February 2012

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We separate fact from fiction to stop your sniffling, sneezing and wheezing for good
By Aviva Patz, Photographs by Bill Diodato

YOU DON’T NEED WEBMD TO DECODE ALLERGIES. The reason for your sniffling is simple: Your immune system encounters a foreign substance (pollen, say), registers it as a threat (it’s not), and launches a counterattack. Cue the runny nose and itchy eyes. Straightforward, right? In fact, that may be the only thing about allergies that is straightforward. “Many people suffer quietly with allergies for decades,” says William Reisacher, M.D., an assistant professor of otorhi nolaryngology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “They don’t tell their doctors because of the false belief that allergies are a trivial problem with no solution.” Breathe a sigh of relief: We’ve uncovered the truth about allergies—and the best ways to keep airborne enemies at bay.

Allergies are on the rise because we’ve sanitized our lives

PROBABLY TRUE But Purell isn’t entirely to blame. One leading theory is that the uptick in allergies began with our shift away from farm life and has accelerated because of our obsession with antibiotics and cleanliness, says Estelle Levetin, Ph.D., head of biological science at the University of Tulsa. As a result, we’re exposed to fewer infectious agents than ever—with an unexpected side effect. In the absence of its usual targets, your immune system may become overly sensitive and attack harmless particles, says Levetin.
YOUR MOVE There’s no need to play FarmVille in your backyard. But the next time your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, ask if it’s absolutely necessary. When your immune system is forced to focus on invaders that matter, it may eventually start to ignore allergens, say researchers in France. Another strategy: Eat more fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kefir. They’re full of good bacteria that may boost your immune system and, say scientists in Pakistan, further help prevent it from reacting to allergens.

Special pillowcases and mattress covers will banish dust mites from your bedroom

FALSE You won’t win this pillow fight. Simply covering your bedding with miteproof covers isn’t enough to reduce your symptoms, a 2011 Cochrane review concluded. “Covers will work as part of a plan that includes other dust-mite control measures,” says Thomas Platts-Mills, M.D., Ph.D., director of the University of Virginia’s asthma and allergic disease center.
YOUR MOVE The first step in your mite-control mission: the right pillow and mattress covers. Skip the cheapie versions—their weave isn’t tight enough to block the little buggers, says Dr. Platts-Mills. Instead, invest in Mission: Allergy Premium Microfiber Allergen-Proof Shams and Mattress Encasings ($28 to $170, missionallergy.com). Also, regularly wash your sheets and pillowcases in hot water and clean your floors with a HEPA vacuum, such as the Hoover WindTunnel Self-Propelled Bagless Upright ($200, hoover.com). In a Rutgers study, HEPA filtration reduced dust-mite allergens by 81 percent. The key: After vacuuming, the scientists waited 2 hours to let any agitated particles settle, and then they vacuumed again.

You may have allergies and not even realize it

TRUE You’ve pegged your runny nose as a cold symptom, but could it be allergies? “Many people misdiagnose allergies as a cold or the flu, so they never receive appropriate care,” says Stanley Naides, M.D., medical director for immunology at Quest Diagnostics. This could prime your body for more misery: Untreated allergies can predispose you to sinusitis (a sinus infection due to fluid buildup), middle ear infections (inflammation/fluid buildup in your ear), or even asthma.
YOUR MOVE Take this test from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: (1) How did your symptoms start? Cold symptoms evolve, but allergy symptoms often strike all at once. (2) How long have you been miserable? Colds typically clear up within a week or two, whereas allergies may drag on. (3) Achy and feverish? Probably a cold or the flu. (4) Itchy eyes? Allergies, most likely. (5) Sore throat or coughing? Generally a cold. Bottom line: Don’t let symptoms linger. After 2 weeks of suffering, visit your doctor, who can spot subtle signs of allergies, such as pale nasal mucous membranes, says Jeffrey Demain, M.D., director of the Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Center of Alaska.

Hypoallergenic pets won’t stir up your symptoms

FALSE Don’t expect a hypoallergenic pet to sneezeproof your pad. In a recent Henry Ford Health System study, allergen levels in homes with “hypoallergenic” dogs were found to be no lower than in homes with other breeds. The reason: The particles sloughed off the dog’s tongue and saliva—not its fur—are what trigger your reaction, says study author Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D. Plus, pets are often covered in other allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold.
YOUR MOVE The Obamas were smart to adopt Bo, but not because of his so-called allergy-free coat. A dog can be an allergic person’s best choice because cat dander is “stickier” and thus tougher to eliminate, says Dr. Reisacher. Shampoo your pooch regularly, and blow-dry its fur on low heat to fight “wet dog” smell, which is caused by mold. Finally, use bleach or a color-safe alternative to destroy any dander clinging to your clothes.

Nasal sprays are a safe steroid treatment

TRUE You may associate steroids with meat-heads, but what they use are anabolic steroids, which mimic male hormones. The corticosteroids in nasal sprays, on the other hand, are inflammation-fighting hormones. “They have fewer side effects than antihistamines because they go directly into your nasal tissue instead of throughout your body,” says Timothy Mainardi, M.D., an allergist at Columbia University. Studies also show that corticosteroid sprays reduce nasal blockage and discharge more effectively than antihistamines do.
YOUR MOVE Start spraying a couple of weeks before your allergy season typically begins, suggests Dr. Mainardi. Red, itchy eyes? Opt for Veramyst, a new corticosteroid spray that controls nasal and eye symptoms. Or pair Nasonex or Flonase with a second-generation antihistamine, such as Claritin or Zyrtec.

Skin testing is a waste of time—you’ll react to everything

FALSE If your test results say “allergic to the world,” find a new allergist. Skin reactions need to be at least 3 millimeters across to indicate an allergy that can cause symptoms, says Dr. Demain. Another key to avoiding false positives: Share your medical history before testing. If you now eat eggs without problems despite a childhood egg allergy, your allergist can skip that test.
YOUR MOVE This is one exam you don’t want to cheat on. Avoid antihistamines 3 days prior, since they may dampen your allergic response and skew your results, say Mayo Clinic scientists. And at your appointment, provide the full rundown: timing of your symptoms, family history, suspected triggers, and previously diagnosed allergies. Your allergist will then decide which allergens to test for.

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By: Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S.

