When you get out of the shower are you happy with what you see? Based on the title of this blog I’m obviously talking to the guys here. Although there may be a few wives that quickly answered for them before their husbands had a chance.
But seriously though are you happy with the way your body looks?
No sucking in your gut.
No standing sideways to the mirror.
No adjusting the dimmer switch to create the perfect lighting conditions where you look your best.
There are a number of things working against here and you can quickly see the difference a few decades can have on the male physique. From when we were teenagers and could eat anything any everything and burn off all this extra energy. To our twenties where we first heard the term ‘freshman ten’ or in some cases ‘twenty’. And later to our thirties where some of the cool styles and fashion trends don’t necessarily suit the body of the out-of-shape thirty something.
And now that I’m in my forties I see more and more people of this vintage looking more like their parents than their kids. We look less like our high school grad pictures and more like the old pictures of relatives we would smile at when looking through photo albums.
Why does this happen?
And more importantly, is there anything we can do about it?
Well to answer the first question would take more than a blog post unto itself. But the short answer is that we aren’t the young kids smiling back at us in those pictures from summer vacation 15 or 20 years ago.
We aren’t producing anywhere near the same amount of androgens as we did up until our early twenties. The levels of testosterone, DHEA, androstenedione (Mark Maguire) in our bodies is on the decline. This makes building and maintaining muscle mass that much harder.
Add to this the fact that we don’t bounce back from injuries as quickly or as completely as we did when we were younger. We see more scar tissue laid down after injury and sometimes our good old male ego tells us ‘to walk it off – you’ll be ok’. But it never really does get better, does it?
Lastly, our lives are vastly different from when we were in our teens and early twenties. Mortgages, leases, taxes, dependents weren’t common topics of discussion on a Friday night. Instead it was all about your friends, going out, having fun and being responsible for very little. It’s easy to see to how getting to the gym was a little easier back in those days.
So getting back to the second question, can we do anything about it the answer is ‘absolutely!.
First, recognize the trend and how bad things could get in a another 10-20 years. If you think your friends look different from high school until now realize this change accelerates that much more during the second half of our lives.
Second, don’t go back to what you once did. Many guys love telling the stories about ‘back in the day’ to recount how much they used to bench. And they incorrectly assume this was the best training program going which singularly resulted in the optimal physique they had as a teen or university student.
The truth is any high caloric diet combined with some type of overload resistance training program would generate comparable, and in many cases, better results. We now know better ways to train so don’t be drawn into thinking what you once did is still the best way.
Thirdly, when we were young we put all the emphasis on training and very little on nutrition. You need to reverse this approach. Not only because time and other responsibilities preclude you from going to the gym for 2 hour training sessions 4 times a week but also because there is a better return on investment if you focus on your nutrition.
Lastly, surround yourself with people who are where you want to be. The times in my life when I have been my strongest, healthiest and looked my best have been when I’ve trained with stronger people. A number of years ago I travelled with some Canadian track athletes doing a winter camp in Santa Barbara. Just being around top level athletes wanting the best influenced me to eat a little better. To train a little harder. To get a little more sleep.
Use these four tips to reverse the trend that is setting in to ensure that dad isn’t fat but looks a little more like the young, healthy, strong guy we knew a few years ago.