Top 10 tips for men to get healthy and build muscle

Published on: June 28, 2024
Man in gym dead lifting

Have you been wanting to get in shape? As summer time is now officially here, there’s no better time than to get started now. As the full famous Nike motto goes, “Yesterday you said tomorrow. Just do it.” Easier said than done. How do you get started?

We’ve put together this guide with 10 practical tips that you can follow to start on the road to your fitter, healthier and (often) happier body. Plus you’ll look great too! All it takes is discipline, motivation and the right balance of exercise, diet and recovery. Read on for our top 10 tips for men looking to get healthy and jacked.

1 – Set your schedule

The first thing you need to do is to set your schedule for the week. Plan out your training days in advance, the times you are going to work out, and what type of exercise you are going to do.

You should adjust the intensity and workload based on 1) how quickly you want results, and 2) your current fitness levels. Your body will tell you how it is reacting to the workload, so don’t be afraid to adjust the schedule from week-to-week. While the saying may be “No pain, no gain”, you need to ensure you don’t break your body going too hard too soon.

You should also take steps to keep yourself interested too. Boredom can be a bigger factor in failure than you might think. Adam Rosante, celebrity strength and nutrition coach, told Shape magazine; “Variety is the spice of fitness. One of the surest ways to hit a plateau is to do the same workout over and over.”

2 – Get disciplined

Discipline is the difference between a successful fitness journey and asking yourself “What if?”. Once you’ve set yourself a schedule, you need to stick to it. Personal trainers and fitness experts recommend you stick to your exercise routine for at least 12 weeks. 

That means following your program across those 12 weeks. Unless you get injured or your circumstances change, you should be sticking to the same routine. Otherwise you won’t get the consistency you need and are less likely to see the results you hope for.

3 – Compound exercises

When it comes to the type of exercise you want to do, you need to be looking at compound exercises to build the most muscle. This includes squats, dips, chin-ups, presses and rows. These types of exercise allow you to add more weight to increase the difficulty of the routine.

There are many different variations of these compound exercises that will focus on different parts of the muscle. Rotate amongst these variations to ensure you get the most development and don’t over-exert one part of the muscle over others – this can result in strain and injury.

4 – Balance weight versus volume

There is a tendency to believe that more reps equals more results. But for some exercises, it may be more beneficial to cut down on the number of reps you are doing and instead do a shorter set with a heavier weight. Pushing yourself harder with less reps provides more intensity, more strain on those muscles.

Genesis Health Clubs asked their experts their answer to this question, and their fitness trainers said; “Low reps with heavy weight tends to increase muscle mass, while high reps with light weight increases muscle endurance.” So if you want to get jacked, then more weight, less reps. But for general fitness, you may want to do the opposite. For a well-rounded fitness regime, a balance between the two is probably best.

5 – Work on your form

Form is important for a number of reasons. First, it ensures you are getting the most out of your exercise. Remember, the exercise you are doing has been designed by fitness experts to work a certain muscle group. Without the right form, you won’t be working that muscle correctly, missing out on the benefit of all the effort you are putting in.

RNT Fitness writes; “Your last rep and your first rep must look virtually the same from a technique and range of motion perspective with the only difference being the speed. The last rep should be substantially slower than the first.”

The second reason is that poor form can lead to injuries, especially if you are using heavier weights. If you aren’t doing the exercise correctly, you can put strain on ligaments, tendons and other muscles. An injury at any stage of your fitness journey will set you back, so it’s best to work to prevent avoidable injuries through poor form.

6 – Maximise tension

One thing you can do to make the most of your weight training is to use tension to your benefit. When you are at full extension in the exercise, you can feel the tension as you hold the position. That tension is when your muscle is working at its hardest. So getting into this tense state will benefit muscle development.

Men’s Health magazine in their muscle-building guide, write about using tension: “Instead of just lifting and lowering a weight, [experienced bodybuilders] lift with a specific tempo. They might curl up as fast as they can and then lower the weight for three focused seconds with good form on every rep. Doing this leaves your muscles under tension for longer than a typical set, in which you might lift and lower the weight without any specific timing.” 

More time under tension can help stimulate muscle growth. Just be careful not to put too much strain on your muscles that leaves you sore or injured.

7 – Don’t ignore aerobic exercises

If you are after general healthiness as well as getting jacked, then aerobic exercises must be included in your routine. Jogging or light runs can be a good exercise to factor into your schedule in between gym/weight-lifting sessions. It’s also often easier to find time for a run than for exercises that require specific equipment and space to do it in.

More intense aerobic exercise like crossfit or HIIT can be included too, and the body weight exercises they include will help with muscle development. Just ensure you aren’t tiring yourself out or neglecting the weight-lifting if you are focused on getting jacked. 

8 – Don’t skip rest days

Recovery is vital to any successful fitness regime. You need to suppress your desire to push too hard to get quick results and give your body time to recover across your workout schedule. This will help prevent you developing injuries, so set yourself some rest days and stick to them. 

Your body is likely to ache some days. If you are on a rest day, it’s fine to take a break. But if it’s one of your scheduled exercise days, then you should persevere and perhaps rotate the muscle group you are working on to give your body time to rest while ensuring you are working out.

9 – Ensure you eat enough protein

If you are on a big fitness kick, you’ll want to increase the amount of calories you are eating to help fuel the exercise you are doing. For muscle gain, you need to ensure you increase the amount of protein you are consuming.

Your body doesn’t just use protein for muscle growth and repair. Protein is used for creating enzymes and hormones, and your body will burn through a lot each day. So you’ll need to increase the amount of protein you are consuming if you want to develop your muscles in line with your exercising.

Men’s Health recommends 1 gram of protein for 1 pound of body weight. So if you weigh 120 pounds, you need at least 120g of protein. For the rest of your calories, get a good balance of fats and carbohydrates to provide you with the energy you need to exercise.

10 – Smart hydrate

Hydration is important for the health of your body, especially during exercise. You can maximise the benefit you get from hydrating by drinking a fitness shake that combines amino acids and carbohydrates. This increases the protein synthesis in your body, better facilitating the muscle development from your fitness routine.

While you can get the same benefit from eating protein heavy foods, liquids are absorbed in the body faster. Kevin Tipton, Ph.D., an exercise and nutrition researcher, told Men’s Health; “Since exercise increases blood flow to your working tissues, drinking a carbohydrate-protein mixture before your workout may lead to greater uptake of the amino acids in your muscles.”