Perform the following routine prior to every upper body workout. The movements will activate the muscles in your shoulders, back, chest, and arms, which helps you lift more weight and prevent injury. The exercises should take no more than 10 minutes.
Pushup Circuit Complete one set of 5 to 10 reps of each pushup version listed below. After each set rest 10 to 20 seconds and then continue on to the next exercise. Use the higher number of reps if you’ve been resistance training for more at least 1 to 2 years.
How to do it: This circuit uses variations of the standard pushup. For each movement, assume a pushup position (with your body in a straight line from ankles to shoulders), and then lower your chest to the floor. Press your body back to the starting position by straightening your arms.
Plus: Pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts for fast fitness tips and great new workouts.

Pushup

Assume a pushup position with your hands set just wider than shoulder-width. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the floor, then push yourself back up to the starting position. That’s one rep.

Diamond Pushup

Do a pushup with your hands close enough for the tips of your thumbs and index fingers to touch, forming a diamond shape.

Wide-Hands Pushup

Place your hands about twice shoulder-width apart.

Staggered-Hands Pushup

Place one hand in standard pushup position and your other hand a few inches farther forward.

Explosive Pushup

After you lower your body, press yourself up so forcefully that your hands leave the floor.
After completing the pushups, perform the following two exercises designed to improve range of motion in your shoulders and protect your joints before lifting heavier weights.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise and External Rotation

1-2 sets of 15 reps
Grab a light pair of dumbbells and hold them at arm’s length with your palms turned toward each other. Bend your elbows 90 degrees. Without changing the bend in your arms, raise your upper arms out to the sides until they’re parallel to the floor. Rotate your upper arms up and back so that your forearms are pointing toward the ceiling. Pause, then reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

Cable Diagonal Raise

1-2 sets of 15 reps per arm
Attach a stirrup handle to the low pulley of a cable station. Standing with your right side toward the weight stack, grab the handle with your left hand and position it in front of your rip hip, with your elbow slightly bent. Without changing the bend in your elbow, pull the handle up and across your body until your hand is above your head. Lower the handle to the starting position. Complete all repetitions with your left arm, then immediately do the same with your right arm.

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Use this guide to create your very own cutting-edge exercise routine
By Eric Cressey, C.S.C.S.

Lawyers have a word for accused criminals who represent themselves in court: convicts. Similarly, trainers like me have a word for guys who write their own workouts. Several words, actually: “weak,” “injured,” “skinny,” “fat,” and, worst of all, “skinny-fat.”
Why? Because it’s human nature for us to make it easy on ourselves. We pick exercises we like. We design workouts that play to our strengths and ignore our weaknesses.
And yet the most successful programs I’ve used are ones I created for myself. My secret? I follow the same process I use to write workouts for my clients, starting with the five considerations on the following pages. Guide yourself with them, and you’ll create a custom routine that can have you looking stronger and more buff in no time.

1. Which exercises should I include?

The best workouts are built on basic compound exercises: squats, deadlifts, bench and shoulder presses, chinups, rows. As your own trainer, your job is to fit these exercises into a balanced program. Below are the exercise categories I draw from to do just that, along with the number of times I use a category in a week. But to make it easy, my Ultimate Strength Workout shows you exactly how to put it all together. Add in a great warmup and some core work, and you’ll have a template you can use to build the body you want.
SQUAT (1 or 2 times a week) Includes barbell back and front squats and all the dumbbell variations.
DEADLIFT (1 or 2 times a week) Includes traditional barbell deadlifts (arms outside legs), sumo-style (wide stance, arms inside legs) and straight-leg lifts, and more variations than most of us could do in a lifetime.
SINGLE LEG (2 or 3 times a week) Includes lunges; stepups; single-leg squats; and deadlifts with body weight, a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells.
HORIZONTAL PULL (2 or 3 times a week) “Horizontal” refers to the direction of movement if you were standing up. So if you’re doing a seated cable row or a bent-over dumbbell row, it’s still considered a horizontal pull. This category also includes face pulls and inverted rows.
HORIZONTAL PUSH (2 times a week) Examples of these exercises include the classic pushup; the bench press with barbell or dumbbells; dips; and all their variations.
VERTICAL PULL (1 or 2 times a week) Includes chinups, pullups, and lat pulldowns.
VERTICAL PUSH (0 or 1 time a week) Includes all the variations of the shoulder press.

2. What should I do first?

The first exercise in each workout should be the one that requires the most effort. If your goal is overall strength, begin one workout with a squat and another with a deadlift, and separate them as much as possible. So if you do squats on Monday, do deadlifts on Friday. On Wednesday, you could start with an upper-body exercise. If your main goal is upper-body size, do the reverse and start your Monday and Friday workouts with upper-body exercises.

3. How many sets/reps?

Most of us do well with a mix of heavy (for strength), medium (for muscle size), and light (for muscular endurance) weights. This calls for a combination of low-rep (3 to 6), moderate-rep (7 to 10), and high-rep (11 to 15) sets.
Your set count should be inversely related to your number of reps per set. If you’re doing high reps (15, say), 1 to 2 sets might be enough. For 10 to 12 reps, do 2 or 3 sets. For 8 reps, 3 or 4 sets would work well. And if you’re doing 3 or 4 reps per set, you probably want to do 5 or 6 sets.
The key is to manage the total volume of each workout. On this month’s workout poster, you’ll see that each sample workout includes 14 total sets of strength exercises. Add in core training and perhaps another exercise to shore up a weakness, and you could end up with 20 total sets.
That’s not a magic number; you may see better results with more or less volume. But it’s a good benchmark for most men, most of the time.

4. How will I make progress?

This, of course, depends on your main goal.
STRENGTH You measure progress by the number of plates on the bar, so you want to increase the weight on your main exercises each week. Let’s say you’re doing 5 sets of 3 reps of the front squat. In the first week, you use 135 pounds for your fourth and fifth sets. The second week, you might go up to 155 pounds for the final sets.
You can continue like this for a few weeks, but eventually you’ll hit a point when your strength gains are smaller than the weights you can add to the bar. To use heavier weights, you have to reduce your number of repetitions. So instead of 5 sets of 3, you might do 3 sets of 3 and 2 sets of 2. Or you could do 6 sets of 2, using progressively heavier weights in each set, with the goal of using the heaviest weight possible in your final set each week. You can apply this strategy to any exercise, with any configuration of sets and reps.
SIZE Muscles grow bigger when you make them stronger, which is easy enough to understand even if it’s sometimes hard to pull off. They grow because you make them do more work. You can accomplish that by adding a rep or two to each set or by adding a set to each exercise.
Let’s say you’re doing the barbell incline bench press. You start with 4 sets of 6. For the first few weeks, you should see steady increases in strength simply by adding more weight to the bar. When you feel your strength reaching a plateau, try to squeeze out an extra repetition or two—that is, do 7 or 8 reps—with the same weight on your final 2 sets. Or you could add a fifth set. That gives you more total work, which should lead to bigger muscles.

