Monday, April 11, 2011

The best Water Sport workouts

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

Winning Water-sport Workouts

Sure, all board sports require quick reaction time. And you’ll need to get the hang of good balance before you can hang ten. But you’ll also need power and a good deal of stamina if you want to be a standout in the water. To get those, there are certain exercises you’ll need to do beforehand.
Whether you ride the surf on a long board or prefer to ride the waves behind a high-powered ski boat, just master this workout, and you’ll be chairman of the boards.

Exercise 1: Shoulder Carry

The training tool:
A heavy bag (aka punching bag) from the gym -- or a bag of mulch, sand or any other large object you can shoulder and walk/run with.

The move:
Find an open space (like a parking lot or driveway). Squat down, hoist the heavy bag (or bag of mulch, sand, etc.) onto one shoulder and simply walk forward 20 to 30 yards. Then, set the bag down, turn around, hoist it back up onto the opposite shoulder and return to your starting point. That’s one full rep. Go for six to 10 reps, resting just 30 seconds between reps. Add speed or weight when possible.

But why?

With traditional gym exercises, you typically lift, pump or press weights evenly on both sides of your body. (For example, when you do bicep curls, you lift a 25-pound dumbbell with your right arm while lifting another 25-pound dumbbell with your left arm). But when you’re board-sporting, waves don’t necessarily hit you evenly: At any given moment, you might have to deploy only the muscles on one side of your body to keep your balance on a surfboard. Doing this asymmetrically loaded exercise will help your core develop the ability to handle just about any wave the ocean throws at you while also increasing your stamina. Plus, this is a total body exercise -- meaning, you need less time to train than if you worked each muscle or muscle group individually.
Exercise 2: The Slosh-pipe Hold

The training tool:

For about $20, you can build your own top-notch training tool. Go to your local hardware store and pick up a 10-foot length of 4-inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe. Also get an end cap and a threaded cleanout. (If you don’t know much about plumbing materials, just ask.) You’ll also need a small can of PVC adhesive to hold it all together.

The move:
By filling the pipe about one-third to half full with water (thanks to the threaded cleanout fitting, you can adjust the amount at will), you’ll have a total weight of roughly 40 to 50 pounds. Not a big deal when held vertically. The real trick is keeping it level when cradling it horizontally, across the front of your chest, with both arms while standing. As soon as you think you’ve mastered the simple standing-hold described above, try breaking into your board/ski stance and see what you’re made of. Build up to 12 to 15 reps up to a minute each (with a minute between attempts), and there ain’t a wave going to break you down.

But why?

With all that water flying back and forth over a 10-foot track of pipe, you won’t have time to wonder, “Are those my obliques or my rectus abdominis working?” The answer is you’re going to have to hang on with everything you’ve got from the ground up. The very nature of the pipe exercise (water sloshing back and forth unpredictably) means no two workouts will be the same -- forcing your body to adapt to the erratic forces of water nature. So when that rogue wave comes along, you’ll be able to react quickly and have the muscle power to do so.
Exercise 3: Renegade Row

The training tool:

You’ll need one dumbbell, a little bit of floor space and a whole lot of muscle.

The move:

If you’re familiar with the yoga-style “plank,” it’s like that (only much more manly with the addition of the row). With the dumbbell on the floor, get in the top position of a push-up with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width foot stance. Now grab the dumbbell with one hand and pull your elbow toward the ceiling, bringing the weight next to the bottom of your rib cage -- all while resisting the gravitationally motivated urge to twist, bend or contort your body toward the floor. Do two to three sets (per side), with eight to 12 reps. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

But why?

This routine challenges core strength and stability at a much higher intensity than any sit-up or crunch ever could. Core strength and stability, as you now know, are essential to maintaining balance on the boards and the planks!

Strike up a conversation with a girl who is a stranger

I see this cute girl at my coffee shop all the time. I want to talk to her, but can't think of anything to say that wouldn't be totally cheesy. How do you strike up a conversation with a total stranger?

