– By FastPaleo.com guest writer Isaac Glendening and John Edwin, CSCS
Ah YES! The common excuse most folks are quick to employ when discussing their training habits or lack thereof, and I’m going to give you a solution…a knowledge bomb that needs to be dropped…
Let’s say the average person’s main goal is to lose weight, which is fairly easy to assume considering the U.S.’s rising obesity rate in all age groups, and address that large cohort primarily here. Don’t worry skinny dudes looking to “bulk up,” I’ll get to you as well.
As much as I’m not into their marketing scheme, there are a ridiculous amount of “fitness facilities” cropping up all over who are offering no contracts and a monthly membership as low as $10/mo. Sure, with some of them you get what you pay for in terms of cleanliness and available equipment, fair enough. You also have to look past their free “pizza night” and “muffin breakfasts” as well as their claims to give away millions of tootsie rolls.
I’m not even making this shit up. So OK, take a breath, and sign up with mind enough to avoid these temptations and get to the point when you’re at said gym…DO WORK. Hmmm…You may be thinking you want to spend that money on cigarettes, alcohol or buy a lottery ticket when you pick up your morning coffee. OK, if that 10 clams is too much wampum for you, you don’t have to fork it over…
We have an even BETTER alternative, and it’s free. Yep, you’re getting a free, lifetime membership to an exclusive gym with a few catches. You even get to be creative and not have to work around the schedule of a gym’s hours of operation.
Your battleground is anywhere and everywhere and will take a little creativity…plus a few optional gadgets; the most essential being a watch. I bet you have a watch or a timer. In fact, I best most people don’t realize that their phones (smart ones or even my dumb, cheap-o one) have some of these tools built in and there are some fantastic and super cheap apps available.
Look to these guys for a bit of inspiration and creativity:
“ain’t no 24hr pass, it’s a ghetto pass”
For weight loss, look to do plyometric exercises in the form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I won’t go into great detail as to what plyometric movements are as I’m sure you have the internet in front of you right now and can easily look up a few. The four basic movements are push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and squats.
Doing variations on these four basic movements without the use of any machines will dramatically call other muscle groups to work in order to stabilize your body. In other words, you will engage your core more in order to keep good form and increase your balance overall. Not too shabby, right? Everyone wants to have sweet abs and not fall over if they trip in the street, right?
So here are two basic examples of an HIIT circuit that will help whip you into shape:
Let’s set our timer to 5 minutes and work on a 40/20sec split for each part of the circuit. You’re going to work for 40sec of each minute on one motion doing as many repetitions as you can and then the remaining 20sec do jumping jacks at high pace (active recovery). I understand that pull-up bars don’t grow on trees…but trees with branches that support your weight do the trick! Do bent rows with a log or lift up a park bench. Just be careful and test your surroundings first.
3min — jog for 20sec and sprint all-out for 20seconds until time is done
Circuit 1 — 5 minutes of each on a 40/20sec split
3) Jump squats
5) Full-range sit-ups
Rest no more than 2min between each and repeat 4+ times or mix it up by alternating with doing the next circuit
Circuit 2 — as many sets you can do:
5 jump squats
5 jumping jacks
When/if you fatigue, take no more than 10sec rest and pick up where you left off in the chain and remember to slow your breathing down in this time.
Those are just two, super basic circuits anyone can do at just about any time. Even if you can’t do one of them for whatever reason, let’s say your hotel room has a low ceiling, you can modify these motions to fit. Also consider the recent trend in Adventure Races such as the Tough Mudder, analyze the scheme of their courses and perhaps apply the concept of an obstacle course/routine to make the challenge to yourself more interesting. You may even want to sign up for one and use that as a motivator to kick your game up a bit.
How about we add one more long, adventuresome circuit with that “obstacle course” idea in mind:
40 seconds working on each movement and 20 seconds to jog/sprint/crawl to the next
1) Mountain climbers
2) Ab Jackknifes
3) Deck Squats
4) Monkey bars (yep, the real deal)
5) Walking Lunges
1) Bear crawls
2) Leap frogs
3) Sumo/plie squats
4) Single leg jump squats (20 seconds per leg)
5) Static core aka low bridge
For those looking to gain mass, one way to do it is pick two of these exercises, do them alone or in series together and s-l-o-w-l-y. For example, do a push-up and count 5 seconds down and 10 seconds coming up. That’s about 15sec for a single-rep and will stimulate muscle growth. Time yourself for 10reps, make note of that time and cut it in half to find your rest time between sets. So if it takes you 2min to complete 10 reps, try to rest less than a minute and start over.
I’m not a big fan of split-body workouts, mainly because nothing you do naturally truly isolates any one muscle group like resistance machines in your local gym or some of the exercises used in standard bodybuilder regimens.
If you have an impressive 1rep max bench press but can’t run up a couple flights of steps without getting out of breath, how healthy are you? Again, the point here is that you don’t need a traditional gym space or loads of gear to achieve your goals…or the standard gym-rat mentality!
Here are a few items I do recommend to add to your modest batman arsenal to help. Most cost less than $10.
-Pair of work or gardening gloves
-Strong, short towel or rope (for pulling motions)
(I rock a Gymboss one, but it was a whopping $20 and has served me well)
Dollar Stores, 5Below, and the like have these types of items at very reasonable prices.
There are loads of resources online that will arm you with variations on these motions. One I highly recommend is www.bodyrock.tv. While it may seem like exercise porn, and it kind of is, the trainer has some super-legit circuits she posts and fairly solid advice and…it’s FREE! She rarely uses many props for resistance, and the ones she does use can be modified with a little creativity which she often suggests as well.
Regardless of our various personal desires with self-image, the generally accepted goal is to have a balanced, healthy body.
“You should not have any special fondness for a particular weapon, or anything else, for that matter. Too much is the same as not enough. Without imitating anyone else, you should have as much weaponry as suits you.” — Miyamoto Musashi
Look at each of these motions as a weapon, each is a skill to be honed. Look for variety and try not to gravitate towards one because you may like having a big chest or cut abs. Add more tools, more movements to your toolbox and put them in a planned rotation.
I find the appearance of supposedly “fit” people with big guts or over-developed chests, shoulders and back but have a weak core to be almost sad. I can bet you, even if you do have access to a gym and employ these movements I’ve prescribed here in a logical pattern, you will find yourself closer to greater muscular balance and perhaps be less injury-prone as a result.
Most of us using this forum subscribe to the notion of doing things the way our ancestors did. Most of us don’t hunt every day for our meals or work a 12-hour day on a farm but we do know the kinds of movements these two lifestyles employ. Even with your more standard “cardio” exercises such as running, there is more than one direction besides simply “moving forward.”
Sprinting, climbing, pushing, pulling, jumping…these should ALL be verbs that can be used to describe your daily activity.
Make it happen.