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It’s enough to drive you batty: A guy will grab his gut, announce it’s got to go, and— presto!—a month later, he’s a slim Jim. Meanwhile, you toil on the treadmill, shedding only sweat. What is it about a man’s approach that’s so successful? We found out, and like men themselves, it’s not that complicated. Steal their strategies and you’ll get firm in a flash, too. Watch out, boys!
By Tula Karras Photographs by Arthur Belebeau
like a guy
have a onetrack mind
Whether it’s for sex, sports or slimming, men tend to have laserlike focus. “They’re wired to concentrate on a single thing, whereas the female brain evolved to approach tasks from a wide perspective,” says Helen Fisher, Ph.D., a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University at New Brunswick, New Jersey. So a guy might decide to cut out beer or run sprints—that’s his big plan. Most women, however, try to multitask, vowing to nix dessert, go vegan, ban soda, halve portions, hit the gym at dawn…. No wonder we fail; it’s a chore reading that list! Instead, pick your worst diet habit (bingeing on bread?) and a challenging fitness goal (regular Spin classes?) and attack only those for four weeks. Already seems doable, right?
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It’s no shocker: Men worry less than we do about what random Joe Schmoes think of their body (aka social physique anxiety). You can’t simply decide to adopt a dude’s lack of self-consciousness, but flattering workout clothes can nudge your confidence enough that—like the XYs— you’re able to focus more on you: taking the class, lifting the weights or playing the sport that will get you fit.
Grunt, groan and sweat
Those Neanderthal noises you hear from the guy one treadmill over? They signal intensity, and he’s on to something: You burn more fat and tone muscles in less time with gasp-inducing cardio intervals—short, go-all-out stints interspersed with stretches at a slower pace—than with a steady-as-she-goes approach. Researchers at McMaster University noted that cyclists who did 15 minutes of interval training three times a week were as fit as those who biked at a moderate speed for an hour five days a week. Imagine how trim you’d be doing 30 minutes of intervals! See for yourself: Pepper your cardio with 30-second sprints, or sign up at Self.com/goal for access to fun plans. How do you know you’re pushing full-throttle? If you can talk, you’re not going hard enough; if you’re grunting, you’re there!
We are just as competitive as guys, but our ego isn’t as tied to how fast we run or what we bench-press. Maybe it should be! Ego is a powerful motivator. The next time you have an amazing workout, brag—even if to yourself. Or work out with a superfit friend and don’t let her out-exercise you.
Feed your ego
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Ditch the dinner drama
A guy sees pizza and thinks, Yum, pizza for dinner. We think, Uh-oh, pizza is my weakness, or, Ah, pizza will make me feel better, says Heidi Skolnik, former team nutritionist for the New York Giants. One study found that women binge eat more than men do. And when emotions, not your stomach or brain, drive choices, it’s a diet disaster. Treat food as fuel. Take bites because you’re hungry or need energy, not because of stress or boredom. Think about what your choices will do for your health and let yourself indulge occasionally, holding the guilt. (Pizza? Yum! Period.)
Start thinking of your gym’s weight room as the lose -weight room. Strength training, which only about 17 percent of women do, revs metabolism, torches calories and sculpts sexy muscles. It’s so effective, in fact, that you should put cardio on the back burner and make strength training 60 percent of your routine—no joke, says Holly Perkins, an ExerciseTV trainer in Los Angeles. Another dude to-do: Spend less time on machines and embrace free weights, especially barbells, which work more muscles. (Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to use them on the next page.) Remember that the muscle you’re gaining weighs more than the fat you’re losing; you may not drop pounds, but you’ll be smaller and firmer. You’ll also—yes, there’s more!—get a hit of self-esteem. Strength training increases body satisfaction, a study from the University of Houston reports.
Remember Rocky? The Italian Stallion didn’t worry about when or where he’d train or whether he’d win; he began boxing sides of beef. “Most men throw themselves into an exercise program without much planning; most women ask a lot of questions and overthink things, which can create excuses and lead you to put off starting,” says Tracie Rogers, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Arizona School of Health Sciences. Skip right to the action—and results! Why not lace up and go for a quick jog right now? Curious about CrossFit? Sign up for a class right now, and pay so you can’t talk your way out of it later. Your new mantra: Here today, pounds gone tomorrow!
