination of mental and physical effort,” he says. “The body can do incredible things as long as the mind supports it.”

We’re providing McIntyre’s fitness advice and our own Spartacus workout. Put them both to work, and when you reach go time—beach vacation, high school reunion, first date—you’ll be sure to look the part, too.

McIntyre wanted a body like Hugh Jackman’s in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It would have been a challenge anyway, but especially so given McIntyre’s 13-hour workdays. His strategy: Never miss a planned workout.

Make it work for you: Focus on the means, not the end. University of Iowa scientists found that people are more likely to stick with a weight-loss plan when they concentrate on specific actions instead of the desired result.

“Break your goal into habits that will help you achieve it,” says Rachel Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., co-owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. For example, you might set a goal of completing the 2012 Spartacus Workout 12 times a month. That’s just three workouts a week. But if you reach your 12-workout goal every month, by the end of the year you’ll have logged 144 high-intensity workouts. How many gut-busting workouts did you complete last year?

McIntyre had never been a gym rat before Spartacus. “I didn’t treat my body as well as I should have,” he says. But with his new role, he needed to perform intense weight workouts 4 days a week—every week, for months. Now McIntyre is stronger and fitter than he’s ever been. “When I look back at the photo the Spartacus producers took at the start, I think, ‘Oh, God,’ ” he says. “I didn’t realize how much weight I’d lost for Frozen Moments.” Which is a good reminder: Amazing results don’t happen overnight, but they do happen over time.

Make it work for you: Since you’re not likely to notice a change in the mirror right away, focus on what you can measure: Your performance. “You should be able to do more every workout; lift more weight, do more reps, add more sets,” says Cosgrove. “You can bet that if your numbers are improving, so is your body.”

“You can lift all the time,” says McIntyre, “but if you don’t eat the right foods, you won’t have the body you want.” The key ingredient for any diet is protein. It provides the nutrients you need for muscle growth and also keeps you satisfied between meals.

Make it work for you: To grow larger and speed fat loss, Alan Aragon, M.S., a nutritionist in Thousand Oaks, California, recommends eating 1 gram of protein per pound of your target weight. So if you want to weigh 180 pounds, you should eat 180 grams of protein a day.

But some guys say it’s too expensive; others say they feel like they have to force-feed themselves. So shoot for 0.7 gram of protein for every pound, says Aragon. It’s still a highly effective dose for your muscles. The only downside: You may find that you’re hungrier and more at risk of binge snacking.

McIntyre rarely goes to the gym alone. “There are tons of benefits to working out with someone else. You can do a better range of exercises if someone’s there to spot you,” he says. Plus, others push you outside your comfort zone. “They’ll yell at me when I’m not working hard enough, and compliment me when I am.”

Make it work for you: Find a workout partner or join a boot-camp class at a local gym, says BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., a leading boot-camp expert. “The more people we have training together, the more energy, sweat, and encouragement are in the room.”

McIntyre inherited his role as Spartacus from the actor Andy Whitfield, who recently passed away after a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “Andy was amazing at his job,” McIntyre says. “I want to do justice to the character he already created. I think of Andy and remind myself that no day is too hard.”

Make it work for you: Not in the mood for a sweat session? Keep moving for the people who can’t. Says Cosgrove, whose husband is a stage IV cancer survivor and the co-owner of their gym, “Put it in perspective. It’s not chemo. When you think about people fighting for their lives, it makes a workout seem like nothing.” Honor them by making yourself better. “We owe it to people like Andy to bring our best to everything we do,” says Cosgrove. “And that includes taking care of our health.”

Read more at Men’s Health, and here.