5. How can I keep my program fresh?

Your workouts will turn boring—maybe even counterproductive—if you don’t revise them every 4 to 6 weeks. You have two ways to keep them challenging.
1. Change exercises within each category—switch from chinups to pullups, for example.
2. Change order. If you’ve been doing 3 sets of 10 reps of the final exercise in a workout, try doing it first, using heavier weights for 5 sets of 3 reps.
Whichever strategy you choose, I highly recommend that you give yourself a weeklong break between programs. You don’t need to take the week off; just use that week to do less—fewer sets, lighter weights. You’ll likely find that this “rest” helps boost future gains. And it’s especially important if you’re feeling beaten up and run-down.

Last point: The only way to figure out what works best for you is to haul your butt into the weight room, push yourself, and see what happens. Until then, the best-written plans are just pieces of paper in your gym bag.

Anybody can slap together a bunch of exercises and call it a workout. Many people do, and they have the mediocore results to prove it. But we have a way to create the perfect workout for YOU. Eric Cressey’s Ultimate Strength Workout is available exclusively on Men’s Health Personal Trainer. Try the workout for 4 to 6 weeks, then customize it by plugging in your own exercises.

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The truth about gluten, the food industry, and your  belly
By Matthew Solan

Turkey and tomato on wheat. Whole-grain pasta. Healthy, right? Maybe. But  more and more people believe these foods are parts of a potentially disastrous  trap. They claim that sluggishness and weight gain can be blamed on an insidious  substance hiding in wheat and many other common grains: gluten.
Avoiding  gluten has become big business. Sales of gluten-free products grew about 30  percent a year from 2006 to 2010, and will hit $3.9 billion by next year,  according to the market research company Packaged Facts. Supermarket shelves are  filled with gluten-free breads, soups, and cake mixes—even gluten-free ketchup  and soy sauce. According to market research firm Mintel, 10 percent of new foods  launched in 2010 featured a “gluten-free” claim, up from only 2 percent 5 years  earlier.
NFL quarterback Drew Brees won a Super Bowl while on a  gluten-free diet. Cyclist Tom Danielson, a record-breaking member of the  Garmin-Transitions team, says his training and racing have improved since he and  his teammates went gluten-free over a year ago.
Have most common whole  grains been acting as insidious nutritional double agents all these years? Or  are they essential components of a healthy diet? Let’s separate the wheat from  the chaff.

What is gluten, anyway? How does it affect the body?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, as well as in many  common food additives. It’s what gives dough its elasticity and baked goods  their satisfying chewiness. But for people with celiac disease—a type of  autoimmune disorder—eating foods that contain gluten can lead to a cascade of  nasty reactions, including damage to the small intestine, poor nutrient  absorption, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, anemia, and fatigue. Celiac  disease is surprisingly common, affecting about one in every 133 people,  according to an often-cited 2003 study from the University of Maryland center  for celiac research. There is no cure for celiac disease and no drugs that can  treat it; you can only manage the condition, by sticking to a gluten-free diet  for the rest of your life.
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, gluten  may still be bad for you, says Lara Field, M.S., R.D., a dietitian at the  University of Chicago’s celiac disease center. A rising percentage of people in  the United States consider themselves “gluten-sensitive.” “These people may have  a food intolerance or experience many celiac-type symptoms after consuming foods  that contain gluten,” says Field. Some may have a form of wheat allergy. If you  think you may have symptoms of a gluten intolerance, you can ask your doctor  about scheduling a blood test to find out for sure. You can also check out The  Gluten Connection, which has a simple self-test that can help you  identify gluten intolerance, along with a complete eating plan that’ll help you  go gluten-free with ease.

Should I avoid eating gluten even if I don’t have problems with it?

Gluten is also shunned by another group: People who simply think gluten  encourages weight gain and who claim to feel more energetic when they don’t  consume it. They say humans didn’t evolve the ability to digest certain  domesticated grains containing gluten, and that avoiding gluten leads to more  energy, better absorption of nutrients, and loss of excess weight.
Allen  Lim, Ph.D., a former exercise physiologist for Garmin-Transitions, believes that  going gluten-free has helped his team perform at a higher level. So does  Danielson, who, like any competitive cyclist, burns—and eats—an immense number  of calories and pays close attention to what seems to work. “After I started the  diet, I had better results. I didn’t feel as fatigued, and my recovery period  was quicker,” says Danielson, who puts in 6-plus hours during a typical training  session.
But this is anecdotal evidence; mainstream research still hasn’t  substantiated the claims of those who believe gluten is bad for everyone. “There  is no strong scientific evidence to support the assertion that avoiding gluten  leads to benefits for the general population,” says Tricia Thompson, M.S., R.D.,  author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and the website glutenfreedietitian.com.
Still,  cutting out gluten can lead to weight loss—but not for the reason gluten-free  advocates think. A strict gluten-free diet forces you to stay away from some  refined carbohydrates that can lead to weight gain, Field explains. And that,  she says, is where the weight-loss secret lies.
Gluten is found in many  of the familiar weight-gain culprits: pizza, beer, burgers, pancakes. “Gluten  itself probably isn’t the reason you’ve packed on pounds,” says  Field.
“Eating too many refined carbohydrates is what expands your  waistline.” Commit to staying gluten-free and your food choices can become a  snapshot of healthy eating—fruits, vegetables, brown rice, seeds and nuts, along  with meat, fish, eggs, and milk products.
Avoiding gluten also means  you’re likely to adopt other whole grains and flours that lack gluten, such as  buckwheat, quinoa, millet, teff, sorghum, and wild rice (which is not related to  white rice). These aren’t necessarily healthier options than gluten-rich wheat,  barley, or rye, but consuming a wider range of grains gives you even more  nutritional variety in your diet. (See “The New Power Grains,” on the next  page.) That’s another good thing.

