How The ‘Gym Bros’ Phenomenon May Be Hurting You!
“How often do you go to the gym, bro?” Dreaded this question? You're not alone. Staying fit means going beyond gym! Read on to know more...
At the gym, you may have encountered the so-called ‘gym bros’. Usually, a gym bro is someone who is:
Flexing their biceps before the mirrors.
Talking out loud about their number of sets.
Discussing supplements and steroids for bulking up without accounting for body type.
The term ‘gym bro’ generally refers to those who participate in high-intensity workouts, spend many hours at the gym, talk about fitness in every conversation, and are extremely competitive with each other.
Being a part of such a culture and social circle can help develop friendships and camaraderie. It will fuel your motivation to keep fit and healthy. At the same time, you can start feeling inferior if you don’t fall within these narrow standards of beauty and masculinity.
You may end up overextending yourself and ignoring other aspects of your life. Bench-pressing and lifting some weights can indeed be great for your fitness goals, but overdoing anything (that the gym bros culture promotes) can be harmful.
Being a ‘gym bro’ can be bad for your health?
Not everything is black and white about being a ‘gym bro’. Let’s look at some of the more grey areas that can hurt you...
Are you often anxious about your diet after gymming? Being a gym bro, you may obsesses over what you eat and how it contributes to your fitness.
That increases your chances of going on intermittent fasts and adopt restrictive diets to lose weight quickly or eat more to bulk up. Such disordered eating can have a long-term impact on your health.
A continuous disruption in your diet can also lead to eating disorders marked by abnormal eating behaviour and unhealthy practices like binge eating and purging.
Health is where your heart is
Were you shocked when you heard the news of well-toned and gym-going young celebrities dying due to cardiac arrests?
Staying fit and getting some exercise are certainly necessary for your cardiovascular health. But excessive, high-intensity exercise can have negative ramifications, especially if you are already dealing with health and lifestyle problems like diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and hypertension.
Body dysmorphia and mental distress
Do you feel dissatisfied with your body when you look at your image in the mirror? Do you judge yourself while browsing through fitness accounts on social media? Poor body image can rear its head in the gym culture due to unrealistic expectations of yourself that can cause body dysmorphic disorder.
Muscle dysphoria is a subcategory where you may feel that you are not muscular or lean enough. As the gym bro culture perpetuates ideas about the ideal male body, it can erode your view of your masculinity and manhood. This can lead to numerous mental health challenges like irritability, mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
The constant reinforcement in the ‘gym bros’ group often creates the myth that the more time you spend in the gym, the healthier you are.
Any expert would tell you that overexercising and not resting enough can instead cause fitness burnout. This is marked by recurrent injuries due to overtraining, reduced recovery, lethargy, and constant pain.
Overtraining and overexercising can have a direct impact on your hormonal health too. For instance, regular high-intensity workouts can increase cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and affect the balance of other hormones like insulin and testosterone.
Such hormonal imbalances cause disruptions in your blood sugar levels, sleep cycle, and energy throughout the day. To negate these health issues, you can make some changes to adopt a healthier gym and fitness lifestyle that works for you.
How to develop a healthier relationship between gym and fitness?
Maintaining any relationship is really all about balance. If you strike the right balance between gym and fitness, you can get the desired results.
Your body needs time to recover. Implement regular rest days as part of your fitness schedule. Also, rest between different sets during your workout in the gym.
If you are dealing with the signs and symptoms of overtraining, like fatigue and sustained injuries, heed your body and let it heal completely before plunging into the routine again.
Variety is the key to having a healthier fitness routine. Sweating it out in the gym and working on the same routine daily can do more harm than good.
Instead of repetition, participate in some alternative practices like yoga, running, and swimming in between periods of high-intensity and endurance training. You could even work out from home once in a while instead of hitting the gym.
It is not good for your body or mind to be always gymming or thinking about gymming without taking care of your other needs. Your gym workouts are more beneficial if you manage your daily lifestyle.
You must consume well-balanced nutritious food (not just protein shakes and eggs), sleep 7-9 hours, and maintain a social life outside the gym for a mental reset.
Get expert opinion
Do not overlook or avoid any health issues. If you are in constant pain or get injured, consult your doctor or a physical therapist for treatment and recovery.
Similarly, if you are dealing with issues related to your body image or find that the gym culture is affecting your daily life, like your career and relationships, seek help from a mental health professional. Your mental wellness is as significant as your physical fitness.
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