Monday, April 04, 2011

Manscaping -- Show off your muscles

Written By Jessica Lothstein and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Manscape for Bigger (Looking) Muscles!

You wouldn’t keep a new car hidden away in the garage. You’d show it off, right? So why are you still hiding your hard-earned pecs and quads behind a bear suit? Have you not heard of body shaving and trimming -- aka manscaping?

“Hair really does hide muscles and obscure their definition,” says Cynthia James, a former professional bodybuilder and a judge at the International Federation of Body Building. “A hairless body is the only way to show off the details of your muscles and physique and reveal symmetry.”

The good news is you don’t have to invest in any new products to manscape for bigger-looking muscles -- the tools you use to groom your facial hair will do. In fact, all you need is an electric trimmer, a five-blade razor, shaving cream, a full-length mirror and a nice long shower.

“If you’re going to shave your body, you always need to prep it first with water and soap,” says Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, a clinical dermatologist and skin care expert in San Diego and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. “It softens the skin and hair so that you get the closest possible shave, and it helps prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs.” A good rule of thumb: Wait until the end of your shower before body shaving. But if you have the time, try soaking in a hot bath -- it’s much more effective at softening skin than is a shower.

Unlike your face, your body’s unique bulges and curves require individual attention. Here’s how to conquer them all.


Show off your: Pecs and abs

Manscape plan:

First off, if you’ve really got the goods (a well-defined chest and a 21-pack or whatever), you’ll want to lose all the hair (no need to keep the treasure trail when the real treasure is right there in view!).

As for your plan of attack, when it comes to chest hair, you want to shave with (not against) the grain of the hair. “Chest hair tends to be coarse and curly,” says Benabio, “and if you shave against the hair growth pattern, you could accidentally shave the hair beneath the surface, causing it to curl up under the skin” (read: ingrown hair).

One more thing: Mind the nipples. You might even want to put round adhesive bandages over them before you shave. Sure, they’re not the most manly of body parts, but fess up, you’d miss them if they were gone.


Show off your: Quads and calves

Manscape plan:

Take out most of the bulk first with an electric trimmer or grooming scissors before you try to tackle it with a razor. Then use long, smooth strokes in a downward motion and let the razor lightly glide across the surface -- using too much pressure can cause nicks and razor burn. Pay attention to curves and bony areas, like your knees and ankles, and adjust the direction of the razor accordingly.

“You shave your face every day, so you’re used to the contours,” says Benabio. “It’s like brushing your teeth, you get used to the routine. But when you’re shaving in new places, you have to be more careful.” One trick is to think of your razor as a paintbrush and use the same loose wrist motions that you would use when painting.


Show off your: Biceps and triceps

Manscape plan:

Shaving your arms is a lot like shaving your legs: Trim first with clippers before you pick up the razor, then use long, smooth downward strokes.

But the tricky part is figuring out where to stop and start. If your arm hair is light in color and not too dense, you can probably just shave from your shoulder to your elbow and leave the rest alone. On the other hand, if your arm hair is dark and thick, you’re better off shaving all the way down to your wrist for a more uniform look.


Show off your: Glutes

Manscape plan:

If you really want to show these off, then we’re assuming you’re going to be wearing something a little tighter and formfitting than surf trunks, so you’re going to have to manscape the hair back there (and down there, in the front groin area between your thighs). First, you’ll need to get a good view, and a full-length wall mirror usually isn’t enough. Instead, try squatting over a small mirror placed on the floor. Next, take your time. Women are experts at this, but men need a little practice. “The trick is to use lots of shaving cream, pull the skin taut, and shave using short, light strokes,” says Benabio. “And remember to rinse out the razor blade between every single stroke; a clogged razor will prevent you from getting the smoothest possible shave.”

Jessica Lothstein is a freelance writer and former editor at Best Life magazine. She writes on a range of subjects, including grooming and fashion.

How to identify your skin type and take care

Written By Greg Melville and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Know Your Skin Type

Looks are only skin-deep, you’re always told. So unless you want to wow women with your inner beauty, you’d better take good care of that skin. The trick, says Ellen Marmur -- author of the book Simple Skin Beauty and chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York -- is knowing how to do it properly.

Marmur recommends what she calls a PET strategy: protect, enhance and troubleshoot. Protect means to use sunscreen. Most men don’t, even though it dramatically reduces wrinkles and other effects of aging over the years. Enhance means use the right skin and shaving products. And to do that, you need to troubleshoot, or identify your unique skin care needs. We’ve enlisted the advice of Marmur and Valentina Chistova, a renowned aesthetician and owner of ABC Day Spa in New Jersey, to aid you in this part of the process. As for the inner-beauty part, you’re on your own.

Skin type: Dry

How to identify it: Your skin feels tight after you wash it. You may notice chapped splotches in spots, and it can appear dull from excess dead layers.

How to treat it: Apply moisturizer in the morning after you shave and at night before you go to bed, Chistova recommends. “In the evening, you can use a rich moisturizer, one that is specially noted for nighttime use,” she adds. You might also want to consider using cleansing milk instead of soap, as it removes fewer natural oils. You should probably refrain from using aftershave if you’ve got this skin type, says Marmur, since it tends to close pores and further dry your cheeks, chin and neck.

