The Dad-Bod epidemic is on the rise.
And while the temptation to embrace the belly and live the couch potato life may feel overwhelming at times, summer is just around the corner and this is the year to stop procrastinating and start making some headway on your fitness dreams. Fortunately, we're here to help. The world of fitness, nutrition, training and health may be daunting and a tad overwhelming at first, but we can assure you, it's definitely worth it in the long run!
We've put together our Top 6 Tips to help you get started, to make small, positive changes to your diet and lifestyle, reducing your risk of contracting the dreaded dad-bod-itis, and put you well on your way to both looking and feeling great.
1. Audit Your Nutrition
Does your diet suck?
If you're maintaining at least a moderate level of physical activity and the beer gut is growing, or if you're trying to put on some muscle and things just aren't going in your favour, your nutrition is most likely the culprit.
For a few days, input everything you consume into a calorie tracking app, such as MyFitnessPal. It may feel a bit strange at first, but give it a go. And when we say everything, we mean everything. Snacks, drinks, coffees, you name it. If you're consuming it, input it. What this will do, is give you an insight into where you might be going wrong. If you're consuming way too many calories for your activity level, or your macro nutritional ratios are way out of whack, this is going to make things clear and put you onto the right path.
Now that you know where the problem lies, move onto Tip 2...
2. Create Consistency In Your Diet
Sorry lads, but the "whatever I damn feel-like" dinners are out, and portion-controlled, planned meals are here to stay.
Nutrition is a battle for a lot of us, and it's hard to even know where to start. The easiest and quickest solution is to eliminate variables. Start by pre-planning your meals (or even preparing on a Sunday) for the week. A source of lean protein is a must, such as chicken breast or lean beef, combined with a carbohydrate source such as whole grain pasta or sweet potato, and some greens is a great starting point.
Diversify your protein sources to prevent things from getting old fast, and invest in some low sodium seasonings and low sugar sauces to make bland meals a thing of the past.
3. Sleep More
Wait, what?! You heard us. Get more ZZZ's every night to lose weight. And no, that is NOT a permission slip to skip the early morning workout in favour of a snooze fest. It means hit the hay earlier every night and get (at least) a full, restful 8 hours. Sleep is one of, if not the most crucial lifestyle components to a healthy body, healthy mind and staying in shape.
Once you dip into the 5-7 hour range which a lot of blokes do, your body starts to go haywire. Not only is your mental clarity going to suffer, but your recovery is going to hit a dead-end before you know it. If you're hitting the gym hard, you need to recover just as hard, and sleep is the most important time for your body to do so. Turn Netflix off, get to bed early and wake up feeling fantastic.
4. Drink More Water
And less soft drinks. You'd be surprised how many problems can be solved just by drinking more H2O. Seriously, it's an incredibly simple solution that reaps some fantastic results. Blokes need to drink at least 3 litres of fluids per day. And that's before exercise.
All fluids count towards this goal, but when you start introducing soft drinks, excessive amounts of fruit juices or other flavoured beverages, calories (in particular, sugar) start adding up fast. Hydration is absolutely vital to human health, and being sufficiently hydrated can quell hunger, provide energy, improve cognitive function and even improve fat metabolism.
5. Strength Training
There's lost of awesome ways to exercise and kick start your fitness journey. However, the most efficient, enjoyable and effective form of exercise for getting in shape is strength training. Most particularly, compound lifts. Focus your training on compound exercises - multi-joint movements which activate more than one muscle group at a time (as opposed to isolation exercises).
The best, go to "staple exercises" to construct your gym sessions around are the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press and Overhead Press. Other fantastic additions include Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups (or Lat Pulldowns to work up to these), Leg Press, Incline Chest Press and Bent Over Rows. Train smart, and if you can't get to the gym as often as you like, focus on full-body training sessions as opposed to body-part splits, blasting your entire body at least twice per week.
Say goodbye to hour-long gruelling jogs, and hello to High-Intensity Interval Training. H.I.I.T. revolves around short, intense bursts of exercise, followed by a resting or low-intensity recovery period.
H.I.I.T. has some amazing benefits on fat burning and cardiovascular conditioning, and the best part is that you can slog out a H.I.I.T. session in under 15 minutes, with more benefit than an hour of steady-state cardio training.
Try heading down to the park and doing some sprints, or jumping on the spin bike next time you're at the gym and working with 30 seconds hard, 60 seconds recovery to get started. Perform 4-5 intervals for your first session (don't forget to give 110% during your sprints!) and aim to increase the amount of intervals you perform each session, up to 8-10. You'll feel and look great before you know it!