Expert advise By Men’s Life Today Girl Panel and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

According to the Men’s Life Today Girl Panel™, there’s no tried-and-true pickup line that’ll score the attention of any girl, every time. And if you’re intent on going for a girl who frequents your turf, you definitely don’t want to blow it. So stack the deck in your favor by making your best bet on her type and aiming your strike accordingly. Here are five types of girls you might be pining for, with advice from in-the-flesh examples of each.
The Knockout: You know her when you see her -- and so does every other guy in the shop. Chances are she’s heard every line (at least twice before), so you’ll need something more than a “How you doin’?”
“Casually comment on something in the room (like a stranger’s crazy hair or the fact that we ordered the same drink) to immediately relate to me on the friend level. A more forward, brash approach is all too common and makes it easy to see a guy’s obvious sexual intentions.” -- Molly, 18
The Comedian: She just ordered a Trenta, straight up -- and asked the barista to make it a double, wink.
“Get in there and get personal with something witty like, ‘Is that your regular drink, [insert teasing name that totally calls me out for ordering it]?’ to show you can play my game and joke around. If I think you’re cute, this will definitely work. If not, better luck next time!” -- Samantha, 21

The Socialite: Gabbing away to the posse that surrounds her, she breaks only for breaths, laughs and sips of her light mocha frap.
“Say ‘Oh hey, you dropped this’ and give me your business card (or a napkin with your number).” -- Stacey, 24

The Shy Girl: She blushes as she bashfully accepts the espresso she’s been served without mention of the decaf herbal tea she’d actually ordered.
“The worst thing you can do -- besides using a ‘line’ -- is start off by complimenting my appearance. I’m way more impressed with a ‘Hey, my name is ___,’ maybe followed up with a remark about the situation or location, like, ‘I don’t know about you, but that barista always messes up my order’.” -- Michelle, 26

The Quirky Cutie: Headphones blaring, she’s nestled in her regular spot, rockin’ out to the beat of her own hums. She changes her order as often as her nail polish color (daily)
“Walk over and say something -- anything. But if you pull out any premeditated ‘lines,’ my fake radar will go off and I’ll resent you for ruining my private coffee/tea/music time. Just being yourself works -- and if it’s meant to be, you’ll catch my attention.” -- Natalia, 25

Expert advise on how to quit smoking

I'm a smoker, which is a huge turnoff to a lot of girls. I'm going to quit on my birthday in September but want all the help I can get. What's the latest research?

Expert Advise By Belisa Vranich, Psy.D. and brought to you by our content partner Men's Life Today -- Handpicked for you by our team.

Well, first of all, congrats! Your choice will expand your dating pool to include nonsmoking babes while drastically lowering your chances of getting lung cancer. Respect.
As for the how-to, the No. 1 rule: Don’t go cold turkey. The likelihood of failure is too high.
Here are some techniques to help you wean yourself off cigarettes for good. I recommend using them all -- the more weapons in your artillery, the better your chances for winning the battle.
  • Nicotine patches They look like square opaque adhesive bandages and send nicotine into your blood through the skin. Now you just have to deal with what to do with your hands and mouth.
  • Zyban This oral medication kills cravings with one awkward side effect: It can make you a bit hornier than usual.
  • Acupuncture Tiny needles go all around your ear. This treatment is so popular, even hospitals and clinics perform it for all kinds of addictions. It’s worked in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, and it can work for you.
  • Deep breathing Learning how to breathe -- and not just in an involuntary reflex kind of way -- can produce a calm similar to smoking, which forces you to think about taking deep breaths (something we rarely do during the course of the day).
  • Tea tree oil toothpicks Munching on these little sticks can satisfy that oral fixation and give you something to do with yourself now that you aren’t holding a butt.
Finally, stay away from smoking friends and activities as much as possible, and don’t be shy about reaching out for support. For more help, call 877-YES-QUIT.

Five sure signs that she is attracted to you

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

5 Ways to Tell She Digs You

Need a few sure signs to know she is that into you? Here they are.

Life is short. So when you’re out on the town meeting new women, no point in wasting time. How can you tell which ladies really welcome seduction? What clues do they give off? Here’s a guide to the things they say and do that mean they dig you.

She makes eye contact If you haven’t met yet but catch her looking at you then glancing away, then checking back to see if you’re still looking at her … this is a sign, gentlemen! Even better: She keeps you in her keen peripheral vision (8 to 4 o’clock) or dispatches her friends to covertly track your moves. Yes, this sounds totally juvenile, but it never changes -- no matter how old she is. Just make sure she’s actually staring at you, not the Tom Brady look-alike next to you (or Tom Brady himself, because nothing’s more embarrassing than responding to her glances with your best sexy look only to find you’re standing under the TV set during a good game).

She smiles, tells you her name and starts throwing off physical signals Good signs are that she’s ruffling her feathers: hair fluffing, twirling, extra giggling, strutting or wiggling around. And think you’re so sly sneaking a peak at her cleavage? Dummy -- she was letting you look. Meanwhile, is she politely shooing away people who drift in to interrupt? That’s awesome! She’s trying to keep the party to two.

