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Banish The Beer Gut: A Bloke's Guide To Getting In Shape

Celebrity personal trainers share their favourite fitness tips for guys.

02/09/2016 9:21 AM AEST | Updated September 2, 2016 15:14
Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Let it all hang out.

When it comes to the body areas men might feel most self-conscious about, three terms immediately spring to mind: beer guts, love handles and man boobs.

But apparently, according to celebrity personal trainer and fitness expert for the Australian Institute of Fitness, Cameron Byrnes, it's a different kind of issue that is most likely to send guys hurtling to the nearest gym.

"The biggest one is they can't see their old fella," Byrnes told The Huffington Post Australia. "That's one of the biggest things they worry about. It's that 'I can't see him, I just want to be able to see him' -- I hear it all the time. It's quite funny really."

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According to Byrnes, there are two culprits behind this: a build up of visceral fat and/or subcutaneous fat.

"One is around the organs [visceral fat] and one is that loose jelly fat out the front [subcutaneous fat], and all of it is diet-related," Byrnes said. " I always recommend that guys with a bigger belly have a look at their diet as the first thing they do.

"It doesn't matter what exercise they do, it's not going to shift that fat unless their diet is in order."

In terms of the changes that may need to be made, Byrnes recommends cutting down on portion sizes as well as "eradicating processed food, as there are chemicals in them which signal your fat stores to store more."

I think people overeat in most cases, even with health foods.Ricardo Riskalla

It's a sentiment echoed by Ricardo Riskalla, master personal trainer at RawFit.

"An unprocessed diet is paramount to achieving a perfect physique," he told The Huffington Post Australia. "I work with so many actors and models and diet is 90 percent of the journey.

"In terms of diet, the most important thing is to eat unprocessed foods. If you can afford organic, go for it. Then I would remove alcohol, added salt, sugars, and control the food quantity. I think people overeat in most cases, even with health foods."

While adding training will no doubt boost an individual's results, Byrnes said it was surprising how many men focus on certain exercises as a 'cure' to their beer bellies, without giving any thought to the food they put in their mouths every day.

"Most of them think they have to train and do sit ups," Byrnes said. "It's all about 'how many sit ups do I need to do to burn off my belly?' But you can really get amazing results just by changing your diet alone.

"They need to cut [the amount of food they eat] down, and they need to make it clean. Do that and your belly with go down within the week."

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First thing's first: have a look at what you're putting into your body.

Once you get your diet under control, then it's time to think about getting physical, but Byrnes insists an ideal training regime isn't as demanding as most people assume.

"To reduce the tummy, you want to burn off a bit of body fat, and to do that, you want to do steady cardio," Byrnes said.

"So long walks, getting on the bike or the cross trainer -- exercises where yo're moving and sweating but you're not breathing heavily. It's what I call the consistent factor. You want to pick exercises you can do every day without burning your body out.

"And that actually leads me to my next point. Do something every day, some sort of physical activity, even if it's just an hour's walk. To lose weight you don't have to train like a commando."

Funnily enough, it's this 'training like a commando' that Byrnes says he often sees in clients keen to lose some weight, only to find they burn out after a short period of time.

Ricardo Riskalla's fitness and exercise tips for problem areas:

Man boobs: Diet, push ups, bench press, swimming, running

Beer gut and love handles: Diet, diet, diet. No exercise can reduce beer gut. It is the diet and removal of added salt to the diet, processed sugars and alcohol.

Flabby arms: Diet, running, chin ups, push ups, triceps dips and more push ups!

"That's the thing with guys," Byrnes said. "Though I do love the alpha enthusiasm. It's all, 'if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it twice a day. I'm doing to enrol in all these boot camps, get a PT, take up boxing...', then they do those things and they annihilate themselves. They are sore and aching and after two weeks, they can't do it any more.

"So really, instead of that, it's better to just commit to moving every day. Work out or exercise or do some weights. It's all about consistency and what I call the lifestyle factor. Because you want this to fit into your lifestyle. You're not going to make it too hard for yourself. You're not going to impede your life too much.

"In fact, it's amazing, when I deal with a celebrity during a transformation, the gap between what they think they have to do and what they actually have to do. They'll say, 'no I want to do more,' and I'll say, 'no, you can't do more. Do what I ask you to do, and it will work,'."

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Sometimes the simplest things, such as a daily walk, can have the best results.

Both Byrnes and Riskalla also stress the importance of setting goals in order to help you stay on track.

"Always start with your end goal," Byrnes said. "Set a date and an end goal for that date. So with my clients, we'll always sit down and do something like, 'in the next X weeks, let's lose eight kilos,' and then we'll work backwards and figure out how to achieve that.

"We'll say, 'to do that, let's work out how much food you can eat', and from there, we'll also figure out how much exercise someone can fit into their week. We'll do a walk here, a body circuit there, something on Saturday morning, and we might decided to have Sunday off. But it helps to sit down with with a notepad and map out a broad structure of what your week needs to look like, and work out what you are going to do each day.

"Do men like doing this? No. Oh God, no. But it's so important to do."

With a calm mind you can think properly, create healthy targets, hang out with positive people and then exercise. That's the right order.

Riskalla also points out the benefits associated with calming techniques such as meditation.

"The best thing to get back on track is to calm the mind, he told HuffPost Australia. "Do a simple meditation such as breathing in and out for five minutes when waking up and the same at bed time. Then increase it until you can sustain it for 20 minutes.

"With a calm mind you can think properly, create healthy targets, hang out with positive people and then exercise. That's the right order. Miss the mind aspect and any change won't last. The best thing is that meditation doesn't need to be religious, it can be done anywhere and is free. How good is that?"

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