This is day 3 of the first edition of the book 2 Weeks to Health, a 2-week course designed to kick start a healthier life. The expanded and reworked second edition is set to be released in the summer of 2018.
You’re never too busy, it’s just a matter of priorities.
Welcome to day 3! Today we are going to discuss your options for how to get into a workout routine. I’m going to go step by step and introduce you to the different tools you can use!
While it is not required to have a gym membership to exercise, and actually at least a quarter of my workouts do not take place in a gym, this is by far the most common method people take when they decide to improve their health. I see it every year at New Year. On January 1st people flood to the gym with their New Year’s resolution to lose weight, but they never know the commitment it takes and give up when they are two weeks in with no results. That is why it is important to remain mentally strong and to stay motivated.
If you have the money and the time to commute to the gym, I highly recommend you buy a membership and then take advantage of what the gym has to offer. A busy gym can be intimidating because you are waiting for machines that you maybe do not even know if you want to use. Because of how intimidating it can be, I recommend you work out with a personal trainer for at least the first week to learn the basics. If you can’t afford a trainer, I will give you a few tips to get you started (we will talk about more detailed workout planning on day 12).
When you go to the gym, your workout will depend heavily on the time you have and your current fitness levels. This means it would be impossible for me to write a workout plan for you without meeting you. It will be up to you to decide what exactly to do, but here is a skeleton outline of one possibility:
Monday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of ab exercises, 20 minutes of jogging or walking, 5 minutes of cooling down, 10 minutes of stretching
Tuesday: 5 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of chest exercises, 15 minutes of arm exercises, 10 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of stretching
Wednesday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of leg exercises, 20 minutes of cardio on a stationary bike, 5 minutes of cooling down, 10 minutes of stretching
Thursday: 5 minutes of stretching, 15 minutes of back exercises, 10 minutes of shoulder exercises, 15 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of stretching
Friday: 5 minute warm up on an elliptical, 15 minutes of walking or jogging, 15 minutes on a stationary bike or elliptical, 5 minutes of cooling down, 15 minutes of stretching
This is a very basic outline and assumes you have about an hour to workout. Adjust it as you need to, but remember, right now I don’t really care what you are doing as long as you are doing something every day. Use these workouts as a guideline for now, and we will talk more about this when we discuss detailed workout planning.
Whenever I tell you to do a certain type of exercise (like arms or abs), I recommend you do a little bit of research online to figure out what workouts you can do for them. If you google “arm exercises” you will find thousands of websites and applications that want to show you, for free, a large variety of arm exercises. Just a little bit of research will point you in the right direction. I would have provided a comprehensive list of exercises in this book, but there are already so many great websites that are already doing this. Also, do the same searches for stretching. For example, if you have a bad back, Google search “stretches for a bad back”. It is amazing what loosening your body after sitting all day at work can do for your mobility and overall health.
There are a lot of specialized websites and applications you can use to learn more about workout planning, and I encourage you start learning what does and does not work for you. I caution you, many of them will say ‘get [insert word here] quick’. Don’t be tricked by the get fit quick craze, this isn’t about quickness, it’s about long term sustainable results.
I highly recommend you hire a personal trainer for at least the first week or two if you can afford one. A personal trainer will give you workouts that will push you and match your fitness level. Also, by setting an appointment with a personal trainer you will be less likely to miss a workout. Your gym will have personal trainers available for you to hire. Personal trainers will keep your goals in mind, show you new exercises, they are great to talk to, and they are often great to look at.
Signing up for classes is another great way to hold yourself accountable and have fun while working up a sweat. Your local gym will have a class list available, and there may be smaller gyms around town that focus on a certain type of class. Some classes to look out for are Yoga, Bodypump, Zumba, Bootcamp, spin classes, CrossFit, and TRX. Talk to a representative at your local gym to see what they have available!
Ask your friends what they are doing to stay in shape, and ask if they want to be your workout buddy. Be careful about what friends you ask. If you have a friend who is pretty fit and frequents the gym, they would be a good person to ask to tag along with. This way you knock out two birds with one stone, you catch up with a friend and fit in your workout for the day. You should avoid working out with friends who are less fit than you are, or friends who know less about health and fitness than you. You want to work out with someone who is going to push you, not someone who will hold you back.