She searches for commonalities Any. Thing. At. All. A favorite candy you had as a kid, water sports, late-night sitcoms. And if you really seem to have nothing in common? She says, “Wow! I’ve always wanted to try that,” regardless of whether you’re yammering on about shark-cage diving or a wrought iron class. But if she frowns at you blankly, clearly having no clue what you’re talking about, move on. She might actually do the moving on for you by enlisting her wing girl, introducing you both as lovers of water parks/Juicy Fruit/“Seinfeld,” then jetting for the bathroom, never to return.

She touches you That may mean she touches your shoulder when she leans in to talk or gives you a friendly jab in the ribs. Subtly test waters by letting your knee rest on hers. She lets it stay there? Score! If she’s taking great pains not to let any part of her body linger near yours or if she recoils abruptly at your touch, even by accident, move on!

She’s taking the interaction to another level by a) clarifying that she’s talking about an ex-boyfriend, not a current one, when she says “we”, b) asking open-ended questions about you that require long answers, and c) dissuading you from leaving and going to the next party (or at least being very forward in opining that you should come back if it sucks).

How to turn the women on by taking care of your skin

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

Turn Women on -- With Your Skin

If anything exemplifies the perplexing polarities of what women want, it’s men’s skin. She wants your face soft as a baby’s butt ... but with the rugged appearance of a veteran cowboy. She wants you to have that “JLo glow,” but the masculine version. She tells you to get regular melanoma screenings and to keep an eye out for suspicious moles -- all without keeping a pasty, Kabuki-white pallor. Go figure.
Here are five tips from the pros to achieve this feels-smooth-but-looks-rugged men’s skin dichotomy she finds so irresistible:
1. Drink up.

No, we’re not talking about beverages from a can or bottle -- we’re talking tea. Says Denise Vitello, spa director of the Mandarin Oriental in New York: Drinking warm ginger tea to support the circulation of blood will give you that flush chicks read as healthy and sexy (without the dripping sweat you get when you work out).

2. Read the labels.

No, not the protein and carb content in your protein shake (that’s another story), but rather the ones on your “products” -- from zit medication to sunblock. “The ingredients you put on your body are just as important as the ingredients you put in your body. Skin is the body's largest organ (it lives and dies) and needs nourishment to encourage regeneration of healthy skin cells,” explains Cecily Braden, president of Beauty Secrets, a company that produces organic skin care products for professional spa use.

3. Don’t suffer.

“Waiting to reach for the ChapStick and having your lips crack puts you at risk for lip cancer,” warns certified plastic surgical nurse Joan Dallal. So don’t think you’re pulling some kind of macho move by holding out -- you're just being mucho dumb. Bonus unfortunateness: “Men also have to reapply sunblock more often than women because they sweat more,” says Dallal.

4. Foresee your future.

“Your skin is nothing like your mom’s or sister’s -- it’s oilier and more acidic than women’s skin,” says Dr. Isabel Souffront, an internist specializing in cosmetic skin care. “Sure it’s denser, thicker and firmer because you have more collagen than women, but unless you take care of it, expect it to thin quickly and to have deep lines.” Bottom line: Pass the skin cream, bro.

5. Take time to shave.

“Rushing in the a.m. can really end up hurting your face if you’re multitasking and not paying attention,” warns Kristen Haines, winner of the Juli B Style Skincare Professional Esthetician of the Year award. What’s that, you say? You already shaved with too much pressure, against the grain, using a dubious razor? Soften the blow by reaching for moisturizer instead of aftershave.

You think she’s looking at your shoes or your bulging biceps? Nah, the first thing she notices is your skin, “so take that extra minute or two to pull that razor across your face and use the right product,” recommends Haines. “There is nothing sexier than a smooth, irresistible face.”

Dr. Belisa Vranich is a clinical psychologist, author and public speaker specializing in relationships and sex. She is also an expert for

The best love lessons from the 80's teen movies

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

Love Lessons From Teen Movies of the ’80s

In the golden age of teen flicks, it seemed like everybody got lucky on the big screen. Turns out these classic movies offer some real life lessons -- especially when it comes to dealing with the ladies. Here, five films that are entertaining and educational.

The art of love is a delicate thing. That’s why we take our cues from the experts. We’re talking about the classic big-screen, teen-steam machines … like Anthony Michael Hall, Jon Cryer, and the Pepé Le Pew of the pubescent scene, Kevin Bacon!

Yes, these high school anti-studs, who somehow bumbled their way into the hearts of some of the finest teen babes from The Breakfast Club to the Joel Goodson bordello, offer a fine road map to finding romance -- even if you’ve already made that wrong turn at Albuquerque.
Here, some of the key lessons you need to study to score an “A” in Love 101 … or just to score.

Footloose (1984)
Sex education: You may not be in the cool clique, but if you dance (like a man), baby, and stay true to thyself, you’ll step right into her heart forever!