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By Carl E. Long  

Samurai Education Commentary: The Risks and the Rewards of “Old School” Samurai TrainingI was recently surprised to learn that some members of the martial arts community believe that kumitachi (paired partner drills) with a live blade are no longer practiced during samurai education. They think that such samurai training died out because no one in modern society needs to expose himself to such dangers.

For people who want only a rudimentary taste of Japanese sword fighting, that belief may be accurate. But for those who value the work of all the martial artists in samurai history who devoted their lives to handing down the techniques and strategies used by their ancestors, it’s dead wrong. That’s because the men who’ve been entrusted with the stewardship of the sword arts and samurai education need to experience the control, focus, speed, timing and danger involved in samurai training.

Great swords are forged under extreme heat and pressure. So are great swordsmen. During the history of the samurai, such swordsmen have been considered the living embodiment of their art. It’s only in the live performance of the original techniques that they can display the abilities that have elevated them to master level. They didn’t begin their samurai training as masters. A unique regimen was developed to guide them through the samurai education process. Risk and danger were present from the beginning of their samurai training. As they became more adept, the risk and danger were elevated.

As part of their samurai education, new students of the blade are schooled in the fundamentals of the ancient fighting techniques. The movements they learn and the tools they use — wooden swords or dull metal swords — are designed to pose minimal risk. The omote or shoden techniques, which deal with the basics, are practiced first. The samurai education curriculum at this stage focuses on distance and timing, with speed being limited so that students will unconsciously absorb sensory input regarding the length of the weapons and the distances involved. Students undergoing samurai training learn their strengths and weaknesses before they think about those of their opponent. They’re guided by seniors, who strive to push them beyond their current understanding. Mistakes are pointed out and corrections made.

The second level of samurai education is referred to as chuden, or middle-level, transmissions. The curriculum revolves around timing and distance. The speed of the techniques doesn’t necessarily increase, but the response time shortens. Timing is still predetermined, and the distance between combatants is smaller, meaning that strikes arrive at their destination sooner. The risk of injury remains the same when a practitioner is paired with a person of equal or higher skill, but the potential severity of a mistake is greater.

Second-level students of samurai education go through a forging process during which their nerves are tested by intense training. They begin to comprehend the dynamics of combat in which timing and distance vary. Kihaku, or aggressive intent, changes according to the partner. Yoyu, or the ability to leave a margin for change according to the circumstances, is stressed. During paired drills, the attacks become more realistic. If a counter or block isn’t properly performed, the results quickly and painfully become apparent — which is why training weapons are still used at this stage of samurai training. Instruction and correction are given kindly and with the students’ best interests in mind.

Advanced students find themselves being initiated into the okuden, or innermost level of samurai training. Here, a push for deeper understanding and ability takes place. Sei to do (nonaction and action) is emphasized, as are rhythm and an intuitive connection between opponents. The student-teacher or junior-senior relationship manifests itself as a deep trust and respect for each other’s abilities and weaknesses. But trust is foremost.

Either person is capable of changing the technique when necessary but chooses not to out of respect for his partner. So within the parameters of these samurai training drills, the action and intent become very real, nearly identical to the original intent of the combat techniques. Mental discipline and an immovable spirit are byproducts of this type of samurai training. The mind and the moves must be razor sharp, which is why live blades are sometimes introduced during kumitachi.

Few people ever make it to this level of samurai education. Even fewer will experience it with a master swordsman. It’s marked by a relationship and understanding that develop over decades between members of a martial tradition. It’s not meant to be experienced by everyone, nor is it necessary for those who are capable to always address this level. Advanced samurai education is reserved for those who are willing to occasionally take risks to preserve a national treasure.

About the Author: Carl E. Long has earned advanced rank in  shorin-ryukarate, shito-ryu karate, Okinawan kobudo, aikido, shindo muso-ryu jojutsu and muso jikiden eishin-ryu iaijutsu. He’s the senior student of Masayuki Shimabukuro and the highest-ranked member of Jikishin Kai International under Shimabukuro. Long currently serves as vice chairman and director for the organization.

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From the Experts at Men’s Health

Prove you have what it takes to transform your body for good

Change your attitude; change your body. Yes, it’s that simple. Think about it: When guys start saying they don’t have the time, energy, or desire to exercise, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, you probably accomplish a lot in the day. In fact, you likely get done what you absolutely need to get done. But if you don’t truly classify working out as priority, you aren’t going to do it. And everyone knows it’s easier not to exercise, right?
Well, we say it’s not that hard to exercise. Especially when you use The Zero Excuses Workout. This three-day-a-week, fat-burning routine—designed by Men’s Health adviser Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S.— takes just 30 minutes from start to finish, including your warmup. And all it requires is pair of dumbbells. Can you wake up a half-hour earlier? Hit the gym on your lunch break? Skip an evening sit-com? Then you have the time. The question is: Do you have the heart—or do you have excuses?

DIRECTIONS Alternate between Workout A and Workout B three days a week, resting a day between each session. So in Week 1, you might do Workout A on Monday and Friday, and Workout B on Wednesday. In Week 2, you’d do Workout B on Monday and Friday, and Workout A on Wednesday. Before each workout, perform the Warmup, which will boost your calorie-burn, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your performance in the subsequent workout.

Warmup
Step 1
Complete the warmup exercises in the order shown. Do one set of each exercise without resting. Once you’ve completed the warmup, you’re ready to begin Workout A or Workout B (depending on the day).
                    Lateral Slide
Stand with your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your hips are just slightly higher than your knees.
My Men's Health Exercises

Shuffle to your left by taking a big step to your left with your right foot, then following with your left foot
My Men's Health Exercises

Slide about 10 feet, then slide back to your right. Each time you reverse directions counts as 1 rep. Do a total of 20 reps.
                    Walking Knee Hugs
                    Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Step forward with your right leg, bend your knee and lean forward slightly at your hips
My Men's Health Exercises

Lift your left knee toward your chest, grasping it with both hands just below your knee cap. Then pull it as close to the middle
My Men's Health Exercises

