You know you ‘should’ exercise.
You’ve read the headlines that ‘sitting is the new smoking’. That exercise reduces cardiovascular risk factors.
But there is no longer obligatory exercise in this world we have created for ourselves. Ever since energy procurement and energy expenditure were uncoupled by technology, it has become easy to indulge in food without having to even move beforehand.
Not that you should try to out exercise your mouth. The vain hope that large doses of exercise will allow you to gorge on whatever you like is a strategy that will lead to injury, illness and burnout.
Having a doctor waggle a finger in your face, or a celebrity trying to sell their new exercise plan isn't going to help you much either.
Unless you really understand why movement is vital to living a fulfilling life, unless you grasp for yourself why your Masculinity will not peak without physical training, it is unlikely you will be inspired to move that carcass off the couch for long.
As a Man, you have inherited a physical legacy. You have been selected by the forces of nature, over eons, to be a physical specimen.
Just don't expect those genes to express themselves if the most physical your day gets is walking to the fridge for a cold beer.
The list of physiological benefits of exercising is interesting.
Improved cardiovascular function
Better brain function
Decreased adiposity (fat)
More muscle tissue
Stronger connective tissue and injury proofing
Increased insulin sensitivity
…and so on ad infinitum…
But think about this topic a little more deeply.
To really develop as a Man mentally and spiritually, you need a firm grasp of your physicality. Your brain won’t function optimally if it is swimming in an inflammatory soup pumped out by excess body fat, nor will it receive the blood and nutrients it needs if your vascular system is sluggish and poorly conditioned.
When lacking a healthy body and enquiring mind, the higher understanding of spirituality is ever harder to capture, and without this, Male ego is prone to degenerate from Alpha to narcissistic.
There are more carnal reasons behind culturing Masculine physicality also. Men will always be drawn to strength, power, feats of great endurance and skill. It gives us confidence amongst other Men to possess these characteristics, and we respect other Men who have them. Even in the absence of external pressures, Men are either drawn to compete or ally themselves with other Men who own a physical presence.
More carnal still is what happens when well developed physical Masculinity is encountered by females. Research shows that most females prefer a lean and muscular male. A balance between the strength conferred by muscle mass and the stamina of lean athleticism. It is no coincidence that the Men they lust after most, usually sport a well defined mid section. The hormonal environment set up by such a physique means sex is elevated to a whole new level. Further, when a man is psychologically confident in how he looks, his sexual performance will follow suite.
It is sadly a modern phenomenon, that some Men choose to belittle those Men who seek to culture physical prowess.
Before embarking on a push to empower yourself through exercise and embracing your Masculinity, machete these negative leeches out of your life (figuratively speaking!). Pouring scorn on someone for trying to better themselves physically is to reject Masculine virtues. It is to be complicit in trying to sentence someone to a mediocre life and an early grave. There is no place for these people in the positive culture you need to foster around you to succeed.
So your body, its health and fitness, underpin your life. Improving your physical function provides a foundation for improving every other aspect. It provides a vehicle through which you can interact with the world with increasing vibrance. Should that physical world ever turn on you, being able to look after yourself and your loved ones assertively, is an unwritten law of Manliness.
All in all, Masculinity and physicality are intimately intertwined.
So enough pontificating, lets get some grafting done then!
To optimise a masculine physique, assuming you have read and actioned the previous post on diet, you need a background of aerobic based movement, with an overlay of intense anaerobic work.
Granted, if you aspire to be a power lifter, you are going to need to eat more and lift more. Or if marathon running is your thing, you will have to reconcile with yourself that you’ll be doing more running! In future posts we will be dissecting specific goals, exercises, training methodologies, ways to challenge current paradigms, shortcuts to functional results and so on.
But despite the thousands of ways of strengthening and conditioning a Male, once again, it doesn't need to be overly complex, especially to start with. Spending lots of time moving and conditioning the aerobic system (Note, NOT exercising day in day out at near maximal heart rates for hours on end!) will provide great cardiovascular endurance and mental release.
On this note, why would you sit on a static bike in a gym to get some exercise? If that is really what you want, great, go for it. I am all for gyms. But the world is an amazing place. Get outside, enjoy the weather no matter how inclement. Savour some company and camaraderie. Condition your physiology to burn fat while doing something you enjoy. Move whenever the opportunity presents itself and revel in the fact you are lucky enough to possess a body capable of doing so. If there is a day goes by where you haven't moved in some form, at the very least go take a walk and stretch off.
“Flowing water rarely stagnates. Active hinges do not rust.” Ancient Chinese Proverb
Then add in some anaerobic work. High intensity sprints. Body weight resistance exercises. Heavy lifting. Whatever floats your boat. But grit your teeth, gird your loins and understand it will be tough. But brief. Then take plenty of time to recover.
Combine this simple formula for movement with a shrewd eating plan. You will be on the road to a physique that embodies masculinity. Empowers your mind. Breathes life into your spirit.
Some points of note to the enthusiastic reader who is lacing his running shoes or blasting out push ups right now.
Posture is key to many aspects of your health. Not only can it almost instantly change your hormone profile, and thus your mindset. It also provides the baseline from which your biomechanics work from. Before beginning a training plan, or increasing training volume, get yourself assessed by someone proficient in biomechanics.
It is far easier to prevent an injury by identifying faulty movement patterns, inherent weakness or restriction in range of motion, than to treat it once it has happened.
If nothing else, stand tall, keep your shoulder blades gently pulled back, and your stomach gently pulled in. You’ll instantly improve your physical potential and your mindset.
For the listless, the weak minded or the willing but lacking confidence. It is your life, and your choice, but you would not have read this far without at least some flicker of desire to exact change.
Consider this. The humble domesticated dog, is descended from the iconic wolf. The very creature chosen to symbolise the Alpha Masculine spirit of this blog.
No dog owner would argue that forcing a sedentary lifestyle on such an animal would be anything less than cruel. In fact, many breeds of dog will descend into states of depressive anxiety without a physical outlet. Ironically, dog owners slightly extend their life spans when considered against the general population, in part because they have to walk the dog. In recognising the need of this creature for movement and stimulation, they provide themselves with part of what they need to become more healthful.
Just don't think of yourself as a leashed domesticated animal. You can become like the Wolf. Primal and untamed. The genes are there, just waiting to be activated.
Take action, not tomorrow or next week. Today. Decide what you want to accomplish physically and go and make it happen.
When the body achieves, the mind believes!