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A smiling man makes a smoothie in his sunny kitchen while listening to music on headphones.

Get Moving for Men’s Health Month: How to Jumpstart Your Fitness Routine

Whether you prefer a low-impact workout like cycling or more strenuous activities like heavy weightlifting, successful fitness regimens call for solid foundations of nutrition, rest, and lifestyle choices to fuel and support our bodies through regular movement. With all of life’s demands, it can be easy to fall out of our healthy habits, or feel overwhelming to get started building them. 

But as we know, the benefits of embracing an active lifestyle are vast. Aside from the obvious, like building stronger muscles and maintaining a healthy weight, exercise can help repair brain cells, improve the appearance of skin, slow the aging process, and combat mental struggles like anxiety and depression. Regular workouts have even been linked to a better sex life

If you’ve been looking for ways to kick off a new fitness routine or breathe new life into one that’s gone stagnant, or aren’t seeing the results you’ve been hoping for from your current efforts, there’s no better time than Men’s Health Month to recommit to your well-being. 

Start With Your Goals in Mind  

What’s driving your fitness journey? Is there a certain weight you want to bench press or distance you want to run? Maybe you want to commit to getting 10,000 steps every day.   Whatever your personal fitness goals may be, getting clear them can contribute to longer-lasting change. According to Forbes, “Goal setting is a simple yet very powerful sport psychology tool.” It helps to improve commitment and track your performance. The United States Marine Corps recommends setting S.M.A.R.T goals for yourself (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) to help stay focused on your fitness journey, like the examples below: 

  • Walk for 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Bike for one hour once a week.
  • Go to the gym two times a week.
  • Lose 10 pounds in three months.
  • Run a 5K race in six months.

Remember to celebrate each of your personal goals as you reach them, and make the road to accomplishing them smoother by building healthy lifestyle habits. Your diet and nutrition are an excellent place to start. 

Nutrition is Key 

Why is nutrition important for fitness?

Adequate nutrition is critical to every function of our bodies and minds, and can help protect against illness and improve overall health. When it comes to physical exercise, getting the necessary nutrients to fuel your body through strenuous activity is absolutely imperative. Proper nutrition supports athletic performance, energy levels, and muscle gain as well as the restful sleep and recovery periods our bodies need to repair and rebuild. 

Are you getting enough of these essential men’s fitness nutrients?  

Protein

A necessity for muscle growth, protein also supports muscles through recovery, boosts metabolism, and can help prevent injury. If you’re looking for help with appetite control, protein can help you feel more satiated and energized for longer between mealtimes. 

Optimal time for intake: After your workout. Research supports that getting your protein shake or high-protein meal in before and after your workout has perks, but consuming it post-workout can be especially beneficial to muscle recovery.  

RDA: The recommended daily amount for men is generally around 56g, but those who exercise regularly require more. Aim for 1.1-1.5g per kilogram of your body weight daily, says the Mayo Clinic

Healthy Fats

Getting enough healthy fats like omega-3s can help support inflammation and healthy cell function, and in terms of fitness, can promote endurance and muscle activation. 

Optimal time for intake: Before your workout. Studies show that supplementing with Omega-3s prior to your workout can improve range of motion and help increase set repetitions at the weight bench. 

RDA: 1,600mg is recommended daily for men

Essential Vitamins

What are the best vitamins for working out? While all essential vitamins are crucial to our health and well-being, be sure you’re getting enough B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D to support your fitness goals. 

B vitamins can have an anti-fatigue effect, helping to support metabolism and improve physical activity, energy, and exercise performance. 

Optimal time for intake: Before your workout, to help prevent fatigue

RDA: The following amounts of B vitamins are recommended daily for men.

    • B1 (thiamine): 1.2 mg
    • B2 (riboflavin): 1.3 mg
    • B3 (niacin): 16 mg NE
    • B5 (pantothenic acid): 5 mg
    • B6 (pyridoxine): 1.3 mg
    • Biotin (B7): 30 mcg
    • Folate (B9): 400 mcg
    • B12 (cobalamin): 2.4 mcg

Vitamin C helps keep the immune system functioning properly, is important for connective tissue repair, and may decrease recovery time between workouts. 

Optimal time for intakeResearch supports taking vitamin C both before and after your workout to reduce pain and speed muscle recovery. 

RDA: 90 mg daily is recommended for men. 

Vitamin D is necessary for optimal muscle function and has been linked to increases in strength; jump height, velocity, and power; exercise capacity; and physical performance. It’s also crucial to the absorption of essential minerals like calcium.  

Optimal time for intake: Before your workout. Research has demonstrated that taking vitamin D pre-workout, along with calcium, can help aid muscles and response and protection of bones. 

RDA: 600 IU daily is recommended for men.

Essential Minerals 

Essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and zinc are beneficial for bone health, immunity, mood, and sleep quality. They also play a critical role in supporting muscles, oxygen transport, and cardiovascular function. 

Calcium is necessary for strong bones and joints, and to support healthy nerve functions and muscle contraction. Low levels of calcium are linked to muscle cramping and limited endurance and strength. 

Optimal time for intake: Before your workout, to support bones and muscles, along with vitamin D. 

RDA: 1,000 mg daily is recommended for men. Check out this calculator from the International Osteoporosis Foundation to make sure you’re getting enough. 

Magnesium is associated with energy, muscle strength, flexibility, sleep quality, and stress management. This mineral plays a key role in exercise performance as well as muscle recovery. 

