Personal trainer Rusty Joiner knows what it's like to be a busy dad. As a fitness entrepreneur, husband, and father, he understands "there is a constant shift in how we allocate our time and energy. It is a delicate balance."
While keeping healthy and fit is important to Joiner, he's noticed over the years that for a number of men, adhering to a workout schedule is difficult as time progresses. In fact, for many men of a certain age, fitness is often the first thing that goes on the back burner when dealing with a busy schedule.
"I've spoken to a lot of guys over the years and it really seems like most of the men over 40 have thrown in the towel," he tells Organic Authority. "They've gained weight, they have injuries, they travel too much with work. They think those glory days have come and gone."
However, Joiner says, the key to anything we want to accomplish in life starts with a change in how we define good health.
"It's true we will never be 30 years old again. Our bodies do have injuries that flare up easily. We do have demanding work schedules. But we also have the ability to redefine what good health is and start a new journey of how we define that."
Which is why Joiner created the Mastering Men's Health program and wrote his recent book, Cover Model Abs: The Truth About Nutrition. In his book, Joiner discusses the framework necessary to help men master their personal nutrition and fitness goals.
Luckily for us, Joiner was able to share with us some of his must-do tips for men when it comes to eating healthy, exercising, and why it's so important to put your health first.
Where to Start
If it's been a while since you've hit the gym, Joiner suggests beginning your new wellness journey with a simple commitment to start something active, whether it's running, biking, or swimming a few times a week.
"Then incorporate resistance training a couple of times per week," he says. "Starting a new workout routine with a focus on good form is your number one priority—staying injury free should be the ultimate goal. With form, intensity, and consistency you can start on a new road to the best shape of your life."
He also recommends educating yourself and investing the time to learn how diet and exercise will "affect your health will contribute to that positive outcome you’re looking for." Joiner suggests reading literature on "things men over 40 need to start doing and more importantly the things we need to avoid: heart health, prostate health, skin health, and colon health."
Most importantly, Joiner says to remember that "you can get in the best shape of your life for the age that you are now. That starts with you believing in you."
How to Make the Time for Working Out
Time, or lack thereof, is the most common reason why most skip out on a workout.
To help stay consistent, Joiner says it's crucial to find a time in your day that works for you. "Waking up early and committing 20 minutes of your morning routine is one great option," he says. "This way you’re up before the rest of the family and you can spend that time on yourself."
Joiner says an easy way to keep yourself accountable is by scheduling it in your calendar. "Having this time blocked out on your calendar will be a great way to stay accountable. We do live in the tech age. Set up reminders on your phone or Apple Watch." He also recommends using a buddy system, which is he says, "still hold the highest form of accountability. Challenge your gym buddy to a goal-setting system. If you can’t get it done in the morning, schedule it during your lunch break, or after work."
His Go-To Exercises
Joiner says most men want to stay lean, so they focus too much on cardio, which only creates more stress on your body, especially as men age.
"This extended cardio allows your body to release a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol kicks your body into a life-saving mode and starts to hold on to fat," he says, adding that extended cardio also "adds too much stress to overworked joints, ligaments, and tendons."
This is why Joiner is a huge believer in increasing the intensity of your cardio more than increasing the duration of your cardio. "This is the reason why training styles, like HIIT and Tabata, are so effective," he says. "These training styles lend an intense approach to pushing your heart rate to the limit, but for a shorter duration of time. I like to use this approach for every endurance building cardio workout I do whether it's sprinting, stairs, biking, and boxing."
Joiner suggests trying this cardio workout: Hit 15-second intense rounds with a 15-second active rest. Then work up to 30-second intense cycle with a 30-second active rest.
Or, if you normally cycle and climb hills at level 15 try climbing at level 20 and then your rest cycle at level 15. Push through as many rounds of that as you can up to 25 minutes. You will get shredded."
What to Eat
Joiner says when it comes to eating, men should be eating less processed, and more organic food.
"Fast foods, sugar-packed sodas, and high carb snacks are literally killing us from the inside out," he says. "Men who train at the gym on a regular basis are often caught up in a major misconception: all calories are good. If I want big muscles, I need big calories—not true!"
Instead, Joiner recommends starting the day with some fiber-rich organic oatmeal with fruit. For lunch and dinner, think lean protein like salmon and chicken, along with lots of veggies, including spinach and tomatoes."
"The iron in spinach is perfect for your post workout afternoon snack, helping to rebuild the muscle-tissue that strength training tears down. Tomatoes, with just 35 calories and 40 percent of your daily vitamin C, plus a large dose of cancer-fighting lycopene, are one of the best vegetables you can eat," he says.
While starting a new health routine can be daunting at first, Joiner says it's well worth it for men, especially those with kids.
"By putting your health first you create a trickle of good habits. When your children are young, you want to be able to run and chase them around the house, throw a ball with them, dance, swim, jump rope with them," he says. "But without your health being a priority these moments become few and far between."
He adds, "If you want to get in the best shape of your life then put the same amount of intensity and fire from your fitness approach into being involved with your wife and your children and you will create something so powerful within you that there will be nothing you can’t do."