When I was in high school, I didn’t have to worry about creating and sticking to a fitness routine. I had football coaches who took care of that for me. I just had to show up at the weight room at the designated time with the rest of my teammates and do the scheduled workout. Because of that consistency, along with a lot of hard work, I was in really good shape when I graduated and headed off to college.
With my football days behind me, I pretty much stopped working out once I arrived on campus. I’d play the occasional pick-up basketball game, but I didn’t have a set fitness routine to maintain the strength and conditioning I achieved while in high school. Boy, did things deteriorate quickly for me. I started to get soft and pudgy and my strength was nowhere near the levels I was used to. I remember one night during my freshman year in college I decided to go to the gym in an attempt to get back on track. I slapped 225 lbs on the bench barbell to start off. It was a weight I had easily lifted in high school. I lifted the barbell off the rack and began to slowly lower it to my chest…where it stayed until my cries of help were heard. Thankfully, only my ego was bruised. But that moment really spurred me to get back on the fitness bandwagon.
I’ve noticed that a lot of young men heading out on their own fall into the same trap I did. Sometimes they were physically active in high school because of sports, but as soon as they head off to college they stop exercising completely and quickly become the stereotypical fat ex-jock. Don’t let this happen to you! It’s harder to get back into shape once you’ve gotten flabby than it is to maintain the shape you’re already in. That’s why it’s so important you keep a regular exercise routine when you head out on your own.
If you didn’t exercise regularly in high school, without working out (and a healthy diet) you won’t become a fat ex-jock, you’ll just become fat. Plenty of guys who maintained an average weight in college find themselves growing a belly as they move into their mid and late 20s — a diet of fast food and plenty of beer takes its toll.
When I went with Kate to her ten year high school reunion, I was struck by the fact that while most of the women seemed to have maintained their figures (despite some of them having children), the dudes looked pretty out of shape and overweight.
The first few years living out on your own will a build a foundation for the rest of your life, so unless you want to become the middle-aged guy who gets all wheezy when playing with his kids, now is the time to establish a fitness routine for yourself.
Why You Need a Fitness Routine
Increases testosterone. Testosterone is what makes men, men. Unfortunately, most young men have lower testosterone than their grandfathers did because of changes in diet, activity levels, and chemicals in our environment, water, and food supply. The benefits of optimal testosterone levels are numerous. Besides increasing your libido, testosterone does the following:
- increases mental and physical energy
- boosts happiness (men with low-T often suffer depression)
- increases competitive drive
- helps prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia
- increases muscle size and strength
Compound weight lifting exercises like squats, bench press, cleans, and deadlifts are great testosterone boosters. High intensity exercises, like sprinting, have been shown to boost testosterone levels as well.