Big-city Kevin Bacon might as well be ET when he crash-lands in a one-plow town where American civil liberties apparently don’t apply. No music! No parties! No dancing! Hell, no freakin’ Flock of Seagulls! So when the moussed-up, future Mr. Sedgwick shows up in shrink-wrapped jeans and a ripped-up sweatshirt, he executes a foolproof plan to dance his way into the heart of the hottest girl in town (Lori Singer), defeat her fire-and-brimstone-preaching pop (a dance denouncer) and bring joy to the masses in the process. But once Bacon kicks off his Sunday shoes, the town loses its oppressive laws, Pop loses his religion and Lori Singer chucks her virtue into the bargain. The lesson here: You gotta be you … unless you happen to be Kevin Bacon -- he’s stuck with being him. If you have confidence to let your freak flag fly, women will know you’re the real deal.

Weird Science (1985)
Sex education: You can manufacture confidence, and when you do, it’ll bring you action.
It would take a miraculous scientific breakthrough for super nerds Gary (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt (Illan Mitchell-Smith) to get a girl to notice them … so they plug a program into their SUV-sized computer and … Oingo Boingo! Say hello to the hottest digital development until the iPod: virtual vixen Lisa (Kelly LeBrock). Her mere presence alongside Gary and Wyatt makes these guys the coolest kids in school and the high schoolers with the hottest chicks. But it was more than just the virtual girl that got them action; it was the real confidence she gave them to prove that geeks can get freaky with the best of them. So remember: You don’t have to be cool to draw some heat … just gotta act it.

Pretty in Pink (1986)
Sex education: If you’re a good friend, you’ll get a girl -- it just might not be the girl.
Money-challenged Andie (Molly Ringwald) is in love with richie-rich Blaine (Andrew McCarthy). But Blaine’s snobby buddy, Steff (James Spader), wants him to dump her for someone more appropriate to his social set. But even more tragic is that Andie’s Salvation Army-styled best friend, Ducky (Jon Cryer), who’s hopelessly in love with her, has to convince Blaine that she’s worth more than all his friends combined. Sadly, he’s successful and Blaine blows off the snobs for Ducky’s dream doll. But wait! Ducky then gets plucked from the prom crowd by smokin’ hot, future vampire slayer Kristy Swanson … who admires his character! The lesson here? Friendship and loyalty lead to love -- at least for Jon Cryer, who gets action that’s way over his head. So be nice, kids -- clearly it pays off!

Risky Business (1983)
Sex education: Put yourself at risk for a chick, and you can melt her heart.
Joel is a good kid with hydrogen-fueled hormones. He’s working to get on Princeton’s short list, but he’s no genius with the ladies (which is kinda weird since he looks suspiciously like Tom freakin’ Cruise). So when his friends dial up a not-quite-lady of the evening, who directs him to a sweetie with more up top and less between the legs … it’s unlikely love at first credit card swipe with superhot Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). And while Joel looks like an easy mark, his selfless efforts to save her from her somewhat menacing pimp (we actually think L. Ron Hubbard is scarier than Joe Pantoliano) cause her to fall head over hooker heels for him. Also? He gets into Princeton! Remember, though: Paying for sex never pays off … unless, you know, you’re Tom Cruise and you’re in a movie that says it does.

The Breakfast Club (1985)
Sex education: Clichés can date outside their own species.
Wondering what happens when you gather a jock, a geek, a thug, a princess and a freak in the same room for detention? To find out, you must first find some actors who are at least eight years out of high school to play them. (Hello, Judd Nelson! How’s the AARP treating you?) Then, despite the fact that they all hate everything the others stand for … they’ll just open up to each other like they never have to even their closest friends or parish priests. Once they discover they’re all just struggling, decent kids underneath their choreographed exteriors, they’ll mate like bunnies in a breeding farm -- except for the geek (Anthony Michael Hall), of course -- he’s got a girlfriend in Canada! So don’t despair! Remember there’s someone out there for anybody -- as long as you’re willing to ditch your own adorable, antisocial persona … and you’re into the ‘80s band Tears for Fears.

Mike Hammer is a writer and former editor of Maxim, Stuff and Shock. Every night before bed, Mike prays that John Hughes will make another movie.

How to dig out the unknown music bands

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

Where the Best Unknown Bands Are Hiding

If you think Top 40 is not so tops and want your tunes to be more cutting-edge, you need to know where to find the best music. Read on.

