Guys often ask me “What do you do for cardio?”. They’re always shocked when I answer “Nothing”. Once in a while I go for a run around the block, and I enjoy taking walks, but I don’t do it to burn fat. I do it because it makes me feel good and it gets my blood pumping. I don’t feel the need to regularly do “aerobic” exercise, aka “cardio”. Why? Because I burn plenty of calories when I’m lifting weights. This is due to the fact that I lift hard, I don’t take long breaks to flex in the mirror or chit-chat, and I don’t waste time on the treadmill like a bored hamster in a cage.
Why is weight-lifting the best form of exercise for men who want to look like men?
- It burns more calories than aerobic exercise — The afterburn, or the increase in your metabolism from weight-training lasts considerably longer than the afterburn from aerobic exercise. Some studies have even seen metabolism boosted all the way into the next day, but this required an amount of exercise that I don’t recommend to beginners or amateurs, including myself. The catch is that you have to lift hard. Sitting on a machine and pushing out a few reps won’t burn calories or build muscle.
- It gives us the results we actually want — girls want to lose weight and be skinny. Men want to sculpt their bodies into something better.
- It boosts testosterone and growth hormone, giving you confidence and manliness.
- It makes you stand up straighter and generally feel like more of a man – what do you think boosts your confidence more, lifting more weight than you’ve ever lifted before, or putting in 90 minutes on the treadmill at a slightly higher speed than last week?
- It gives you strength that you can actually use in your everyday life — How often are you going to actually need to run several miles? In what post-apocalyptic universe will you not be able to just get into a car and get there in half the time? Lifting heavy objects, on the other hand, is something all men are expected to be able to do. My mom once got a frantic phone call from her lesbian friend Lynn. “I never thought I’d say this” she said, “but I need a man!” Had she undergone a sudden change in sexual orientation? No, she just needed to install her air-conditioner and couldn’t lift it herself.
By now, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, I’m sold. How do I start?”. A complete course in weight-training is beyond the scope of this blog post, but I can give you some basic principles to guide you as you learn:
- Good form (i.e. proper technique) — This means lifting and lowering the weight in a way that provides a maximum benefit to your muscles. When you look at it this way, why would anyone want to cheat and use poor form? You’re not competing against anyone but yourself, so when you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself. And you’re putting yourself at risk for an injury. Examples of cheating including swinging your body and using momentum to move the weight faster or using less than your full range of motion.
- Maximum effort = maximum results — when you’re starting out, you can get a lot of benefits just from putting in a little bit of effort. And it’s important not to use all your strength to do something you don’t know how to do. But in the long-term, if you want to get results, you’ve got to push yourself really really hard.
- Plan your work and work your plan — If you walk into the gym and wander around trying different exercises, you’ll waste your own precious time and you won’t get the same results as you will if you make a plan and stick to it. The time to research new exercises is when you’re at home. The only experimenting you should be doing while at the gym is finding out how much weight you can lift on a particular exercise.
- Work as many muscles per exercise as you can — When you use free-weights instead of machines, you exercise additional muscles to stabilize your body, promoting faster growth and burning more calories. Doing exercises that work the entire body, like the squat and the deadlift, are also ideal. And two arms is always better than one. Maximum effort = maximum benefit.
- Get plenty of rest — weight-lifting tears up your muscles. It’s while you’re resting that they grow back stronger.
- Warm-up — Always start by warming up. You don’t want to exercise cold muscles. Jog down to the gym if it’s less than 1.5 miles away, or step on the treadmill for five minutes to get your blood-pumping. Another great way to warm up is to jump rope. I like it because it requires more coordination than running on the treadmill, which, let’s face it, is a pretty brainless activity.
If you lift hard 2-3 times a week and eat right, you’ll burn enough calories and boost your overall metabolism to ensure steady fat loss, while building muscle. This is the way to get ripped, buff, shredded, cut, whatever you want to call it. It’s how to look better naked.
And it’s a lot easier than spending hours on the treadmill.