That’s one rep. Release your leg, take three steps forward, and repeat by raising your right knee. Continue to alternate back an
                    Split Jacks
                    Stand in a staggered stance, you right foot in front of your left. Simultaneously jump back with your right foot and forward with your left as you swing your right arm forward and above your shoulder and swing your left arm back. Continue to quickly switch legs back and forth as you raise and lower your arms. Each time you switch legs counts as one rep. Do 20 reps.
My Men's Health Exercises

My Men's Health Exercises

                    Prisoner Squat
                    Stand with your hands behind your head, chest out, and elbows back
My Men's Health Exercises

Keeping your torso as upright as possible, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as deep as you can
My Men's Health Exercises

Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps.
                    Inchworm
My Men's Health Exercises

Stand tall with your legs straight and bend over and touch the floor.
My Men's Health Exercises

Keeping your legs straight, walk your hands forward.
My Men's Health Exercises

Then take tiny steps to walk your feet back toward your hands.
                    Reverse lunge with Reach Back
                    Stand tall with your arms hanging at your sides. Lunge back with your right leg, lowering your body until your left knee is bent at least 90 degrees. As you lunge, reach back over your shoulders and to the left. Reverse the movement back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Complete all your reps, then switch legs and reach over your right shoulder for the same number of reps. Do 10 reps for each side.
My Men's Health Exercises

My Men's Health Exercises
Step 1
Do these exercises as circuit, performing one exercise after the next without resting. After you’ve done one set of each movement, rest for 90 seconds. That’s one circuit. Do a total of 3 circuits.
                    Dumbbell Pause Squat
                    Garb a pair of dumbbells and stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width
My Men's Health Exercises

Keeping your torso as upright as possible, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body as deep as you can
My Men's Health Exercises

Pause for two seconds, then push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.
                    Burpees
My Men's Health Exercises

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart
My Men's Health Exercises

Bending at your hips and knees, lower your body until you can place your hands on the floor
My Men's Health Exercises

Kick your legs backward into pushup position
                    Pushup
                    Assume a pushup position with your arms straight and your hands slightly beyond shoulder width. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles
My Men's Health Exercises

Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor
My Men's Health Exercises

Pause, push yourself back to the starting position, and repeat. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps.
                    Reverse Dumbbell Lunge
                    Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them next to your sides, your palms facing each other
My Men's Health Exercises

Step backward with your left foot and lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees
My Men's Health Exercises

Press your right heel into the floor and push your body back to the starting position.
                    Single-arm Dumbbell Row
                    Grab a dumbbell in one hand, bend at your hips (don’t round your lower back), and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbell hang straight down from your shoulders at arm’s length, your palm facing sideways; cross your other arm behind your back
My Men's Health Exercises

Without moving your torso, row the weight upward by raising your upper arm, bend your elbow, and squeeze your shoulder blades
My Men's Health Exercises

Pause, lower the dumbbell, and repeat. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, then switch arms and do another 10 reps.
                    Plank
                    Assume a pushup position, but with your elbows bent and your weight resting on your forearms instead of your hands. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. Now brace your core as if you’re about to be punched in the gut. Breathe deeply, and hold that position for 60 seconds.
My Men's Health Exercises
Workout B
Step 1
                    Dumbbell Split Squat
                    Holding a pair of dumbbells with your arms hanging at your sides, stand in a staggered stance, your right foot in front of your left
My Men's Health Exercises

Pause, lower the dumbbell, and repeat. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, then switch arms and do another 10 reps.
My Men's Health Exercises

Press your front heel into the floor and push yourself back to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 15 reps.
                    T-Pushup
My Men's Health Exercises

Grab a pair of hex dumbbells and assume a pushup position, your arms straight
My Men's Health Exercises

Bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor
My Men's Health Exercises

Push yourself back up, lift your right hand and rotate the right side of your body upward as you raise the dumbbell.
Workout B
Step 2
                    Single-leg Dumbbell Straight-leg Deadlift
                    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Lift one foot off the ground
My Men's Health Exercises

Without rounding your lower back, slowly bend at your hips and lower your torso as far as you comfortably can.
My Men's Health Exercises

Push through your grounded heel and raise your body back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
                    Bent-over T-Raise
                    Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips (don’t round your lower back), and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders at arm’s length, your palms facing forward
My Men's Health Exercises

Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders at arm’s length.
My Men's Health Exercises

Without moving your torso, squeeze your shoulder blades and raise your arms up and to your sides until they form a T
Workout
Step 2
                    Single-leg Dumbbell Straight-leg Deadlift
                    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length in front of your thighs. Lift one foot off the ground
My Men's Health Exercises

Without rounding your lower back, slowly bend at your hips and lower your torso as far as you comfortably can.
My Men's Health Exercises

Push through your grounded heel and raise your body back to the starting position. That’s one rep.
                    Bent-over T-Raise
                    Grab a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips (don’t round your lower back), and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders at arm’s length, your palms facing forward
My Men's Health Exercises

Let the dumbbells hang straight down from your shoulders at arm’s length.
My Men's Health Exercises

Without moving your torso, squeeze your shoulder blades and raise your arms up and to your sides until they form a T
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By: Myatt Murphy

You’ve put in the time. The sweat. Maybe the tears when you don’t see results. Quit blubbering. It’ll be fine.
Entering the weight room is the first step toward building muscle, but it’s not the last. What you do before, during, and after a workout can either negate your hard work or elevate your growth to a new level.
“Your personal habits, your social life, even which exercises you choose to do can take away from what you’re trying to build,” says Jeff Bell, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist and the owner of Spectrum Wellness in New York City. Bell and other experts helped us pinpoint seven factors that sabotage results. “Add them up and they could be why your muscles have nothing to show for all your time served,” Bell says.
Eliminate these seven saboteurs, then watch your muscles grow—with nothing holding them back.

Skipping Basics

Plenty of lifters believe that doing isolation exercises like chest flies and leg extensions is the only way to make their muscles grow. But basic moves such as bench presses and squats force several muscle groups to work together, imposing more stress on your body for bigger gains.
“Your body reacts to all that stress by having the anterior pituitary gland issue more growth hormone to compensate for the extra effort,” says Allen Hedrick, C.S.C.S., head strength-and-conditioning coach at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Of course you need variation, but don’t abandon basic moves in favor of intermediate isolation exercises.
Fix it: Write down the exercises in your routine to see what percentage of them are compound moves. “If it’s not in the range of at least 40 to 50 percent, then you’re doing too many isolation exercises,” says Bell.