Your local radio station plays the same 10 songs over and over again. MTV is too busy airing "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" marathons to actually bother showing videos anymore. Print music magazines are rapidly dying off.
So where can a music fan such as yourself find out about the newest, edgiest tunes? Here are a few expert tips for discovering music outside the realm of the Top 40:

Enter the Blogosphere
Blogs are a great place to learn about -- and, just as important, to hear -- indie and alternative rock. The challenge for beginners is finding the good ones.
“There are roughly 5,094,947 music blogs on the Internet,” jokes Ryan Dombal, a staff writer at Pitchfork, a popular indie rock Web site (technically not a blog) credited with helping break acts like the Arcade Fire and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. “Pitchfork breaks through the MP3 din, hitting on things people care about” via album reviews (the site employs an infamous 0.0 to 10.0 rating scale), artist news and interviews, and links to the latest videos and audio files.
Another good starting point is the indie rock blog Stereogum. “After you find one blog or site that corresponds with your personal taste, check out the other blogs or sites it links to,” Dombal recommends. “It’s a process of trial and error, but it's worth it when you’re eventually exposed to your favorite new band.”

Tune Into the Net
“Commercial radio is all about finding that mass-appeal audience, and if mass appeal is your bottom line, you’re going to cut out a lot of interesting music,” says Mike Taylor, program director and DJ for the Cincinnati-based Web site WOXY. A terrestrial radio station in the past, WOXY has been broadcasting exclusively online since 2004. Its DJs cater to a select audience; current station faves include the female singer-songwriter St. Vincent and Brooklyn indie rockers White Rabbits. If you like a song you hear on WOXY, you can click on the link to the Web site Lala and buy the MP3. “We act as a filter for new music,” Taylor says.
To find other online broadcasters catering to your tastes, check out station aggregator Web sites like Shoutcast or Live365. iTunes also offers free Net radio streams. Or let a computer try to figure out what you’d like: Web sites like Pandora, Last (.fm) and iLike will personalize playlists for you based on your top artists.

Get out of the House
The Internet is a wonderful tool for discovering cool new tunes. But sometimes it’s nice to talk music with an actual human being -- you know, face-to-face (like back in 1999). If you’re lucky enough to still have one or more independent record stores in your town, visit! “I think it’s easier to talk to someone working at a store than hunt down music on different blogs,” says Scott Wishart, co-owner of Lunchbox Records in Charlotte, N.C. “I can recommend something similar to what they like and play it for them on the stereo -- or they can listen to it on headphones in the back.”

Wishart advises developing a rapport with a local record store clerk so he or she can get to know your tastes and avoiding the snobs (think: Jack Black in High Fidelity), if possible. Finally, once you’ve found music you love, separate yourself from the computer as often as possible to see your new favorites live. “Show up early for shows and catch the opening bands,” advises Pitchfork’s Dombal. “That’s how I first heard about this band called The Strokes. And if the opening act sucks, you can make fun of them with your friends.”

How to be more sexually active by living healthy

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

Live Healthy Now -- Have More Sex Later
Think what you do today has no bearing on your sex life tomorrow, or the day after? Think again.

The plight of the typical young man isn’t the inability to have sex; it's usually the inability to find someone to have sex with.

Fact is, though, if you think you don’t have to worry about erectile dysfunction (ED) until your hair starts to turn gray, think again. Even in your early 20s, chances are your arteries are already undergoing changes that may culminate years from now in ED.

Fundamentally, erection depends on blood flow into the penis. The more blood, the more reliable and firm your erection. But when arteries become narrowed by cholesterol-rich atherosclerotic plaque deposits, less blood flows into the penis and erections wilt. This becomes apparent by the time a man hits 50.

Harvard researchers tracked 31,742 middle-aged men for 14 years and found that ED is strongly linked to lifestyle factors that spur the growth of atherosclerotic plaques: smoking, obesity, heavy drinking and lack of exercise.

But plaques don’t pop up out of nowhere when you hit 50. They start to develop in childhood. Autopsies of American males killed in their late teens and 20s in accidents or in war consistently show the beginnings of atherosclerotic plaques, which means the beginning of ED.

Meanwhile, a healthy lifestyle keeps blood flowing freely through the arteries and preserves erection function. Healthy living doesn’t mean you’ll have the ability of legends at 90. But if you want to function sexually on Social Security, you’d be smart to adopt a healthy lifestyle now.

Here’s how:

Get Regular, Moderate Exercise
Exercise is crucial for arterial health and blood flow into the penis. Exercise lowers cholesterol, which minimizes the deposits (plaques) on artery walls that narrow them and reduce blood flow. A study of middle-aged men at the University of California, San Diego, shows that as regular, moderate exercise increased, erections become more reliable. ED-preventive exercise doesn’t require extreme sports, but rather the equivalent of brisk walking for about an hour a day. “No question about it,” says Hank Wuh, M.D., author of Sexual Fitness. “Regular exercise improves erection function and sex.”

