I think many of you would rather have a colonoscopy than start an exercise program. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but for some of you, the idea of working out or getting physically fit conjures images of a high school gym coach with an ax to grind, or feral frat boys with an extra Y chromosome. And while the gym can be an intimidating environment for the uninitiated, especially for some members of the LGBTQ+ community, it doesn’t have to be that way.
On the other hand, maybe you bit the bullet and joined a gym. You’ve gone a few times but haven’t seen any results. You’re not sure what to do. You’re not sure if you’re doing it right. The music sucks. Everyone is staring at you. There are butt sweat marks on the seats and everyone else looks amazing. You duck out after 15 minutes.
Working out can (and should) be accessible to everyone regardless of your level of fitness and it can (and should) happen in a supportive, non-judgmental, environment where the novice is free to learn, ask questions, and make mistakes. This is the atmosphere I create for my personal training clients and you shouldn’t settle for less at your gym.
My purpose in writing this column is to help two types of people: 1) If you’re a beginner, I want to motivate you and help you navigate the fitness world and develop an exercise program that will help you achieve a personal best. Not everyone gets 6-pack abs. But everyone can feel better and look better (naked!) And you can do it with relatively little time and effort. One hour, twice a week, for twelve weeks will make a believer out of you. 2) If you’re already exercising, I want to help you tweak and fine tune your exercise program so you get the most out of your time and hit your goals sooner.
About nutrition: You’ll want to watch what you put in your mouth. Fitness includes good nutrition and no exercise program will overcome bad eating and drinking habits. (Random fact: A grilled chicken breast has about 220 calories. So does a vodka tonic). Consider this: A lightly active, 45 year old man, who is 5’10” tall and weighs 180 pounds, requires about 2300 calories a day to maintain that weight. By cutting just 500 calories a day, he’ll lose a pound a week. Making good choices about cutting and “spending” calories is crucial to any fitness program and is a determining factor when it comes to setting goals with reasonable expectations.
Over the next weeks and months, I want to talk about many different exercise topics, especially those important to LGBTQ+ readers, like fitness after 40, lifestyle choices and how they influence fitness, tips on tweaking your “ass and abs” (check out 5 minute abs video below), profiles on local success stories, and travel workouts in your hotel room. I’m open to suggestions so feel free to write me at hitchcockFitness "at" gmail.com with your questions.
Philip Hitchcock is an independent, Certified Personal Trainer specializing in “Fitness after 40,” Resistance Training and Weight Loss. Check out HitchcockFitness.com
The best time to start an exercise routine is today: Try this timesaver 30-45 minute full body workout. You’ll hit the major muscle groups of the back, chest, and legs by performing these three exercises, and you can do versions of each one right in your home. For each exercise perform 3 sets of 15 reps. Choose a weight that you can handle but has you struggling by the last 3 reps of the third set.
FLAT CHEST PRESS: You can do this with dumbbells, a free bar, or a chest press machine. Make sure your elbows don’t go beyond right angles when you lower the bar. (No gym? Try push ups. If you’re more advanced, do push ups with your feet on a chair). This exercise targets the muscles of the chest and triceps. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
DUMBBELL ROW: Using a bench, place your left knee and left hand on the bench and your right foot flat on the ground. Raise a dumbbell to your chest in a rowing motion and return it slowly to the start position. Repeat on the left side. (Try this at home on the edge of your bed or sofa and raise and lower a weighted gym bag or small suitcase.). This exercise targets the back muscles, biceps, and abs. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
DUMBBELL SQUATS: Hold a dumbbell of appropriate weight in the heels of both hands at chest level. Stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your hips. While keeping your back straight bend at the knees and lower yourself until your quads are parallel to the floor. Push up with your legs and squeeze the glutes hard at the top. (Just starting out? Perform this exercise without weights, clasping your hands at the start and dropping them to your side as you stand.) This exercise targets the legs and ass! Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.