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Man's quest for health and fitness

Muscles look good in men, but these do not always indicate health or even fitness.

By Mayang Padilla

JUNE 2013

For triathlon coach Patrick Joson, people’s reason for bulking up is often “cosmetic—a personal [decision] for them, unless they’re training.”

Sometimes, however, bulking up means taking the wrong route—and sometimes going to extremes. Joson explains that the idea or goal is to be able to carry the weight or be agile. “I go for functional movement. If it’s within the lifestyle, which includes carrying a lot of weights—for example, the soldiers—then it’s okay.”

Overall balance

Symmetry and balance should also be found in training, he adds. “The body should progress based on the activity. At the end of the day, it’s about balance.” He said losing the equilibrium may cause injuries in persons. “It defeats the purpose … Is that still being healthy?”

Certain body parts would require keeping up if the person decides to, say, bulk up his chest. “The lower back, the abdominals all need to carry that.” Beyond the muscle building, some people also go for training and exercise for the sake of fitness. Sometimes it has to do with the mindset.

“Some people have twisted goals. Health is different from fitness. The latter is the capacity of the person to do a certain thing. Say, a person can be fit to do a 10-kilometer marathon, but he may not also be considered healthy,” he reveals.

Joson also sees the problem when people rush the results, which is why some use the wrong way of dieting, spend hours and hours in the gym to bulk up and then use the concept of a “cheat day.”

“Too fast, too soon, too many. We cram things. We like the instant effect,” he said. But being healthy and fit isn’t an instantaneously achieved result.

Myths, dispelled

Asked for examples of other myths in training, the triathlon coach immediately answers: “Carbohydrate loading,” or overindulging in carbohydrate-rich food before a running event. Some claim it boosts the endurance of athletes.

For Joson, though, one doesn’t need large amounts of food before a big event. “We can only store a limited amount of glycogen in our system. That’s why you need to refuel all throughout the event.” When one also does a workout, he or she uses glycogen—which is the primary source of energy for muscles.

A quick look at training and fitness websites describe other workout myths:

• Lifting weights can get one bulky. Again, it’s all about the balance. Time, the proper diet, and discipline can help build the bulk.

• Carbs can make one fat? While carbo loading can be a myth, the proper distribution of glycogen will make the workout better. Carbs are needed. A no-carbohydrate diet will make one weak.

• Cardio is the only workout needed. According to, “Weight training strengthens tendons and ligaments as well as creates good bone density. While cardio can help with bone density and is an essential part of keeping your heart strong, it doesn't keep your body in alignment and strengthen your key postural muscles.

• Working out can lead to pasma. – Some say that hitting the showers after working out can lead to pasma. Discussion boards and articles abound about pasma. People describe them as sweaty palms and even pain. But no one has really proven the concept of pasma. For anthropologists, it can be considered a “folk illness.”

Managing that adrenaline rush

So what does one do to become healthy and fit? Joson said there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about handling the physical stresses by way of recovery and nutrition.

According to, the body always reacts to stress. “This reaction helps us survive by running away from an attacking lion or fighting off a suitor interested in our mate. In modern times, we don’t have to worry about fighting off hungry predators, but we still receive that rush of adrenaline when we’re having a bad day at work, fighting with a loved one or even battling our way through traffic.”

When the body is in stress mode, the person goes into a state of “fight or flight,” the website goes on to say.

A stress type is the adrenaline rush. The website noted, “You can use this adrenaline rush to add a boost to your exercise and release your stress. This is something that bodybuilders do to take their workouts to the next level.”

To balance these stresses, Joson says there’s a need for recovery and nutrition. For some, recovery means relaxation, such as yoga. He claims it’s physically possible for a person to reach his peak twice a year. “For everything that you do, you can have that maximum potential.”

Still, the body needs to recover. The best way, he says, is sleeping. It’s during the resting phase that the body recovers from all those exercises. To add to the balance, there should be the right form of nutrition. “We are what we eat,” he said.

While some do cut down their food, the triathlon coach prefers “diet modification” rather than “restriction.”

Joson thinks it’s more sustainable for a man to add to the nutrients in his body.

At the end of the day, the end-goal really—especially for fathers—is to become healthy rather than being fit. “It’s about living a fruitful and long life,” he says.

Coach Patrick Joson outlines how to get started on an ideal fitness program in the June issue of HealthToday.

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