Lunchtime Hoops

Playing sports too often can sidetrack your muscle-growth goals. Muscles typically need 48 hours of rest to adapt to the stresses placed on them during exercise. “Engaging in extra activity also makes your body more likely to use any excess calories it has for fuel, and not for rebuilding itself,” says Bell.
Fix it: “Pull your cardiovascular activity back to the bare minimum—20 minutes, three times a week—to see what effect it has on your body,” Bell says. If cardio is indeed stealing your muscle, you should begin to notice strength improvements—being able to lift more weight or complete more repetitions—within 2 to 3 weeks. If your primary goal is to increase muscle size and strength, and not necessarily to build your overall health, try pulling back further. Can’t miss a game? During your workout, ease up on the muscles you use most in your extra activity so they have more time to recover.

Smoking and Drinking

You know smoking is stupid. You know you’re gambling with cancer, stroke, and other health issues. But did you know you’re also sabotaging your strength training?
“Smoking places carbon monoxide in your system, which prevents your muscles from getting as much oxygen to use for energy,” says Scott Swartzwelder, Ph.D., a clinical professor of medical psychology at Duke University. “The less oxygen your muscles have to draw from, the less efficient they are at contracting, which can limit their capacity for work.”
As for alcohol, it can cover your abs with a layer of lard and interfere with hormones that help build them. “Drinking alcohol on a regular basis can also keep your testosterone levels lower than usual and decrease muscle mass,” says Swartzwelder.
Fix it: Quit smoking, and don’t worry about becoming a cold-turkey butterball. “Getting in at least 30 minutes of exercise three or four times a week not only helps control body weight, but can also produce positive psychological effects that might diminish the need to smoke,” says Swartzwelder. Drinking moderately (two drinks or less per day) won’t harm testosterone levels and can actually improve your cardiovascular health, he says.

Starvation

You need to eat after your workout. Right after a session, your body is hustling to convert glucose into glycogen so your muscles can repair themselves and grow. “If you don’t eat after exercise, your body breaks down muscle into amino acids to convert into glucose,” says John Ivy, Ph.D., chairman of kinesiology at the University of Texas.
Fix it: After you work out, eat a high-carbohydrate meal—and don’t forget the protein. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a four-to-one carbohydrate-to-protein ratio can provide 128 percent greater muscle-glycogen storage than a high-carbohydrate drink alone. (They used Endurox R Recovery Drink in the study.) For even greater results, have a sports drink before and during exercise.

Craig Ferguson

If you don’t get enough deep sleep, your muscles can’t recover. Moreover, says Catherine Jackson, Ph.D., chairwoman of the department of kinesiology at California State University at Fresno, when you work out on insufficient sleep, you exercise at a lower intensity than you realize—but you feel as if it’s high. So your muscles are less likely to receive enough stress to grow.
Fix it: Go to bed and wake up at set times every day, even on weekends, to keep your sleep cycles regular. Avoid caffeine—and perhaps exercise—for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. Elevating your heart rate before bed can interfere with sleep, Jackson says.

Sugar

Sugary drinks like soda can fool your body with a blood-sugar spike, making you prone  to skip “other, nutrient-dense foods you could be eating,” says Bell. If your sugar habit limits your intake of muscle-building amino acids, it will sap the fuel you need for your workouts, says New York City-based celebrity trainer Steve Lischin, M.S., C.P.T.
Fix it: Water and low-sugar sports drinks are your best bets. But sugar hides elsewhere. “Watch out for dried fruits, certain nutrition bars, and even ketchup,” Lischin says.

Thirst

For the active man, eating about a gram of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight helps build muscle—if the protein is processed correctly. “A high-protein meal has a slight diuretic effect,” says Lischin. When the body uses protein for energy, it has to remove the nitrogen component of the molecule to turn it into glucose. “This requires plenty of water,” he says.
Fix it: Drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day and divide your protein among five or six small meals throughout the day. “Eating an average of 25 to 30 grams each meal is ideal,” says Lischin. “Not only will you put less stress on your kidneys, but you’ll also utilize more of the protein you’re ingesting by giving your body only as much as it can use each time.”

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Americans think the body mass index can tell them if they’re  at a healthy weight. But they’re wrong
By Adam Eaglin

The next time you happen to catch a Minnesota Vikings game, take a look at  Adrian Peterson, the team’s 6’1, 217-pound running back. Now ask yourself: what  kind of physical characteristics would you attribute to him? Athletic? Lean?  Fit? All of these certainly sound like valid answers to us—but his clinical  classification might surprise you.
By any normal standards, Peterson is  one of the fittest men on the planet. But by our country’s system of measuring  body fat, he’s overweight. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard of  the ‘body mass index,’ or, as it’s more informally known, BMI. It’s a popular  formula used to not only gauge if a person is overweight or obese, but also how  great their risk is for future health problems.
BMI is a relatively  straight

