How To Improve Your Fitness - Step 1: Back Day
Fitness. Now this is a subject getting bounded around a lot nowadays and it can have so many different interpretations for different people. As a self-confessed fitness addict, to me it is not only about improving my physical wellbeing, but also mental wellbeing; both of which I believe are very important in day-to-day life. After the year or so we’ve all endured, perhaps now more than ever.
At this moment in time you’re possibly asking yourself ‘why on earth am I reading about fitness advice from a barber?’ but if there’s one thing we absolutely know from working in a barbershop, it’s that you can learn an awful lot about pretty much anything on any given day from open, honest conversations man-to-man. At Murdock we are so passionate about men having open discussions in our chairs and feeling comfortable being themselves. So taking the same approach I would if you were sat in my chair for a haircut, confessing that you’ve become slightly too familiar with the sofa during the pandemic, I’m going to shoot the breeze on why I’m so passionate about fitness and the importance it has come to play in my life. If I can nudge you to pick up a few healthier habits going forwards without piling on any pressure, I’ll be a happy man.
Fitness Tip: How To Approach The Gym
Now quick side note here before we get started, because I fully understand that even just the thought of approaching a gym is off-putting for so many guys, no matter how experienced you might be with workouts and fitness equipment. I used to feel so intimidated going into the gym - walking in at 16 and seeing these Hulk-like men lifting weights 10x heavier than me. No thanks! I would always end up not doing what I wanted because I would feel too embarrassed to try. Don’t allow this mindset to take over. Everyone is in that gym to better themselves and everyone has different journeys; yours may just be beginning and that’s more than okay. I understand how much of a mental knock the early stages can take and the confidence it can strip, but trust me when I tell you everyone respects everyone who sets foot in the gym. You are already winning just by turning up!
If any of the following workout names mean nothing to you, don’t worry. They are all relatively straightforward to pick up through YouTube tutorials and any gym instructor should be more than happy to assist to make sure you’re hitting each step right.
Confidence is key
I have written this as a gym-based workout, but don’t worry, this can all be adapted into a home workout if you are not entirely comfortable going to a gym straight away. All you will need is one set of changeable dumbbells, resistance bands and a door! (Shopping links are at the bottom.)
Why I Exercise
As a barber our job can be very strenuous on our bodies (ironic right - surely we’re only stood behind a chair most of the day?) But after eight hours of standing up and cutting away, it’s safe to say we can start to ache a little bit. One of the biggest problems as a barber and something I especially suffer with is chronic back pain. We find ourselves leaning in every-which different direction for beard trims, haircuts and most definitely wet shaves. We can do everything we can to try and keep a straight back but that doesn’t mean it still won’t hurt. One way I deal with this is through exercise. Exercise is a superb way of stretching out and ultimately not only bettering, but relaxing your body after a long day’s graft.
I think this is something that can benefit just about anyone who gives it a try, so I’m going to start things off by taking you through one of my favourite workouts, step-by-step… BACK DAY.
Back Day: Step 1 (Warming Up)
So after finishing up with my last client I get myself changed into workout wear and take a light jog down to King’s Cross from Soho. Now luckily for me this works out at bang on 3k which is always the distance I like to run. The reason I go this far is because it allows my body enough time to start burning fat, but it’s not too much that I could potentially overdo it and start burning muscle. I love going for a run every day because I feel like mentally I’m able to disconnect for 15/20 mins from the rest of the world to be alone with myself, earphones in, with no disturbance. I find this personally crucial for my mental health as it enables me to just push any bad energy out. I’m going to talk about this in greater detail further down the line, but for now… back to exercise! After hitting my cardio target, I jump on the train and head back to Kent. Once there I head straight to the gym to get going on my back.
Back Day: Step 2 (Arms)
Funnily enough I don’t focus directly on my back straight away because being totally honest, that would just finish me off there and then! To build a more balanced back workout, I start off by working my arms with 3x sets of 10 reps dumbbell curls then 3x sets of 10 hammer curls. This allows my body to get the blood flowing and warms my muscles up. I then hit 3x sets of 10 reps overhead dumbbell tricep extensions (sounds more complicated than it is) and that’s my arm warm-up done.
Back Day: Step 3 (Back)
Now it’s time to focus on my back. I hit the lower, mid and upper back across different workouts to really feel that complete burn. One session I like to do is as follows: 1. Overhand lat pull down - 3x 10 reps 2. Underhand lat pull down - 3x 10 reps 3. Close grip pull down - 3x 10 reps 4. Close grip machine row - 3x 10 reps 5. Wide grip machine row - 3x 10 reps This is just a starting point for you guys to see and hopefully feel inspired by. When you feel more confident with a workout, you will soon find that you can alter what you do and how you do it.
Back Day: Step 4 (Warming Down)
After hitting the main elements of my back workout I like to warm down, starting with my arms. I hit the bicep curl machine and do a nice low weight just to stretch my arms out so they don’t tense up later on. One thing I will say is when you’re in the gym, don’t rush it. Give yourself a good recovery break to take a breath and sip some water in between each set. A huge tip to also remember is not to overdo the weight. Don’t struggle to lift something you can’t whether you’re bulking or toning. It’s all about quality and quantity and such an avoidable injury will only set you back.
Back Day: Step 5 (Diet)
When I get home I’ll have my post workout meal. This usually includes chicken, rice and veg (a mix of broccoli, spinach and carrots). These are low in calories but give you the nutrition you need. Poached or scrambled eggs on brown bread is also a great option.
Back Day Complete!
I’ve been so keen to share my experience with fitness for a while now. This is for all those guys who were just like me. The guys who want to better themselves and gain an improved physique (which you will eventually reach!) but worry about making mistakes and perhaps haven’t felt confident enough to approach a gym. I want this to be an easy, accessible hub for guys to come to for fitness advice knowing they aren’t the only ones starting a new journey. So many of us aren’t 100% sure how to physically get up, get out and approach fitness and feel a natural lack in confidence towards it. I hope these personal articles can help to improve anyone’s body confidence and mental wellbeing. Exercise and fitness is so important and I’m hoping we can all start this journey together and push through together. Be sure to stay tuned for the next instalment: CHEST DAY.