Optimal time for intake: Post-workout or in the evening before bed, to support muscle recovery and sleep quality. 

RDA: 400-420 mg is recommended daily for men. 

Zinc aids in muscle growth abd post-workout tissue repair and recovery, but regular exercise can lead to low levels of available zinc in the body, linked to a decline in strength and output. 

Optimal time for intake: After your workout or before bed to help aid in recovery

RDA: 11 mg is recommended daily for men. 

Fiber

Dietary fiber helps the digestive tract to run smoothly and keeps us feeling full and satisfied after meals. This supports healthy weight maintenance and balanced gut health, which supports energy levels and output and has been linked to exercise benefits. 

Optimal time for intake: After your workout. High-fiber foods or supplements should be avoided pre-workout, as their digestive impacts could interfere with exercise. Taking fiber before post-workout meals is recommended, as it can help to prevent overeating. 

RDA: 38g is recommended daily for men. 

In addition to getting enough of the good things, solid nutrition for fitness also means limiting the not-so-helpful stuff.

Limit sugars and refined carbs

While carbohydrates are necessary for a balanced diet, refined carbohydrates have gone through a process that removes their nutritional value. The calories they provide are empty, and their consumption can lead to spikes in blood sugar and crashes in energy. Similarly, excess sugars can negatively impact heart and liver health and be easily turned into fat. Both sugars and refined carbs can lead to unnecessary weight gain, which can derail fitness goals. 

If you’re craving sweets: Try a post-workout superfood smoothie with a boost of amino-acid rich collagen to support recovery and healthy bones, joints, skin, hair, and nails. 

Limit alcohol intake

Love having a beer or cocktail after a hard workout? You’re not alone. And yet, alcoholic beverages can be both high in calories and a barrier to sufficient hydration. Hydration is crucial for joint impact, flexibility, speed, temperature regulation, endurance, and athletic performance. All the sweating you do during your gym sessions will likely leave your body dehydrated, and fluid replacement becomes more difficult when the diuretic effects of alcohol enter the mix. Dehydration can also increase recovery time, not to mention its negative impacts on sleep, mood, mental clarity, nutrient absorption, and organ function.

A number of beers (more than one, it appears) post-workout could potentially “undo” your efforts by hindering recovery, suppressing protein synthesis (which maintains and builds muscle), and adding almost as many calories as a 12-ounce steak, without the benefits. 

If you’re in the mood for a nightcap: Try mixing up a recovery-supporting mocktail, like this Antioxidant Bomb Mocktail

Nutritional needs can be highly individualized, so you may want to consider consulting with a Registered Dietitian (RD) or nutritionist to help establish the best plan for you. They can also help you to craft a fitness meal plan to help you meet your individual goals, and because it can be challenging to get all the nutrients you need from diet alone, they may recommend supporting your fitness journey with a high quality men’s supplement

Try Meal Prepping

Planning ahead can help to ensure your diet is packed with fitness-fueling nutrients and prevent you from reaching for quick, low-nutrition snacks and meals in a pinch. Plot out your weekly meals on the calendar, shop accordingly, and check out some of our favorite meal prep ideas below:  

What to eat before a workout

Try an easy, calcium, protein, and vitamin-packed breakfast:

Spinach & Mushroom Quiche

Get your omega-3s over lunch:

Easy Salmon Meal Prep Bowl

What to eat after a workout

Whip up this high-protein muscle builder for dinner: 

Hibachi Style Chicken Bowl with Veggies

Carry high protein post workout snacks to hold you over: 

Healthy, portable snacks

Strapped for time? Keep it simple with a nutritional meal delivery service, tailored to your unique preferences and needs. 

Personalize Your Workouts 

The best way to stick with your workouts? Make them fun! 

Research has found that, unsurprisingly, the more novel and enjoyable a workout, the more likely we are to stay continually engaged with exercise. Just because your buddies are into crossfit doesn’t mean it's your thing. Love the burn of the stairmaster? Go for it. Need a group class to keep your attention? Sign up! Making exercise social by pairing up for a workout has also been shown to increase levels of accountability and ultimately success. Be sure to aim for at least 150 minutes of activity per week for optimal health benefits.  

The bottom line is, your workouts should work for your life. Look for classes and routines that will fit your goals and schedule, and that you are most likely to enjoy. For more tips on how to make exercise fun, types of exercise routines, and guidance on how to make a workout plan to help you reach your goals, check out these resources:


  1. Download a free fitness app to set targets and track your performance. 
  2. Try a sample 7-day workout schedule to help you get started.  
  3. Gamify your workouts with a beginner fitness challenge.
  4. Check out a top fitness podcast for a dose of workout motivation.

Don’t Skip the Rest & Recovery 

The importance of supporting your body through post-workout recovery can’t be overstated. Just as we need activity and challenge to build and maintain our bodies, we need rest and down time to repair tissue and allow muscle growth. Aim for one to three rest days per week, between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and add recovery-supporting nutrients into your wellness regimen. 

Plus, don’t ignore pain and discomfort. Listen to your body, take it easy when you need to, and consider athletic recovery support to ease muscle soreness, aid tissue repair, and help with any swelling or bruising. 


Stay consistent, feed your body right, and remember that you can’t expect to see results overnight. A little planning, balanced nutrition, proper recovery, and a lot of personalization can go a long way toward achieving your fitness goals. Whether you head to the gym before or after work, start with small shifts like eating more protein, or optimize your nutrition with a men’s multivitamin, it’s your call. Your fitness, your health, your terms.

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