Eat Less Meat, Cheese and Junk Food, and More fruits and Vegetables
Meat, cheese and junk food are high in saturated (animal) fat. Like cholesterol, this fat narrows the arteries, limiting blood flow to the penis. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, contain antioxidant nutrients that minimize plaques and improve arterial blood flow. Italian researchers identified 65 men with incipient ED and asked half of them to eat less meat and cheese, and more fruits and vegetables. After two years, those who maintained a high-fat diet continued to have erection difficulties. But those who increased their fruit and vegetable consumption reported significantly less ED.

Lose Excess Weight
According to the Harvard study of middle-aged men, obesity is strongly associated with ED, and weight loss improves erection function. That’s not surprising. As we’ve seen, exercise and a diet low in saturated fat improve erections. They are also cornerstones of weight control. Studies at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center show that as men lose weight and become more physically active, they report better erections.

Stop Smoking
Cigarettes greatly accelerate the growth of artery-narrowing plaques. A study at the New England Research Institute in Watertown, Mass., shows that smoking almost doubles risk of ED. Australian epidemiologist Christopher Millett, Ph.D., says, “Health promotion programs should use the link between tobacco and ED to help convince men to quit smoking.”

Manage Your Stress
Many young men feel like they have heavy weights on their shoulders. In one recent survey, 60 percent of Americans said they feel they’re “under significant stress” at least once a week. And since the stock market crash last fall, ComPsych, the nation’s largest employee-assistance program, reports that requests for psychotherapy have surged 40 percent.

The biological result of this emotional stress: the release of two hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) that constrict arteries, reducing blood flow into the genitals.

The erection-firming antidote is an ongoing stress-management program. Proven stress relievers include exercise -- aerobic or non-aerobic (e.g., yoga) -- meditation, music (playing or listening to), massage, laughter, hot baths, gardening, caring for a pet, visualization (of relaxing scenes) and quality time with friends, family or a lover. Incorporate one or more into your daily life, or even better, combine them: Exercise with friends or bathe with your girlfriend, for instance.

Bottom line: Couch potatoes are on a one-way trip to ED. But if you get off the sofa, work out and switch from Big Macs to big salads -- with low-fat dressing, of course -- you’re much more likely to maintain firm, reliable erections as you get older and to enjoy satisfying sex.

How even the thin ones can add muscles and put on weight

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

Go From Stick to Thick

It's tough to bulk up. But even “hard gainers” can add muscle if they follow these crucial tips.

Some guys put on muscle just by Googling. A lot of men, though, aren’t so lucky. They're “hard gainers,” for whom nothing comes “in bulk.”

But even the skinniest guys can put on some halfway-respectable mass if they work it right. Hey, if you’ve seen Christian Bale’s skeletal stick figure in The Machinist, you’d never guess he could become the buffed Dark Knight. So, if you’d like to go from machinist to Batman, follow these quick, effective tips on how to put on the right kind of weight (muscle, not fat). True, you may not wind up as muscular as the Caped Crusader (genetics can be quite the super-villain), but surely you can look as good as Robin. Here’s how:

Leave the Bodybuilding Routines for the Bodybuilders
You’ve got the latest issue of Muscle Maniacs Magazine in your hand, and you’re tempted to try that chest workout Mr. Galaxy is using. Stop.

“Those magazines are based on steroid bodybuilders, and what works for somebody on steroids doesn’t work for somebody who wants to be natural,” says Fit Chicago owner Clint Phillips, a certified personal trainer. “Many hard gainers think more is better and end up doing an insane amount of sets and reps. They’ll often be in the gym for two or three hours.”

Instead, Phillips recommends spending only 45 minutes to an hour with the weights and no more than two to three weight workouts a week.

To Get Bigger, Go Basic
Get rid of the so-called “shaping exercises” done with little dumbbells -- such as shoulder raises, chest flyes and concentration curls -- as these target only part of a muscle group. Instead, stick with barbell-type moves and heavier weights, and aim for compound movements that involve at least two or more muscle groups, such as the chest, shoulders and triceps for the bench press.

Why? Your muscles respond most to lifting heavier loads, and the impact on the muscles can be considerably magnified by moves that involve more muscle groups. This will enable you to lift even heavier weights and build more muscle thanks to those bigger loads.

“Choose the more difficult movements,” advises certified personal trainer Mike Boyle, who owns Mike Boyle's Strength & Conditioning in Winchester, Mass. Go for the bigger exercises like squats, presses, deadlifts, chin-ups and straight bar curls.

