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Best Workouts for Every Age

The way you age is determined by more than just your DNA. The latest research reveals that exercise can help delay and even reverse aging's debilitating effects on your muscles, heart, and brain. The only side effect? You will also look your best.

Men's Health talked to the world's leading cardiologists, neuroscientists, nutritionists, and trainers to create this master plan for your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. It can help you anticipate your body's physiological shifts, and then guide you through critical adjustments to your workout and diet to match them. Yes, you will grow older, but you'll also grow stronger and even smarter.

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Feel Great in Your 20s

Best Workouts"In your 20s, you have a wonderful ability to execute intense, heavy, frequent exercise," says Alexander Koch, Ph.D., an associate professor of exercise sciences at Truman State University. "Don't blow the opportunity."

Workout Tips for Your 20s

Master the Muscle Trinity

There"s no faster way to build muscle than with low-rep, heavy-resistance routines based on the fundamental strength exercises: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift, says Mike Robertson, C.S.C.S., an Indianapolis-based trainer. Use these tips to do each exercise better. Squat: Keep your chest up and back naturally arched, and turn your knees out during the movement. Bench press: As you push the weight up, keep your shoulder blades back and down, and tighten your leg muscles. Tuck your elbows close to your sides. Deadlift: Keep your chest up and back flat, squeeze your glutes, and push from your heels on the lift.

Accelerate Strength Gains

Power is a function of strength and speed working in concert, so when you"re in your 20s, your training should also include plyometric exercises, or explosive movements. "Jumps allow strength to be converted to power," says Boyle. "Think of it this way: Jumps train mainly your nerves, while weights train your muscles." In fact, along with helping you gain speed and power, doing plyometrics also builds new muscle, according to a 2008 Danish study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Build a Body She’ll Desire

Don"t deny your vanity; just remember who you"re trying to impress. In a landmark Harvard study, male undergraduates were asked to choose which bodies they wanted to have from a range of composite images. On average, the guys chose bodies with 30 pounds more muscle. By contrast, when women were asked to select men"s bodies they found attractive, they chose guys with 15 to 30 pounds less muscle than the male participants had selected. "The ideal is closer to Derek Jeter"s body than that of Barry Bonds ," says Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and co-author of the study.

Fuel Up on Super

Protein is the key nutrient for building muscle. And all men, especially guys in their 20s, should take in at least 30 percent of their total calories from high-quality protein sources like lean meats, fish, dairy, and poultry, says Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., an assistant director of UCLA"s center for human nutrition. Eat 1 gram of protein for each pound of your target weight. For instance, if you weigh 200 pounds but want to weigh 180, eat 180 grams of protein a day. To speed recovery from power workouts, drink a shake made with at least 20 grams of whey protein powder, 1/3 cup milk, 1 cup cranberry juice, and 1 cup frozen mixed berries (which are inflammation fighters).

Related: Best Summer Bodies of 2012

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