4 Simple Steps to Becoming a Healthier Man

Six-pack abs. Who doesn't want them? It should come as little surprise that one of the most asked questions that personal trainers get from guys is: "How can I get six-pack abs fast?"

Sure, a flat stomach is great. But it does not indicate good health. Many individuals who have a thinner physique are naturally thin because of their genetic makeup. They burn fat quickly, while the bodies of others are slower at this.

Moreover, whether a man has six-pack abs or a flat stomach tells you nothing about his flexibility, cardiovascular health, strength, digestive system, immune system, respiratory system or central nervous system. In short, if you see a thin person, don't assume he or she is in shape.

So, if you are a man and you would like to be in shape, what goal should you seek to achieve besides the coveted washboard stomach? After working more than 17 years in the fitness industry and coaching a number of individuals on diet and other aspects of health, I can offer four simple steps:

First, when eating, eat like a man.

Second, when exercising, don't be delicate; explore and discover.

Third, keep your blood sugar levels stable.

And last but not least, pay attention to the balance between your carbohydrate and protein intake.

Step 1: Eat Like a Man

Don't eat like a woman if you are a man. Confused? The truth is, women have different dietary needs than men -- due, in part, to hormonal fluctuations that take place on monthly cycles and throughout life. Men also have less body fat than women do, and have more testosterone and lean muscle tissue, which burns more calories.

With this in mind, calories must be adjusted accordingly. For example, men will need more calories than women who have the same activity level. According to the Harris Benedict Formula, a 50-year-old woman who weighs 150 pounds and is 5 feet, 8 inches in height would have a daily caloric need (technically known as a basal metabolic rate, or BMR) of 1,385 calories. A man of the same age, weight and height has a BMR of 1,524 calories.

Step 2: Expand Your Training Horizons

There are many marathon runners, iron man participants, and adventure competitors who think they only need to push themselves mentally, only in their environment. But they forget about their proper form and strength. Yes, you might have a perfect inner shell -- in other words, your cardiovascular system. But your external shell -- your posture -- is faulty. And the same is true for a jogger or a walker.

It isn't enough to train only your inner shell. If you like to burn more calories and shape your body, you've got to pick up some weights or work with your own body weight as resistance. Here are a few suggestions to get you started if you have not strengthened your body through resistance training for more than two years:

1) Push up -- Place your hands on the floor. Activate your abdominals so your body and legs form a straight line. Bend your arms until your nose touches the floor. Push yourself back up into the starting position.

2) Pull up -- Find a playground with swings. Position yourself below the swing. Hold on with your hands on the outside. Pull yourself up toward the swing while bending your arms. Straighten your arms and repeat.

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