Challenge Yourself
To maximize your gains, choose challenging moves and go hard during every set. “Intensity is much more important to muscle growth than quantity. I would much prefer to see two very intense sets to failure [until you can’t lift anymore] with heavy weights and with forced reps [four to eight] than four to five sets of 12 to 15 reps at moderate intensity,” explains Phillips. For example, if you get to 10 reps with a lot of muscle straining, then you're going too light. Pound up!

Boyle agrees, saying he sees too many guys take the easy route in the weight room. “Many would rather do tricep press-downs than dips, or leg presses than squats … but they’re just cheating themselves of better muscle gains,” he explains.

Choose “Muscle Cardio”
The last thing you need -- after putting your muscles on the get-bigger track -- is going through a long cardio session, which will only whittle down those gains. Inevitably, your body will extract the energy it needs for long cardio from your muscle tissues, no matter how fueled up you are before.

Instead, further enhance the muscle-building process by adding some “muscle cardio” or “explosive cardio” -- short bursts of power followed by longer bouts of rest -- two to three times a week. Do eight rounds of 10 to 20 seconds of high-intensity cardio, such as wind sprints or cycle sprints, followed by 20 to 40 seconds rest.

Master Before-and-after Eating
There’s no shortcut to the muscled-up “after” picture of a stick-figure “before” you. Frankly, a lot of it has to do with what you routinely eat -- including different kinds of carbohydrates and proteins -- before and after workouts, and before and after sleep.

After you wake up, you want to get your muscles back into the anabolic (muscle building) state and out of the catabolic (muscle breakdown) state they fall into by morning time. Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., a registered dietitian and author of Power Eating, recommends eating protein for breakfast to avoid that latter state -- and that’s why eggs are a good start to the day. If you prefer to sip rather than chew early in the day, go with a whey protein shake -- which your muscles rapidly absorb -- with fruit.

Overall, she says that each day hard gainers must consume at least 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight and 2.73 or more grams of carbohydrates. In other words, if you're 180 pounds -- and don’t worry, you’ll get there -- that means 131.4 grams of protein and 491.4 grams of carbohydrates per day. If you have five meals per day, that translates to 26.3 grams of protein (equivalent to about four eggs) and 98.3 grams of carbohydrates (about five pancakes) per meal. A four-ounce chicken sandwich with a side of brown rice and vegetables would be a perfectly balanced meal.

Two to three hours before the workout, down a carbohydrate-protein mixture, such as a mixed-nutrient sports bar or a PB&J. Kleiner says it will provide immediate energy and decrease the negative effects of exercise, such as damage to muscle tissue and muscle soreness.

After your workout, don’t waste any time. “Within 15 to 30 minutes after setting down that last weight, take in some carbohydrates to refill your glycogen stores, build new proteins and refuel for tomorrow’s training session,” urges Kleiner.

Lastly, before bed, switch out the fast-digesting whey protein for slow-digesting, time-release proteins like casein protein powder and dairy food. Says Kleiner, this will help keep your body in muscle-building state during the dark night.

Or is that, “dark knight?”

Healthy habits that make you look handsome and dashing

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

10 Healthy Habits That Make You Handsome

There are easier, more effective, ways to look like a million bucks than by plunking down that much on some surgical solution -- the way some Hollywood pretty-boy wannabe would. And just your luck: all involve treating your body better. It’s true, a healthier lifestyle can actually boost your physical appearance -- targeting everything from your complexion, to those bags under your eyes, to the sheen of your hair.

Follow these 10 simple health and nutrition tips to make the face staring at you in the mirror hotter than ever.

1. Care about skin care.
Too often, this advice is sloughed off like dead epidermal cells. But listen anyway: Use moisturizers to keep your skin from drying out -- and more importantly, apply sunscreen to curb premature aging and undue damage from ultraviolet rays bound to resurface in the form of leather-textured moles or other such unpleasantnesses.

“If men would simply do this, it would make the biggest difference in their appearance,” says Dr. Leslie Baumann, a dermatologist and author of the best-seller The Skin Type Solution. Make it a habit, like shaving or brushing your teeth, she suggests.

2. Butt out.
As in, stop smoking. “Cigarettes cause worse wrinkling than the sun,” stresses Dr. Brooke Seckel, a plastic surgeon and author of Save Your Face -- The Revolutionary 6-Step Nonsurgical Facial Rejuvenation Program. Smoking robs the skin of collagen and elastin -- which give the skin texture, strength and elasticity -- and in turn speeds up the aging process. Cigarette use can also give the skin a grayish tone. Hot!

3. Eat right.
A healthy diet equals a more glowing complexion, shinier hair and a fitter you.

“The key is to stay well balanced,” says Jim White, a fitness and nutrition expert, and a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association. “Oatmeal is a great power food. It’s loaded with fiber and can help manage hunger and lower cholesterol. Cottage cheese, meanwhile, is low in sugar and high in protein and calcium.”