forward equation that measures a person’s body fat by comparing their  weight to their height:
(Weight in pounds) / (Height in inches) (Height  in inches) x 703
You can also figure out your BMI without doing any math,  here: Log onto http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ for an online  calculator.
There are four different categories a person can fall into,  ranging from underweight to obese. They are:
*18.4 or lower:  Underweight. *18.5 to 24.9: Normal weight. *25 to 29.9: Overweight. *30  or higher: Obese.
According to the National Institutes of Health, being  overweight or obese by this measure can put you at risk for heart disease, type  II diabetes, and even some cancers.
But BMI doesn’t work well for  individual people. One of the formula’s obvious flaws, explains Alan Aragon, the Men’s Health Weight Loss Coach and a nutritionist in California, is  that it has no way of discriminating between fat and muscle—which is the case  with Peterson.
Part of the problem is that BMI was never designed as a  tool for judging any individual person’s weight—either by physicians or the  general public, says Timothy Church, a professor of health at Pennington  Biomedical Research Center. In fact, the formula was originally intended to  measure the collective weight of an entire population, but because of its  straightforward math and distinctive categories (i.e., if you score a 25 on the  BMI scale, you’re overweight), it soon also took off.
Here’s how BMI was  born: In the early part of the 20th century, medical studies began to show a  link between excess weight and an early death. So doctors and insurance  companies started to seek out an easy method to determine a person’s body-fat  percentage. Insurance companies were especially concerned with this task, and  devoted portions of their budget to discovering an obesity-determining  calculation.
It wasn’t, however, until physiology researcher Ancel Keys  published a study in 1972 called “Indices of Relative Weight and Obesity,” that  the modern version of BMI came about. Keys conducted a series of studies on male  populations in order to test if any pre-existing mathematical equations could  measure a group’s relative amount of body-fat. Fortunately for him, one did. The  “Quetelet Index,” (a.k.a., weight divided by height, squared) which was  developed by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet in the mid-1800s, proved to  be successful.
To Keys’ credit, he never intended for physicians or  insurance companies to use this equation—but BMI was just too perfect. Because  it was simply a math equation, it was quicker, easier, and cheaper to use than  more direct and accurate measures—like the underwater weighing test, which  measures how much you weigh by how much water you displace, and the skin fold  measurements, which calculates how much fat you have beneath your  skin.
“BMI was really pushed by [companies like] Metropolitan Life,”  Church said. “It was meant to give them an excuse to charge [their clients]  more.”
The formula received its official stamp of approval in 1985, when  the NIH cited it as the index of obesity, Ever since then, BMI has gradually  become more and more accepted—now it’s the standard, go-to formula for  determining what makes a healthy weight, even among regular people, says Frank  Hu, Ph.D., professor of health and nutrition at the Harvard School for Public  Health.
Another issue is gender. The Quetelet Index—and corresponding  Keys study—were both created from research on male populations. An entirely  different formula was originally used for determining obesity in female  populations, and yet, doctors use the same equation for both genders, says  Church. In the beginning, the NIH differentiated between men and women by  establishing different “thresholds” for one’s BMI, to account for the variance  between men and women in the equation. But even that difference dissolved in  1998. When pressed for the reasons why, an NIH spokesperson declined to  comment.
So why has no one tried to change the system? One reason is that  imprecise numbers from BMI aren’t dangerous, says Hu. And besides, doctors are  able to determine risk factors using other measurements.
Still, the  alternatives to BMI aren’t perfect either. The most common of which is the waist  circumference test, which measures abdominal obesity (a.k.a., the fat around  your stomach). It’s slightly better than BMI at measuring someone’s risk for  illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, say our experts, because it measures  fat specifically, instead of taking into account the weight of a person’s muscle  mass.
The truth is, people know if they’re overweight—so be your own  judge. Look in the mirror, monitor your jean size, and talk to your doctor. But  don’t rely on a flawed formula to determine your health status.

Read more at Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/truth-about-bmi?cm_mmc=BONL-_-815722-_-02152012-_-dek#ixzz1mYwOuiPX

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 By MensHealth

Guys tend to abandon the pushup for the bench press sometime around puberty. Which is why you usually have to wait in line at the gym for a bench while there’s always plenty of floor space. But the once-forgotten pushup has recently muscled its way back to the top of the exercise universe. Why? Because it not only builds a powerful front façade to your physique, but also develops the support system behind that musculature. “They’re also a great way to judge how strong you are relative to your body weight,” says Martin Rooney, P.T., C.S.C.S., author of Ultimate Warrior Workouts.
Test yourself by doing as many pushups as you can in 3 minutes. Rest whenever you want, but keep the clock running the whole time. Fifty-five is average, but if you can’t reach 75—what strength coaches consider “good”—then you need to either gain strength or lose weight. Our 14 pushup variations will help you do both. Weave them into your daily workouts to build strength, power, and sleeve-busting muscle.

The Classic

Good for: General upper-body conditioning
Balance your weight on your toes and palms, with your hands a comfortable distance apart, probably just beyond shoulder-width. Your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abdominals, and keep them that way for the duration of the exercise. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, pause, and push yourself back up. Repeat a few hundred times.
Variations: Three-point pushup (place one foot on top of the other to make the exercise a little more challenging); decline pushup (set your feet on a bench or chair to strengthen your shoulders); and triceps pushup (place your hands close together, directly under your shoulders, and keep your elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower your body—an adjustment that shifts the work from your chest to your arms).

Rotational Pushup

Good for: Athletic performance in sports involving torso rotation, such as tennis, hockey, and baseball
Assume the classic pushup position, but as you come up, rotate your body so your right arm lifts up and extends overhead. Your arms and torso should form a T. Return to the starting position, lower yourself, then push up and rotate till your left hand points toward the ceiling.
Variations: One-dumbbell (grip a dumbbell in one hand, rotate to the dumbbell side for half your repetitions, then switch the dumbbell to the other hand); two-dumbbell (grip dumbbells in both hands, and alternate sides when you come up).

Plank

Good for: Posture; midsection endurance and stability
Lie facedown, rest your weight on your forearms and toes, tuck your hips, and hold your body in a straight line from ankles to shoulders for 5 seconds. Do a total of 10 5-second holds.
Variations: When 5-second holds are easy, progress to longer holds, until you can stay in the position for 30 seconds. Next, try a regular push up position with your hips tucked. When you can hold that for 30 seconds, try it on your knuckles.

Barbell Pushup

Good for: Stability of midsection, shoulder; grip strength
Get into the classic pushup position with your hands on a barbell (the kind that can roll away if you don’t keep it steady). Knock out the pushups, but not yourself—keep in mind that one slip can send you crashing teeth-first into the floor.

Walking Pushup

Good for: Abdominal development; shoulder stability
Set up in the classic pushup position on a smooth floor, and place your feet on a towel. Walk with your hands across the room, turn, and walk back. Keep your back flat throughout the movement.

Plyometric Pushup

Good for: Developing upper-body power
Set up in the classic position on a well-padded carpet or exercise mat. Push up hard enough for your hands to come off the floor and catch some air. When you hit the floor, go immediately into the next repetition, pushing up again as hard as you can and catching more air.

Suspended Pushup

Good for: Upper-body strength and stability
Wrap a pair of straps (or chains) around a chinup bar or the crossbar of a power rack. At the bottom, the straps should be about 12 inches off the floor. Attach gymnastics-type rings (or a straight bar) to the ends of the straps. Grab the rings and do pushups, being careful to protect your lower back by keeping your core and glutes tight—as you should when you do any variation of the pushup.

