Starting a workout program

December 5, 2009

It’s not easy beginning an exercise program. Whether you’re getting back in the saddle or starting from scratch, where to begin can be overwhelming.

Let’s back up 21 months and 45 pounds ago. I’m 250 lbs and STRUGGLING. My eating was completely trashed and I hadn’t exercised consistently in years. I had gotten a grim look into my future the past year and a half with some health problems my Dad developed. I was heading down a slippery slope and had to make changes. Changing your eating habits takes discipline and time, so does developing the habit of exercise. I didn’t get where I was overnight and I wasn’t going to get back overnight either. That is the most important thing to remember. So, I made some small changes. Eat a little less, start making better food choices, and slowly start exercising.

 I picked up a copy of Combat Conditioning™, by Matt Furey. Matt is a HUGE proponent of bodyweight exercises. The big 3 of what is does is the “Royal Court” and involves Hindu (fast paced bodyweight) Squats, Hindu (divebomber) Pushups and a Wrestling Back Bridge. I started a morning routine of the squats, pushups and stretching. Sometimes I’d do the bridge, sometimes I’d use a stability ball for a nice back stretch. Now, I’ll say this, the bridge is tough and should be attempted with caution. For how to do these, you can google them and get good form examples. I’ll say this also, doing the bridge correctly will stretch you from your head to your tailbone.

 Here is the breakdown –

               Squats 15-20

               Divebomber pushups 10

               Stability ball stretch or bridge 1min

Repeat 2-3 times, for a total of 3-4 sets, resting a minute or two between sets

That circuit can be done in less than 15 minutes. It was a start to consistent exercise and I slowly worked up to sets of 30 squats and 20 divebomber pushups. I started seeing results and I wasn’t killing myself to do it. The main reason why exercise programs fail is people expect too much, too soon, try to do too much too quickly and either get too sore or too frustrated, or both. Start slowly and let your body adjust to the new workload.

 That was definitely a beginner’s circuit. It can be taken a bit further.

                20 bodyweight squats

               20 pushups

               30 second plank

               10 jumps

               10 incline pushups

Repeat the circuit, resting as necessary, as many times as you can in 20 minutes. It’s great if you’re traveling and don’t have access to any equipment, or if you just don’t have much time to get to the gym.

One of the main concepts of this blog is to help busy people get the most out of their workout time. A workout like this will use a lot of your large muscle groups with each movement, better known as multi-joint exercises. This means that you can stimulate a lot of your muscle fibers in a short amount of time. An advantage of these types of exercises is that the movements are more applicable in real life as compared to the isolation exercises that most people do in a gym. Oh yeah, they are also more effective at increasing muscle size and strength. Ladies, don’t worry about getting too bulky. With your genetic makeup, most of you will really have to work at getting bulky. Adding a bit of musculature has another nice benefit. It increases your metabolism, so you burn more calories even when not exercising. Check this link from ask Men, multi joint exercises and see what you think.

Back to time, we only have so much of it each day. Think you don’t have the time to go workout, even at home? I would suggest this – Yes, 30-45 minutes of exercise each day is great and necessary. If you don’t have 30  or 40 minutes and can break it up into two 15-20 minute sessions you’ll make some headway, especially if you’re just starting out. Plus, its way better than not working out at all and you can do it like this. Do a circuit like what is outlined above for 10, 12, 15 minutes first thing in the morning, if that’s all the time you have. If you can find another 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the day, then BAM, you’ve got 20 or 30 minutes of exercise time. Plus, if you know you’re only going for 10 or 15 minutes, then you can up the intensity on each session which will take us to another post on High Intensity Intervals and Kettlebells at another time. In short, high intensity training can take your workouts to a different level and mixed into a normal routine can spice it up and keep your workouts fresh.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll give the ideas a try and see how it works for you. As always, I appreciate any comments and thoughts you have.

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