If you can’t afford a gym membership or you are stuck in the house then don’t worry. In a recent survey, we discovered that only 29% of people who reach their weight loss goals had a gym membership. There are plenty of ways to get fit at home. First, I encourage you to go for walks or jogs outside when the weather is reasonable. From my personal experiences, there is almost nothing that feels better than completing an outdoor run when the weather is beautiful (especially if you are finishing it at sunrise). If you have the money you can also buy home gym equipment such as a stationary bike, a treadmill, or free weights so you never have to leave the house to workout.
Calisthenics are also very easy to do at home. Some of the most difficult full body workouts I’ve ever completed occurred without any weights or equipment. You would be amazed at how much you can improve at home from 30 minutes of calisthenics. If you are struggling to fit in a workout during the day, then if you have 5 minutes a few times per day, spend that down time doing some sit-ups, lunges, or jumping jacks, or just something that gets your heart rate up.
Another at home workout method is to purchase a workout DVD or application. There are hundreds of DVDs and YouTube videos that you can exercise along with at home. With so many it can be hard to decide on which one to buy. I recommend trying out P90X, but other brands are definitely worth trying. You can find recommended workouts in the 2WeekstoHealth.com store.
If money is a significant concern but you want to spice up your workouts, there is very cheap exercise equipment you can buy to use at home. A jump rope only costs a couple dollars and is a great way to get your heartrate up and to exercise your legs. A medicine ball can increase the effectiveness of your core workouts, and add some additional challenge to your upper body workouts such as push-ups. Also, you can exercise almost every one of your muscle groups with a set of cheap resistance bands. These can also be purchased in the 2WeekstoHealth.com store.
If you have a smartphone then there are several applications that you can exercise with. Go to your app store and search for fitness applications, and you will find they have workouts for almost everything! Also, video websites such as YouTube have thousands of videos posted by personal trainers that take you through full workouts. Definitely take advantage of all the free workout videos online.
Time Management and Prioritization:
Your day is already packed and it can be difficult to make time for working out, which is why it is important to properly manage your time and prioritize your workout. Whatever you currently do to manage your daily schedule, make sure you physically write in a time to exercise. By putting your workout plan in writing you will be more likely to complete it. If you are having trouble finding time to exercise, then this is where it becomes increasingly difficult. The solution to not having enough time is making sacrifices for your health. Think about what you are currently doing and what can be moved or eliminated so that you have the proper time to work on yourself. For example, maybe you don’t need to go out with your friends 4 days per week, watch hours of Netflix, spend time on social media, or even sleep a full 8 hours per night. Some things you will need to sacrifice to improve your health, even if you need to lose an hour of sleep (although don’t go below 7 hours of sleep).
Regardless of how you are exercising, you need to keep your heart rate up. If you are unsure if your heart rate is getting high enough, then I encourage that you buy a sports watch that shows your heart rate. Your target heart rate is a factor of your age, so if you are 30 years old you have a different target than if you are 50 years old. Here is a guide by the American Heart Association that tells you what your target heart rate is when exercising.
||Target Heart Rate Zone (50-85%)
||Average Maximum Heart Rate (100%)
||100 – 170 beats per minute
||200 beats per minute
||95 – 162 beats per minute
||190 beats per minute
||93 – 157 beats per minute
||185 beats per minute
||90 – 153 beats per minute
||180 beats per minute
||88 – 149 beats per minute
||175 beats per minute
||85 – 145 beats per minute
||170 beats per minute
||83 – 140 beats per minute
||165 beats per minute
||80 – 136 beats per minute
||160 beats per minute
||78 – 132 beats per minute
||155 beats per minute
||75 – 128 beats per minute
||150 beats per minute
Do these sound too difficult?
You may be reading this thinking ‘there is no way I can do any of this’. If this is you, then do what you can, but remember to do something every day. Start by walking up and down the stairs a few times, or walking a couple blocks outside. Slowly increase your intensity, and make sure you are reaching your target heart rate. You will slowly start getting stronger, and you will go back and read this knowing that you are ready for the next step. No matter what your starting point is, you can finish in the best shape of your life.