At some point post-college, leaving your torso naked for daily activities doesn’t make sense anymore. It doesn’t look natural. It doesn’t feel practical. After the days of frolicking on front lawns and football fields sans shirt are over, it’s time to start considering the general public that doesn’t wish to gaze upon every dude’s sweaty flesh.
But that doesn’t mean you should give up on that feeling of pure freedom while working out and running this summer. We know that working out shirtless has plenty of benefits: No nipple chafing on long runs, less laundry at the end of the week, and a perfectly line-less tan. Plus, this dude got 900 (hot girl) friend requests overnight when he went running without a shirt and got caught on camera.
So to create the ultimate guide on going shirtless, we caught up with Aaron Williamson, former Marine and fitness consultant to our current cover guy Zac Efron. Here are his do’s and don’ts of going shirtless, confidence tricks to take it off, and the workout that will get your body ready for some shirt-shedding.
First, know where it’s OK to go shirtless and when to keep it on
Pick the right place
First of all, it’s important to discern where it’s okay to run around half-naked and when it’s best to keep covered up. “I think it’s open to many different opinions,” says Williamson. But, keep these loose guidelines in mind:
Green light to take it off
Beach, Track, Trail
“Outdoor training can be quite comfortable for most people training shirtless because you’re not confined to a small space where you might be running into people or have to worry about cleaning up after yourself. Plus, you get the benefits of a little Vitamin D from the sun,” says Williamson.
“Many hardcore, old school gyms typically don’t mind members training shirtless because it fits the atmosphere of the gym,” says Williamson.
“I’ve noticed that many CrossFitters train shirtless because clothing can be restrictive in some of the movements they must perform during their workouts or they just get too hot,” Williamson says. No one wants to be in the 5th minute of a WOD snatching their brains out and thinking about a tri-blend aggressively massaging them into asphyxiation.
Keep your shirt on
“Most chain gyms don’t allow members to train shirtless for hygiene reasons—as well as trying to keep the atmosphere for other members comfortable,” says WIlliamson.
If you’re in a major American city or in a town where the sidewalks are full of pedestrians, keep your shirt on.
Next, follow these etiquette rules
The rules of etiquette
“My thoughts on working out shirtless are pretty simple,” Williamson says.
1. Make sure you have a towel to clean up after yourself, and if you sweat profusely, make sure you have at least two towels or a beach-sized towel. I don’t think anyone wants to use a piece of equipment that has sweat all over it. That’s pretty gnarly and unsanitary.
2. Wear deodorant. This is a must and it’s just common courtesy.
3. Be respectful and have situational awareness. There’s nothing worse than to walk in somewhere and see a guy so into himself that he actually becomes a safety hazard to the gym and the others around him.
1. Don’t be arrogant about it and make others feel uncomfortable. There’s a different between being confident & being arrogant. Don’t be one of those guys.
2. Don’t walk around flexing and admiring more than you’re training. Those guys ruin the training vibe and waste space that others are trying to use.
3. If you’re a human faucet, no matter how good of shape you’re in, don’t take your shirt off.
Then, own it with these confidence tips
Get those confidence gains
Taking your shirt off in public can be a pretty frightening thing. We tend to be worried about what other people think. “Even with me being in the shape I’m in, I don’t always feel comfortable taking my shirt off, mainly because I’m not where I want to be physically,” Williamson admits. “I believe most of us these days have some sort of body dysmorphia and that can be detrimental to a person’s confidence.”
However, when you really get to the point, it doesn’t matter what others think of your body. “That’s the bottom line here. So what if someone gives you a weird look?” Williamson says. “If you’re out there training than that’s something to be proud of because it takes effort to do that. You’re already ahead of so many others. Not everyone is an athlete. Not everyone is a physique competitor. Not everyone is supposed to be in amazing shape year round. There’s this thing called “life” that throws you curve balls and you have to deal with that. Full time jobs, kids, family, hardships, stress—these are all potential obstacles that most people deal with on a daily basis.”
The fact that you’re putting in the effort to train—that should be all you need to think about. “I say if you want to be shirtless, just rip the damn thing off—go full throttle! You never know, conquering one fear like this could lead to the confidence to conquer other fears. It’s all in your head!”
Aaron’s Baywatch Shirt-Shed Workout
1-minute warm-up: Jumping jacks.
30 second sets of the following exercises. Take no rest in between exercises until the entire circuit is completed:
Planks (30 seconds)
Plank Push-ups (30 seconds)
Plank Jacks (30 seconds)
Plank Knee to Elbow (30 seconds)
Side Plank wth Roll Through (30 seconds)
Mountain Climbers (30 seconds)
Take a 1-minute rest then repeat.