Skin type: Oily

How to identify it: Within thirty minutes of washing your face, your skin is already shiny. When you touch your face, you notice oily residue on your fingers. You also have a tendency to get blackheads.

How to treat it: Use one of the many gel facial cleansers designed specifically for oily skin. Also, says Chistova, after washing your face, apply a toner -- which cleans the skin and closes pores -- with a cotton ball. You still need to moisturize, but probably only once a day, in the evening. Marmur suggests experimenting with different aftershaves to find which one complements your skin the best and slows it from getting shiny during the day.

Skin type: Combination

How to identify it: Marmur calls this the most common skin condition among men. Your cheeks and forehead may be dry, but then shiny oil may build up along the T-zone (across the brow and down the nose).

How to treat it: Cater your approach to whichever area of the face you’re treating. Use the strategies best suited for oily skin on the T-zone, and the ones for dry skin on the cheeks and forehead. And, adds Marmur, apply sunscreen everywhere to prevent aging effects.

Skin type: Sensitive

How to identify it: Your face sunburns easily and is prone to redness, hives and bumps.

How to treat it: If you have this type of skin, you should seek a dermatologist or a skin-care professional for specific advice based upon your unique needs. But Chistova provides some simple, basic tips: Wash your face a couple of times a day at most, and use the most delicate soaps and facial products possible. Some brands make a face wash for sensitive skin, which would be far superior to a bar of soap.

Photo Credit:

Greg Melville is a former Men’s Journal editor and has written about grooming for several publications, including Men’s Health.

Belly-fat Solution for your stubborn belly

Written by Ethan Boldt and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

The Stubborn Belly-fat Solution

You've tried it all: cutting down the carbs, eating endless amounts of chicken breast, exercising like mad. So why are those infernal love handles -- not to mention that below-the-belly-button roll of fat -- still there?

In part, we (as in the fitness media) are to blame. There are hundreds of different ways to put muscle on the body, and these workouts are what fitness and muscle magazines love to feature; it sure beats snore-inducing cardio with another shot of someone running on the beach. But unless you want to look like a bodybuilder (and even those guys do plenty of cardio come cutting time), it’s time to step up the cardio. “You’ve got to train like an athlete to look like an athlete,” says Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Northeast Texas Community College.

In other words, 30 minutes of slow cardio a few times a week is not enough -- unless you’re happy with your current level of fat stores. If you want to access that fat, says Seabourne, you’ve got to do the right kind of cardio (intervals twice a week), the right kind of weight training (focusing on each muscle group twice a week), and long slow distance (LSD) cardio two to three times a week -- all while eating enough to support your metabolism.

Each form of exercise is essential if you really want to chisel your body down. You need LSD cardio because after your body burns through the glycogen in your muscles, it burns your fat stores next. And while interval training doesn’t burn as much fat during exercise, it burns more calories afterward -- just like strength training does.

Seabourne points out that some guys over-train on LSD cardio while eating too little and neglecting intervals or weights -- therefore slowing their metabolisms and holding on to that stubborn fat. Other guys do a lot of weights and short bouts of cardio, then eat tons of food in order to build muscle -- so their fat stores remain steady or even increase.

The following program was designed by Seabourne to give you the best of both worlds (i.e., recruit more than enough muscle while forcing those stubborn fat stores to surrender, at last).

Follow this program six weeks on and one week off, depending on your body’s ability to avoid over-training mode (in which gains come to a screeching halt while muscle soreness and overall fatigue increase). For some, three weeks may be all you can handle without a break. For others, 12 weeks works.

You probably have this covered, but here’s a guideline: Lose the bodybuilding program with all the isolation lifts and the absurd amount of exercise sets per body part (e.g., 15 sets of chest). Instead, go with upper-body on Monday and Thursday, then lower-body on Tuesday and Friday -- but only with about 20-30 minutes for each weight-training workout. Aim for two to three sets of two exercises for the major body parts (chest, shoulders, back, quadriceps and core) and two to three sets of one exercise for the smaller body parts (triceps, biceps, hamstrings and calves).

Interval Cardio
Complete two 20- to 30-minute bouts of cardio per week. Always start with a warm-up and end with a cooldown. Examples include:

On a heavy bag: Three minutes of effort + one-minute recoveries
On a stationary cycle: 10 cycles of 15-second sprints + 45-second recoveries
On a treadmill or outside on a grass field: 10 cycles of 10-second sprints + 50-second recoveries

LSD Cardio
Because of the length of each session (60 to 90 minutes), Seabourne’s preference for LSD is nonimpact. “For some, impact LSD, like jogging, can cause unhelpful muscle breakdown -- whereas cycling will not,” he explains.

An LSD cycling, elliptical or stair-climbing program can begin with an hour. Add two minutes a week until you’re moving for 90 minutes. Any more than 90 minutes and you'll need a snack to replenish glycogen stores.