Fitness: What Men Can Learn From Women (Part 1 of 2)

OlderBeast.com exists to serve 40+ men – with friendly, practical advice and occasional inspiration for lifelong fitness, nutrition, and the contribution to joy and fulfillment that these things bring.

But this post is about women: what we can learn from them in pursuit of our manly goals.

by

This is Part One of a two-part series. Part Two is here.

OlderBeast is based on the belief that 40+ men can and should “double down” on body-and-soul health, to maximize the 2nd half of life.

And man, here’s a powerful source of inspiration and practical example for this: Women.

I’ve been happily married for 24 years. I’m additionally blessed to have active, intelligent women across the generations of my family – mother, sister, daughter – and some great female friends. So in a general sense, my list of “what men can learn from women” would be quite long.

Within the narrower realm of fitness, nutrition and wellness, here are four things we men can learn from women.

1. Women don’t let competitiveness become counterproductive

In our society, “competitive” is usually a positive adjective (especially for the stereotypical “manly man” persona). Don’t get me wrong.  Striving to be the best we can be, challenging ourselves to improve…these “competitive” urges are great things. That’s what things like the OlderBeast 90-Day Push-up Challenge and the focus on fitness goals are all about.

But competitiveness can also have these two negative side-effects, which women avoid better than men:

  • Prevents you from even doing an activity. Because you’re not in shape for it, don’t know how to do it, or aren’t especially good/fast/strong at it.  This is a lot of what holds back men’s participation in – take your pick — swimming, running, yoga, strength training, interval training, etc.
  • Drives you to overdo. You run too far or too fast, stack too much weight onto the bar for squats, or don’t take enough rest days or intentional “easy” days.  This leads to injury or getting worn down.

This “overdo” risk and tendency especially has been a perpetual challenge for me.

2. Women focus more on overall-body fitness

They’re more likely to work key areas men often ignore: core, lower back, muscles that maintain posture and balance.

Frequent runners and cyclists are among the most at-risk for lack of overall-body conditioning. But many strength-training guys focus on the big “show” muscles, and thus under-attend to overall-body fitness, too.

male-and-female-muscle-anatomy

Women are much heavier participants in yoga, more likely to swim, and more likely to do “toning” multi-muscle exercises. These overall-body things complement other activities men tend to focus on. But we often restrict ourselves to our habitual workouts, and don’t do these complementary things.

Ever (maybe grudgingly) do some kind of “ladies” workout, and then feel sore in a bunch of unfamiliar places? That should be telling you something, dude.

3. Women are more comfortable seeking out and accepting help

When you’re over 40 and trying to take up new sports and workouts, you should want all the help you can get. Same if you’re trying to make sustainable changes in your diet and nutrition. So you should seek out friends, class instructors, trainers, coaches — even writers like yours truly — as sources of learning and support.

But for many men, it’s against-the-grain to act this way. This is perhaps most so for long-time participants in one or two fitness activities (e.g. running, lifting). They’re very strong and proficient in those activities, and thus reticent to be a “beginner” in something else.

Hesitancy to add new, diversifying activity into your fitness routine is a major enemy of overall fitness, man. You’ll do yourself a big favor by getting over this! And being willing to take a class or a lesson, or to even just ask for help and advice from someone you know, is a big part of getting over this hump.

4. Women focus more on diet and nutrition

Let me say this first: some of the reasons for this are NOT good…our society’s differential focus on the importance of appearance for females vs. males, and the various, serious negative effects of this.  I won’t at all attempt to tackle that huge topic here.

Focusing more narrowly on our what-men-can-learn angle…men will benefit from educating ourselves better, and findings ways to be more disciplined, about food.

Women often seem more curious about why and how food impacts our feelings of health, physical performance and (yes) appearance. They investigate more, learn more and experiment more.

Yeah, some guys with a female partner may protest “that’s because she’s the caretaker of the family and gatekeeper on what food we have in the house.” And I’d say back: “Exactly. And in addition to appreciating and thanking her for that role…shouldn’t you take some increased personal responsibility for what goes into your body?”

Take Action

I admit: I’ve painted with a broad brush in making the four “what men can learn” statements here.

But I think one or more of these is likely to apply to most of you. In my case, #1 (bad side effects of being too competitive) and #2 (not enough whole-body focus) have historically been challenges.

Improvements are in-process. I hope they are for you too, man. Take another look at the list above, and think: what changes could I make?

This is Part One of a two-part series. Part Two is here.

“That’s right, the women are smarter.” (Grateful Dead, Man Smart – Woman Smarter — click to listen)

 

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

You may also like

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Got Fitness & Health GOALS? You Should (and Here Are Mine).

Fitness in our 40’s, 50’s, 60s and beyond is more about long-term health, general vitality and happiness than it was earlier in life.

So, some cosmetic or vanity-driven objectives like pumping up the biceps or having a six-pack become less important.

But having said that, fitness GOALS are still critical for 40+ guys, probably more than ever. Why, what kind of goals, and how to use them? Let’s take a look.

article-image
Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Fitness as We Age: Five Lessons From the “Ground Game” in Football

I love football analogies, man. I probably use them too much. I ought to invoke the images of a symphony or a wild-flowered meadow more often.

But some football analogies just make sense to me at a visceral level. Especially this one: pursuing long-term body-and-soul health (at 40, 50, 60 and beyond) is like committing to the run as a football strategy.

When a team declares “we WILL run the football,” they commit to guiding principles like: Having a more-patient approach to victory – not trying to “win quickly”…Depending less on flashy or gimmicky approaches – what you see is mainly what you get…and Reducing costly mistakes – fumbles are less common and less damaging than interceptions.

Let’s consider what lessons this holds for the pursuit of decades-long fitness. I see five of them.

article-image
Nutrition & Recipes

Tracking Calories? Know These 5 Reasons They’re Not All Created Equal.

With nutrition, it seems like nothing’s ever simple. Take the relationship among calories consumed, calories burned and impact on your weight.

This seems simple: if calories-in are greater than calories-burned, then you gain weight. If “in” < “burned,” then you lose weight. But wait! This simple view is misleading…there are good calories and bad calories, and from the standpoint of managing your weight these are NOT equal. Let’s walk through the facts here and consider what it means for your quest to get (or stay) reasonably lean.

article-image
Philosophy & Motivation

Aging Guys’ Fitness Motivation Secret: Embrace the Connection to Joy & Meaning

At this time of year, as autumn deepens, challenges mount to our motivation for fitness and nutrition. Shorter, colder days. Impending snow and sleet (or even just the rain that daunts Californians). Scrambling to complete work-related things before The Holidays. And then Holidays themselves (I’ll have pumpkin and apple pie, thanks very much).

So right about now, we can all use a reminder about what motivates us to stay fit and vital. That’s why I want to reaffirm and expand on the biggest, most-positive motivation out there: thinking of fitness as a major enabler of Joy and Meaning in your life.

1 Comment
  1. Drew G 2 years ago
    Reply

    I shared this with my wife, and she certainly agreed! All kidding aside, this is good perspective — thanks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.