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Fit and Healthy Men: Wellness Tips From the Pros

Train like a professional footballer.

Build Muscle continued...

Rubin recommends gradually increasing your weight and reps each week for three weeks until you reach your limit. Then back off with lighter weights and lower reps during the fourth week to give your body a chance to recover.

Building lean muscle doesn't just happen in the gym. It also happens on your plate. If you eat nothing but fast food, the empty calories will bulk you up, not build muscle. "You can lift all the weights in the world, but if you're not putting the right fuel in your body, that muscle mass is not going to come," says Gabriele.

To build lean muscle, get most of your calories from lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and good carbs like brown rice and whole-grain bread.

Boost Endurance

Chances are you're not going to have to do as much sprinting, squatting, tackling, and throwing as an NFL player. But everyone could stand to improve their endurance, and one of the best ways to do it is with interval training.

Gabriele recommends pedaling hard on the bike for 30-second sprints, alternated with slower 60-second rides. Do three of these sprint sets to start, and then work your way up to more. If you don't like the bike, you can run sprints on the treadmill instead.

Get Lean

To burn fat, incorporate some kind of aerobic training into your routine. Running on the treadmill or track or riding the elliptical is a great way to do it.

Alternate aerobics with compound strength training, like squatting with barbells. Working several muscle groups at a time will keep your metabolism high, Griffin says.

Rubin also uses medicine ball drills for conditioning, where players throw the ball against a wall for 200 reps or more. "It's great for core training, it's great for total body conditioning, and it's great for your heart," he says.

Watch Your Form

Trainers know a benched NFL player can cost his team a big game, even the Super Bowl, so their focus is on injury prevention.

"The main goal for football players when I train them is to keep them injury-free," says Livingstone. "If NFL players are injured, they can't stay on the field, and they can't play."

Even if you're not a pro, injury prevention should be one of your top priorities.

You can avoid getting hurt by learning how to train the right way. "The first thing that people should do is get an assessment from a qualified trainer," Gabriele says. Have a certified trainer test you for flexibility, mobility, and strength and design a program that works best for your body.

Then you need to work on form. "When I walk into a commercial gym and I see people working out, I know many of them are not aware that their poor exercise technique will eventually lead to injury," Gabriele says. Have your trainer watch you while you lift to make sure you're using the proper techniques.

Don't overdo it. As you incorporate these NFL pro tips into your workout, do them at your own pace. Rubin says, "A lot of people think that you have to push it to the limit every time. I disagree with that. That's how you end up getting hurt." Tailor your training program to your body, lifestyle, and goals. Start off easy, and only increase the weight and intensity when you feel ready.

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Reviewed on February 05, 2013

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