Friday, November 19, 2010


The secret to losing weight like a man: Work out like one. Pick up these gym lessons from the guys and watch the pounds melt away.

When a guy decides to get back in shape, it takes just a few gym sessions before he sprouts muscles Hulk-style beneath his t-shirt. At least that’s what it feels like to us as we women sweat through daily spin classes without seeing a shred of difference.

The solution: Man up, and take your workout to the next level. Mother Nature may have given men the advantage when it comes to muscle-building and weight loss-promoting testosterone levels, but don’t chalk it all up to biology. Guys hit the gym harder and more frequently than women, says Jennifer Widerstrom, NASM-C.P.T., who trains celebrities at Pulse Fitness Studios in Los Angeles. Plus, they’re typically better at setting aside time and making physical fitness a priority.

To tip the scales in your favor, try adopting these five fitness habits of the opposite sex as your own. These “guy behaviors” will help rev up your metabolism, burn more calories, and get rid of those love handles for good.
1.  Your Exercise Obsession

He: Beefs up only what he can see from waist up.
You: Are a leg curl away from fitting into your skinny jeans.

While guys load their workouts with exercises that’ll make their pecs pop, women tend to focus solely on ones that’ll get them a tight butt and toned legs, says Widerstrom. Men may overdo it in their single-minded quests for chiseled chests and rock-hard abs, but it pays to take a piece of this obsession. Focusing more attention to your abs will help you build a stronger core; mimicking his desire for big biceps will help get rid of arm flab. Plus, working your upper body will give you a sense of balance and proportion. Exercises that target your shoulders, back, and chest will help you stand taller and make your waist appear slimmer, so you’ll look more trim from head to toe.

2.  Your Cardio M.O.

He: Makes a mad dash and sprints mid-run.
You: Take it slow and steady for an hour.

Before you break out the celeb glossy and cycle on autopilot for an hour, consider adding intervals to your cardio session. “Guys include sprinting cardio in their program more often than women do,” observes Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and author of The IMPACT! Body Plan. “And women are missing out on all of the metabolism-boosting benefits.” Interval training—alternating between short bursts of intense activity and slower recovery periods—is one of the most efficient forms of exercise. Research shows that including as little as 10 minutes of interval training each time you work out helps increase your endurance and burns more calories than jogging at a more moderate clip. The takeaway: You’ll be out of the gym faster and see better results.

3.  Your Exercise Mindset

He: Will try to break his personal record if it’s the last thing he does.
You: Consider it a win if you’re on time to Pilates class.

Take a page from the boys’ book and put on your game face while you work out. “Men are better at tuning into the athlete within them, and they’re more likely to try new exercises,” says Widerstrom. “Women, on the other hand, often don’t give themselves credit for what they are capable of doing, and could really benefit from tapping into their competitive spirit.” Try tackling new a challenge by signing up for a boot camp class or a kettlebell workout. Instead of measuring your fitness success by the amount of time that you spend breaking a sweat, establish clear and measurable goals, such as improving your mile time or completing five chin-ups. Exercising with a partner or in a group can also motivate you to keep up with the Joneses in the gym.

4.  Your First Stop at the Gym

He: Hits the weight room to pump iron.
You: Pedal on the elliptical like there’s no tomorrow.

Look around any fitness center and you’ll see the weight and cardio rooms are as divided as a junior high dance. However, if you want to sculpt a tight and toned body, you’re going to have to venture off the treadmill. “One of the best exercise habits women could learn from men has got to be to lift heavy,” says Durkin. Women simply don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies to pack on large amounts of muscle that quickly, so picking up a barbell will help you get buff, not bulky. What’s more, lifting weights also helps fight against osteoporosis.

If you’re already enrolled in a resistance-training program, challenge yourself to increase your load. “If you can do 30 repetitions with a 15-pound weight, you’re probably wasting your time,” says Durkin. “You want to use a weight where you can do 8 to 15 repetitions, and really be challenged by the last 3 to 5 reps.” 

5.  Your Weekend Schedule

He: Brushes off the mounting laundry list of chores to get in a run.
You: Are never sitting on your bum, let alone have time to tone it.

Channel the male one-track mind when it comes to fitting in physical fitness. “Women, especially moms, have the tendency to put other things and people ahead of going to the gym, whereas men are far better at putting time aside for exercise and sticking to it,” says Widerstrom. However, your caretaking instincts can wind up inflicting major self-sabotage. It’s trite but true: You can’t take care of others if you don’t look after yourself first, so carve out a little “me-time” to boost energy and de-stress with regular physical activity. Treat exercise as you would any other commitment—pencil it into your planner and inform your family in advance that you have an appointment you can’t get out of. If that doesn’t work, get an exercise buddy or hire a trainer for a few sessions. Sometimes the knowledge that someone is depending on you is enough to prevent you from backing out.

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