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By: Allen St. John

Most of the time, it’s good that the little Vince Lombardi sitting on our shoulder tells us to shut up and play through the pain, otherwise we’d never get anything done. On the other hand, there are a few instances in which we can actually talk ourselves out of existence.
That’s what happened to NBC reporter David Bloom. While covering the war in Iraq from his specially outfitted armored vehicle, he began to feel pain behind his knee. He reportedly sought out medical advice by satellite phone, decided not to follow the advice—”Go to a doctor”—popped a few aspirin, and kept right on going. Three days later, Bloom died of a pulmonary embolism caused by deep-vein thrombosis. He was 39.
The ache that Bloom blew off is one of seven pains that no man should ever ignore. And no, this isn’t negotiable.

Sudden Groin Pain

Not as severe as a shot to the crotch, but pretty close. Sometimes accompanied by swelling.
The condition: Odds are it’s something called testicular torsion. Normally, a man’s testicles are attached to his body in two ways: by the spermatic cords, which run into the abdomen, and by fleshy anchors near the scrotum.
But sometimes, in a relatively common congenital defect, these anchors are missing. This allows one of the spermatic cords to get twisted, which cuts off the flow of blood to the testicle. “If you catch it in 4 to 6 hours, you can usually save the testicle,” says Jon Pryor, M.D., a urologist with the University of Minnesota. “But after 12 to 24 hours, you’ll probably lose it.”
Another possible cause of the pain in your pants: an infection of the epididymis, your sperm-storage facility.
The diagnostics: A physical examination, possibly followed by an ultrasound. Antibiotics can stifle an infection. And if your testicles are doing the twist? A surgeon will straighten the cord, then construct artificial anchors with a few stitches near the scrotum.

Severe Back Pain

Similar to the kind of agony you’d expect if you’d just tried to clean-and-jerk an armoire. The usual remedies—heat, rest, OTC painkillers—offer no relief.
The condition: “If it’s not related to exercise, sudden severe back pain can be the sign of an aneurysm,” says Sigfried Kra, M.D., an associate professor at the Yale school of medicine. Particularly troubling is the abdominal aneurysm, a dangerous weakening of the aorta just above the kidneys. But don’t worry; eventually, the pain subsides—right after your body’s main artery bursts.
A less threatening possibility: You have a kidney stone. More pain, but you’ll only wish you were dead.
The diagnostics: A CT scan using intravenous radiopaque dye does the best job of revealing the size and shape of an aneurysm. Once its dimensions are determined, it’ll be treated with blood-pressure medication or surgery to implant a synthetic graft.

Persistent Foot or Shin Pain

A nagging pain in the top of your foot or the front of your shin that’s worse when you exercise, but present even at rest. It’s impervious to ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
The condition: It’s probably a stress fracture. Bones, like all the other tissues in your body, are continually regenerating themselves. “But if you’re training so hard that the bone doesn’t get a chance to heal itself, a stress fracture can develop,” explains Andrew Feldman, M.D., the team physician for the New York Rangers. Eventually, the bone can be permanently weakened.
The diagnostics: Radioactive dye reveals the fracture in the x-ray, and you’ll be told to stop all running until the crack heals. Worst case, you’ll be in a cast for a few weeks.

Sharp Pain in the Abdomen

All the metaphors apply—knife in the gut, bullet in the belly, skewer in the stomach—except this attack is from within.
The condition: Take your pick. Since the area between your ribs and your hips is jam-packed with organs, the pain can be a symptom of either appendicitis, pancreatitis, or an inflamed gallbladder. In all three cases, the cause is the same: Something has blocked up the organ in question, resulting in a potentially fatal infection. Exploding organs can kill a guy. See a doctor before this happens.
The diagnostics: If the pain is in your lower-right abdomen and your white-blood-cell count is up, says Dr. Kra, it’s probably appendicitis (out comes the appendix).
Pain in your upper abdomen with high white blood cells usually spells an inflamed gallbladder (goodbye, gallbladder).
And if it hurts below your breastbone and certain enzymes in the blood are elevated, then pancreatitis is probably the culprit. (The pancreas stays, but a gallstone may be blocking things up. If so, the stone and the gallbladder may have to come out.)

Transient Chest Pain

Not a type of pain that strikes only homeless people, but a heavy ache that comes on suddenly and then goes away just as quickly. Otherwise, you feel fine.
The condition: It could be indigestion. Or it could be a heart attack. “Even if it’s very short in duration, it can be a sign of something serious,” says John Stamatos, M.D., medical director of North Shore Pain Services in Long Island and author of Painbuster.
Here’s how serious: A blood clot may have lodged in a narrowed section of a coronary artery, completely cutting off the flow of blood to one section of your heart.
How much wait-and-see time do you have? Really, none. Fifty percent of deaths from heart attacks occur within 3 to 4 hours of the first symptoms. You’re literally living on borrowed time. The diagnostics: A blood test checks for markers of damaged heart tissue. Treatment: angioplasty or bypass.

Leg Pain with Swelling

Specifically, one of your calves is killing you. It’s swollen and tender to the touch, and may even feel warm, as if it’s being slow-roasted from the inside out.
The condition: Just sit in one place for 6 or more hours straight and wait for the blood that pools in your lower legs to form a clot (a.k.a. deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT). Next thing you know, that clot will be big enough to block a vein in your calf, producing pain and swelling.
Unfortunately, the first thing you’ll probably want to do—rub your leg—is also the worst thing. “It can send a big clot running up to your lung, where it can kill you,” warns Dr. Stamatos. The diagnostics: A venogram, in which dye is injected into the vein and then x-rayed, is the definitive way to diagnose DVT. They’ll try to dissolve the clot with drugs, or outfit vulnerable veins with filters to stop a clot before it stops you.

Painful Urination

Relieving yourself has become an exercise in expletives. Also, you could swear (and you do) that your yellow stream has a rusty tint.
The condition: Worst case? Bladder cancer, according to Joseph A. Smith, M.D., chairman of the department of urologic surgery at Vanderbilt University. The pain and the blood in your urine are symptoms of this, the fourth most common cancer in men.
Smoking is the biggest risk factor. Catch the disease early, and there’s a 90 percent chance of fixing it. Bladder infections share the same symptoms.
The diagnostics: It’s a sick joke, but true nonetheless: They’ll diagnose by process of elimination. Urinalysis first, to rule out bugs, followed by inserting a scope to look inside the bladder. A tumor will be treated with surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy.

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