Being a man is hard work. There is family and finances to juggle. There is waking early for work. There is a wife, mates and children pulling from every direction for a man’s attention. There are career and retirement decisions.
And then there is a man’s health. With 70 per cent of men overweight or obese, Australian men are neglecting their health, and it’s damaging our healthcare and the culture.
An Australian man in his 20s, all the way up to his late 40s and beyond, should be equipped with some physical ability – it’s part of being a man. It’s time for Aussie men to see if they can pass The Man Test:
1. Perform 20 push-ups
Forget the bench press and machine press, because the "drop and give me 20" test for every man is a good one. Push ups are a perfect exercise for chest and triceps strength while engaging the core, and a man can perform push-ups anywhere.
2. Perform 20 unassisted sit-ups
The "I just got off a six-week cruise belly" is holding men back. The pot belly/visceral fat and the weak abdominal muscles are a serious hindrance to overall health. Men should be able to perform 20 unassisted sit-ups to demonstrate some abdominal strength.
3. Run two kilometres in under 10 minutes
Running is and always will be important - every man should be able to run at a solid pace. It’s about heart health, and it’s about the ability to move one’s body in a manner for which it was designed. Two kilometres (12km/h on the treadmill) in under 10 minutes isn’t a sprint – it’s a solid jogging pace.
4. Perform five pull-ups
Pull-ups are king of the bodyweight movements, as they work a large number of muscles in the back, shoulders, and arms at the same time. Men should all be able to perform at least five. They are challenging, but if a man practices twice a week the lats will respond and strengthen.
5. Perform 40 bodyweight squats
One of the most functional exercises around is the squat. Why? Because men sit down and stand up all day. Squats engage the bum, quadriceps, and hamstrings, and the ability to perform 40 bodyweight squats (proper depth/range of motion) is a good test. Whether men are lifting heavy items or walking stairs, leg strength is important – it’s time for men to get serious about squats.
6. Avoid playing video games or childish apps on the phone for a week
This is less physical, but more about how men are spending their free time. No time to exercise? Please. Men are playing too many video games, watching too much TV, and spending too much time online. If a man’s proudest moment is when he slept outside in order to get the first iGadget, I suggest he grabs himself to make sure he’s got a pair. Spend one week with less TV, more exercise, and no childish apps or video games.
7. Control intake
All the exercise in the world can be negated by smoking, energy drinks, and processed food week in and week out. A real man makes positive decisions about his carb/protein intake, puts down the smokes, and has a relationship with alcohol that doesn’t affect his job, relationships or physical energy to have a productive day.
8. Fall within the healthy BMI/Waist to Height Ratio range
Whether a man likes his Body Mass Index (BMI) reading or not, it’s still a useful measurement tool that is statistically relevant. But if a man is anti-BMI because he’s built like a rugby player? Science now says Waist to Height Ratio is better than BMI. Male or female, one’s waist should be 50 per cent (or less) of one’s height. Men should fall into the healthy range of one of these indicators.
9. Rest seven hours per day
Sleep, rest, and recuperation is just as important for a man’s health and well-being as exercise. Men need sleep for cardio health, weight control, mood, memory, and more. When a man manages his time, time for sleep presents itself.
10. Feel good about your body
A man feeling good about his body is important. It affects confidence, ability, and a man’s sex life. To feel confident about a man’s body in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt … to feel good about his body and weight after a run in the sun … and to feel good about his body before engaging in intimacy – all these things are crucial in being a man.
Mick Shaw is the type of guy I consider a man. You shake Mick’s hand, and your whole body feels it. After spending 10 years in the Australian Special Forces, Mick is one of Australia’s top CrossFit trainers. I chatted with Mick about The Man Test, and his reply? "Too easy, mate – every man should be able to perform these items successfully."
So to the Aussie men out there, if The Man Test is one you can’t pass – it’s time to do something about it. If your car was broken, you’d fix it. Same goes with your house, TV and computer.
So, if your body is broken, it’s time to make some healthy changes. Commit to a healthy eating and exercise plan. Trust me, you’ll be a much better man for it.
Physically, what do you think makes a man? And can you (or your man) pass The Man Test?