Men have an unfair advantage when it comes to fitness.
No, it is not the testosterone (as most urban millennials are short on it anyway). And it certainly is NOT lifestyle. Women, generally, put way more effort into their health and fitness than men. And they spend considerable time looking after their family’s health as well. Especially, their often reckless lifestyle boyfriends and husbands.
But, see that is where men generally have the advantage. Unless they are competitive body builders or male models, they don’t really care about hoisting too much weight, the flab around their guts, number of beer they drink or how many and Calories in a bacon burger and fries.
After training with both sexes for decades and plenty of research (in libraries as well as bars and restaurants), I have made some observations.
Diet. Offer most hard-working guys a choice of what to eat and they will scarf down hamburgers, chicken wings or steak before even looking at a doughnut, pastry, cake or chocolate. While some ladies are fretting over amounts of fat, sugar and calories, the males have no guilt with eating high protein dishes. (Pass the chicken wings!) Protein is good for you. It builds muscles, nerves and tissue and helps remove excess water. Let me repeat the last line: protein helps remove excess water. Carbohydrates will cause the body to hold FOUR times the amount of water that protein does. Eat at least 50 milligrams a day. One gram per day per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight for active people.
When it comes to exercise most guys have no hang ups over hoisting heavier weights or sweating. In the 1970’s, there was this belief that that heavier, intense workouts will give you big muscles. Pound for pound women tend to be stronger than men. They just do not have the hormones to develop big muscles. A good example of this is my buddy’s two fit, beautiful daughters who both cycle, ski, practise yoga, roller derby and rock climb. (One of them once tackled a thief at a video store.) They are not any where near “muscle bound.”
As for sweat, it is healthy, natural and good for your skin to release toxins. Many people use exercise bikes, tread mills or stair climbers at the lowest setting and never break a sweat or draw a deep breath. I have seen the same people doing the same minimal effort workouts for over two years. Maybe they have medical conditions. Then, again, maybe they are afraid of going past their comfort zone.
Working intensely, gets more results in less time and burns more fat during and after exercise. Huffing, puffing and sweating are good for you. (Pardon me. I just got corrected. Horses sweat, men perspire and women glow.) Besides, oxygen is (still) free and your body enjoys it.
Most important is the topic of self-image. If girls and ladies have not noticed, most guys, (including yours truly) are not perfectionists. Most guys can skip a workout or have a slice of cheese cake without hating themselves. It is not the end of the world if they do only 29 push ups instead of their usual 40 or 50. They do not make it a big deal. (Hey I can do more while watching the game.) They still think that they are the coolest dudes on the block, just for showing up. Many perfectionist gals, however, feel like total failures if they do not train every day and then some. Or shed that 1.25 pounds by next week.
(Conversely, high end fitness professionals, like Karen Hulse, cut themselves some slack and have cheat days for eating.)
It is often this “all or nothing” attitude that tends to work against high performance women (and men). So, take a lesson from the happy, fit guys. Train and eat for performance, instead of just cosmetics and the results will come.
Learn how to get fitter, leaner and stronger in Flat Gut After 50.