Overall, stick closely to a Mediterranean-type diet, with few high-fat meats and larger amounts of grains, fish and olive oil.

4. Sleep.
Get the recommended eight hours a night, at least. “Sleeping restores all organs of the body, including the skin, which is the body’s largest organ,” notes Seckel. “It also reduces tension and anxiety, lessening crow’s feet, frown lines and worry lines.”

Lack of sleep also causes those dreaded circles under your eyes. (See our Facebook photos.)

5. Hydrate.
“Skin needs water to function properly, especially to fight damage caused by the sun,” says Baumann. Drinking the recommended eight glasses a day additionally flushes toxins from the body and brings nutrients to the deep layer of the skin (the dermis).

6. Slenderize.
Trimming down will not only improve your appearance but also reduce your risk of stroke, diabetes, cancer and other diseases.
“Don’t go on some radical diet. Instead think about portion control,” says White. “Shave your calorie intake by 500 a day by cutting back on some vices like fried foods, and you’ll lose a sensible pound or two a week.”

7. Be pro-antioxidant.
Antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E found in fruits and vegetables are essential. They promote skin repair and elasticity and also reduce your risk for heart disease and cancer, says White.

8. Do cardio.
A cardio workout regimen lowers stress, makes you happier and gives your skin a glow. “Do any kind of aerobic exercise that will raise your heart rate above baseline for half an hour a day, says Dr. Douglas Peterson, a sports medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic. “It could be going for a walk, taking a bike ride or using the elliptical -- something that works up a sweat a little. Don’t do too much too fast or you’ll get injured and quit. Exercise should be fun, and you should feel good doing it.”

9. Watch the booze.
“Alcohol causes swelling of the tissues, especially puffy eyes, and often leads to bad eating habits -- causing weight gain -- and smoking,” warns Seckel.

10. Stand tall.
Good posture really is a good thing. Core strength training will get rid of that unseemly slouch. (Plus, a new set of six pack abs is definitely an appearance improvement.) Dr. Peterson recommends light resistance training two to three times a week to strengthen core muscles. A certified personal trainer can work with you on a regimen that you can follow at home.
Greg Melville has been covering health and fitness for newspapers and national magazines for 15 years.

Latest trends in Razor Technology

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

Razor Technology: 2010

Keeping up with the latest trends in music (Ke$ha in, Amy Winehouse out) and technology (iPad in, Kindle out) is easy. But razor technology is a different story. Even though razors are an everyday essential, it’s hard to keep track of what’s new, hot and different. And forget about asking the store stock guy for help on the subject. (You’ll be lucky if he’s even able to direct you to the razors.)
So here’s a primer on the two chart-topping cartridge razors, the Gillette Fusion ProGlide and Schick Quattro, and one best-selling electric razor, the Braun Pulsonic 790cc -- with insight from Michael Gilman, blogger for his site,

Gillette Fusion ProGlide

This upgrade to the world’s best-selling shaving system, the five-blade Fusion, incorporates a blade with thinner edges that’s covered in a low-resistance coating to slice with less tug and pull. A blade stabilizer has been added to keep the blades properly spaced apart, and the Lubrastrip is 25 percent bigger to help the razor glide across the face more easily. “Gillette has probably maxed out the number of blades at five, so they’re focusing now on making the quality of the blades better, and a better moisture strip,” says Gilman. “They succeed here.”

Schick Quattro Titanium

Most blades are made of stainless steel. The latest improvement to the popular Quattro line is clear from the name: titanium. Schick uses a coating of this precious metal on the four blades for a dramatically sharper cutting edge that doesn’t get dull as quickly. Its grip is now ribbed as well, for an easier hold. “Razors are kind of like golf clubs. Everyone is looking for new materials to make them with. What kind of difference they make is up in the air. I shaved with the Quattro Titanium just the other day, though, and I did get a really close shave,” says Gilman.

Braun Pulsonic 790cc

Braun’s proprietary Pulsonic Technology oscillates the electric 790cc at 10,000 micro-vibrations per minute to help deliver an outstanding close and comfortable shave. Its two shaving surfaces also pivot and flex to contour the face, and you can clean, lubricate and dry the shaver with a simple press of a button. “There’s a lot of validity to the Pulsonic Technology. Barbers will do an aggressive massage with their hands to get the whiskers loose and the face putty-like for a better shave. It’s the same basic idea here,” says Gilman.

Greg Melville is a former Men’s Journal editor who has written about grooming for several publications, including Men’s Health. Melville sports a mean noontime shadow.