The 4 Best Workouts for Men in Their 20s

laying on a gym mat outside

A man in his 20s resting after a workout |

For men in their 20s, the zenith of physical prowess and dexterity is likely at hand. Your 20s are a time when you have successfully navigated puberty and the teenage years, reached physical maturity, and are likely done growing — unless you’re growing in width. Because of that, you’re body is in its ‘final form’, more or less, meaning that for the vast majority of men, it’s not going to get any better. In a physical sense, anyway.

Once you reach your 30s, studies show that testosterone levels begin to wane, and the aging process starts to kick in, slowly but surely. Add on to that the fact that your 30s are more of a ‘settling period’ for many men — meaning that they’re getting married, starting families, and generally spending more time focused on things besides hitting their personal deadlift record. Those factors, compounded, have lasting effects on your body.

Keeping in mind that time is, in fact, the destroyer, your 20s are a time when it’s a great idea to get in shape, and stay in shape. Laying down a solid foundation of muscle during this time is key — especially since you’ll be more prone to injury and fatigue as you age. Also, establishing healthy habits — like eating properly and going to the gym regularly — can become more difficult as you get into your 30s and 40s. Your 20s are generally a freer time, and as your life begins to fall into place, it’s a good idea to have your fitness in check, and your habits set in stone.

So, for those of you in your 20s, who want to set yourself up for a fit and healthy lifestyle as you age, investing some time into devising a diet plan, workouts, and establishing goals is incredibly important. The problem is, it can also be a real challenge. While a diet plan and goals will vary from person to person, we’ve chosen a few workouts that should get you started on the right foot — and which, of course, can be tailored and customized as you go.

Here are four workouts that are perfect for men in their 20s.

1. A focus on the big three

weighted squats

A man performing a squat |

If you want to get a head start in your 20s, dedicate some significant time to mastering the big three compound lifts: the bench press, squat, and deadlift. From these three main lifts, you can build any number of workout routines to help you reach your goals. These lifts are incredibly important, and should form the bedrock of any regimen you put together. But getting them down is of paramount importance — and the earlier, the better. You may have already done some of these lifts as a teenager, but now that your body has reached full maturity, it’s time to cement in your form, and start focusing on getting your numbers up.

2. A simple PPL routine

triceps extension

Tricep extension |

For the uninitiated, PPL stands for stands for “push, pull, legs.” Essentially, a PPL workout routine will cycle between these three things on any given day. And this basic format is an excellent way to put together a customized workout agenda.

For example, on day one, you will work on push exercises — meaning that you will be pushing the weight away from your body. Think overhead presses, bench presses, etc. On day two, you’ll be pulling, or bringing weight toward your body. That can include things like pulldowns and rows. Finally, day three focuses on the legs. Calf raises, leg curls, etc.

The PPL is a great format to adopt, and will set you up for a lifetime of healthy habits as you get older. It also provides plenty of wiggle room for adaptation in case of injury or shifting goals.

3. Balance/flexibility/cardio

dumbbell push-ups

Balancing |

Some trainers suggest going above and beyond simple lifting routines, and incorporating exercises that help you work on other aspects of your physical fitness, including balance and flexibility. This is a great idea, because as we age, our balance and flexibility can waver — but by training our muscles and nerves to coordinate more efficiently, we can stave-off those processes. Also, getting a good dose of cardio is an excellent idea. There are numerous workouts that can be pieced together with this format. Just look around.

4. Starting Strength

barbell training

Barbell training | Starting Strength via Facebook

Mark Ripptoe’s Starting Strength program has hordes of disciples. The program, and corresponding texts, cover the basics of barbell training, and the body’s natural movements. In a straightforward way, the program will get you on a progressive lifting schedule that should see you posting big gains, and looking better in no time. We previously wrote about the program on our list of ideal weight lifting programs for beginners, and if you’re in your 20s and looking for a workout to start with, this one might be it.