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The average person packs on about eight pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.  That nice fit body you worked so hard for last year is now covered in a layer of fat, rounding out your personality in the worst possible way.  But the first question to ask yourself is “Am I an average person?”  Hopefully the answer is a very firm “No!”

February may be a time you spend with someone special; perhaps you are not so lucky — yet.  Either way, it’s time to work on getting to look good naked, or nearly naked.  Those clothes you have used to hide your flaws during the winter are not much use on the beach, or in pretty much any active outdoor situation.

Different guys have different objectives – we don’t all want to look like the Incredible Hulk.  But whatever your ideal body, it will take work and planning.  The work is not only in the gym, or running, or swimming.  It also has to include a sensible diet that will support your fitness goal.

For many guys, the lack of realistic goal setting may be holding you back from the body you desire.  Ultimately a good plan of action involves setting a series of small achievable goals and monitoring your progress at each stage.  One time I decided that I needed to lift heavier weight to get bigger and stronger.  I set myself the goal of increasing my weight in each major exercise by five pounds each week.  At the end of three months I had doubled my weight on most lifts, which I certainly could not have done in one go.

Everyone needs something to motivate them when trying to reach a goal.  Maybe you want to be even more attractive to prospective partners, or to impress your partner.  Maybe you think it will be good for your health.  Whatever your reason may be, it should be genuine and important to you.  Something that will keep you going when the mountain seems just too high to climb.  Maybe you need a picture of a guy with perfect abs on the fridge door!  Whatever motivates you!

The lesson here is to stick to your goals and never stray from the game plan.  FOCUS!  Write down your goals.  Set yourself a series of small, realistic targets and a time frame to achieve them, like the five pounds a week example I gave you.

Don’t focus on what you weigh: muscle weighs twice as much as fat, so you can look slimmer without losing weight if you pack on muscle and lose body fat.  Instead check your progress in the mirror, or by the comments of your friends.

There are so many reasons for getting fit that you need to be clear why you are training.  Do you want to run faster?  Get stronger? Or get lean?  Each of these requires a different workout regime.

So let’s look at the fastest ways to change your body:

  1. I want to increase my speed
    The goal is to boost your body’s ability to process oxygen in a hurry.  First make sure that Health_excercise_copy1you warm up thoroughly.  Choose any form of cardio — rowing, cycling, swimming or running for a 30 minute session.  Do this two or three times a week.  If you also lift, give yourself a buffer day between the weights and speed work to give your legs time to recover.

 

  1. I want to get strong or build muscle
    For some of us building muscle is mostly about looking good shirtless !  But it’s also the key to better health and staying injury-free, especially as you approach middle years.Health_excercise_copy2You can achieve a lot with three basic exercises: bench press, dead lifts and weighted chin-ups.  Make sure that you use correct form on these: in particular, keep your back straight when doing dead lifts.  If you are not used to doing chin-ups, start without weight and add weight as the exercise becomes easier.  Do five sets of each exercise.  Start with weights that you can easily handle, and increase with each set.  Remember that good form gets results.  Too much weight just gets you injuries.
  1. I want to get lean
    For quick results you will need to combine weight training and cardio.  Try using a kettlebell.  Swing the bell up to a horizontal position (chin-high) a couple of times.  Carry the bell 10 Health_excercise_copy3yards, then perform a squat, holding the bell close to your chest.  Go back to the start and do four more swings.  Carry the bell to your squat station and do nine squats.  Continue, adding two swings each time and subtracting one squat, until you reach a final total of 20 swings and one squat.  NO BREAKS, just keep moving. Do this at least 2-3 times a week.Before you start, take some pictures so that in a few months (or sooner) you can post before and after pictures on Facebook!  Those pictures will give you a massive sense of achievement.