Guys don’t usually munch on things like 100-calorie snack packs; research shows men are less likely to eat goods labeled diet or low-cal. And that’s fine because you get more nutrients and avoid sneaky saturated fat by fueling up on whole foods, which are also more psychologically filling, Skolnik says. Hungry? Reach for snacks such as nuts, turkey, cheese sticks, fruit and vegetables.
eat real Food
Care about your stats
Like us, a guy might use a celebrity’s ripped body as motivation to get to the gym. But what men tend to do, which many women don’t, is supplement their look-better goals with performance-based ones, Perkins says. In other words, although Roger Federer’s physique may be a long-term target, a guy will also set out to do 10 more squats than last week. Approaching a workout this way—naming specific performance goals rather than seeing your session only as a means to a tighter rear end—makes you more successful, says Mark Anshel, Ph.D., a professor of health and human performance at Middle Tennessee State University. Why? You are engaged and have something achievable to strive for
during each workout. And because goals constantly change, you get to revel in mini-successes over and over, versus waiting and waiting for the scale to budge. These benchmarks also push you to try harder in the moment, which translates to a harder body later. “When I move a woman’s mind-set away from the scale and challenge her to drop a minute from her mile time, she trains better,” says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. Put it into practice: Set a new goal before every workout, whether it’s raising the treadmill incline or knocking out an extra set. Outside the gym, find activities you’re passionate about mastering, like yoga. (Tomorrow, ace Crow pose!) This tactic can even work for your diet. Each a.m., choose an eating goal (an extra serving of veggies, water instead of soda), then make it happen.
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The trainer Gunnar Peterson, a The plan Do the indicated reps of
each move in succession; repeat the workout three times, three times per week on nonconsecutive days.
the list issue
to borrow from the boys
start with 20 lbs.
renowned personal trainer in Los Angeles, sculpts the bodies of macho men such as NFL star Tom Brady and NBA star Carmelo Anthony, plus sexy A-list ladies like Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez.
start with 45 lbs.
You’ll need A barbell. Gyms carry two types, fixed-weight barbells (the plates come preloaded) and adjustable barbells. To load weights on the latter, simply slip the plates onto the bar followed by a collar to hold them. Barbell newbies, start with the suggested weight for each move. If it’s too easy, add a plate to each side. Ready to raise the bar on your workout? Let’s lift!
works shoulders, abs, hips, butt Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes under barbell. Bend down, knees soft, and place hands on bar wider than shoulder-width apart. Stand and raise barbell to shoulder level, knees slightly bent, elbows bent and pointing to floor (as shown). Press barbell overhead, straightening legs. Lower bar to shoulder level, bending knees, for 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
works hamstrings, back, abs, hips, butt Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes under barbell. Bend at waist 90 degrees, knees soft, and place hands on bar wider than shoulder-width apart. Shift weight to heels and lift barbell, keeping back flat (as shown). Stand, bringing bar to thighs and pushing hips forward. Lower bar to ankles for 1 rep. Do 8 reps.
start with 30 lbs. start with 20 lbs.
start with 20 lbs.
works butt, abs, thighs, hamstrings Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes under barbell. To get in start position, follow directions for Shoulder Shaper, but after pressing overhead, lower bar behind neck and rest it on back of shoulders. Then squat (as shown). Rise to standing for 1 rep. Do 12 reps.
works back, shoulders, abs Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes under barbell. Bend down, knees soft, and place hands on bar 6 inches apart. Stand, bringing barbell to thigh level. Keeping knees soft, lift barbell up to collarbone, elbows up and out to sides (as shown). Lower barbell back to thigh level for 1 rep. Do 16 reps.
works abs, shoulders, arms Lie faceup on bench, feet flat on floor, holding barbell at chest with hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Press barbell straight up, then lower to chest for 1 rep. Do 9 reps. On 10th rep, hold arms extended and crunch until shoulders lift off bench (as shown). Lower to bench, keeping barbell up, for 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
PHOTOGRAPHeD AT CLAy HeALTH CLuB AND SPA IN NeW yORK CITy
Halle is in my gym, she does barbell squats,” Peterson says. Because a bar is easier to keep steady than dumbbells, you can lift to your full firming potential, toning and sizzling calories. A red-carpet figure will be yours!
Why a barbell? It’s a magic bullet for sculpting a sleek body.“When
Get the free mobile app at
sTep up To The bar!
Snap this icon to see a free video of the moves.
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be a bit studly
Whether they are driven by ego or healthy self-esteem, guys believe they’re doing great and rarely doubt their ability to succeed, even in the face of setbacks, says Robert Pennino, president of Terrier Tri coaching in New York City. “My female athletes become distraught or beat themselves up if they don’t notice results right away.” Ban that thinking! Keep telling yourself that not every day will be a winner but that you will win at weight loss. A chocolate overdose or skipped jog doesn’t mean failure—your next meal or sweat session is another chance to keep at it. We promise you’ll love your results at the finish line!
Styling, Lida Moore Musso; hair, Sarah Sibia for See Management; makeup, Joy Fennell for Dior Beauty; prop styling, Charlotte Malmlof. Moves: Hair, Kyra Dorman for ArtistsByTimothy Priano.com. See Get-It Guide. WIN! Omgirl capri pants ($62), cami ($46) and hoodie ($68). Go to Self.com.
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