I fall on and off the workout wagon on a regular basis, but these days, I’m trying to let myself off the hook a bit more, and, instead of beating myself up for not being more consistent, I just do something (I’m trying to use this mentality in all aspects of life actually). I’ve noticed over the past few years that when it comes to fitness, I try center my efforts around two basic ideas:
- The strategy of the minimum effective dose. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so MED has basically become one of my life mantras. Why do 60 minutes of something when ten is just as or more effective? Work smarter, not harder.
- Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. This goes with the just do something mantra above. I’m realizing that beating ourselves up when we can’t do something perfectly is just an excuse for inaction. For example:
- Overslept and don’t have time for a 20 minute workout before work? Just do some push ups or bodyweight squats while you wait for the shower.
- Sad about how careless people are about the environment? Teach your kids to care for creation.
- Didn’t make time to pray or meditate today? Take some deep breaths in bed before you fall asleep.
- Frustrated about what’s going on in the news? Pick one issue and make a phone call. Or go feed somebody you know in real life.
I realized the other day that I have two pieces of equipment (both relatively inexpensive) that enable me to stay relatively on track when it comes to working out, that both meet the above two criteria, and that I wanted to share with you. I’ll save the second one for another post, but the first one is the Gymboss timer or app. I have both, but I think I left the timer outside at some point. It has never really been the same since, but the app works as well if not better so I haven’t replaced it.
Basically, the Gymboss timer lets you setup your own interval workouts. I fell in love with high intensity interval workouts after reading about the studies of tabata workouts back before I had kids. When the kids were smaller, I actually got more into lifting heavy at the gym (the free kids’ childcare likely had something to do with this newfound passion!). I loved getting stronger, but I didn’t love waiting around for the squat rack and my workouts taking at least 40 minutes. With the kids getting older and them not liking tagging along to the gym as much anymore, I much prefer to sneak in a workout at home with no commute.
December feels overwhelming when it comes to health and fitness because of all of the busy-ness of the season and the temptations all around, but I try to think of it as a practice round for the new habits and routines I want to focus on in the new year. I don’t beat myself up for missing workouts or having some Christmas cookies at the office; I try to just consider it part of the fun of December and get back on track with my next decision. So if you want to use December as a practice for 2018 too, I thought I would share a few of the “quickie” workouts that I use with the timer. These aren’t going to get you six-pack abs by Christmas (don’t get me started on that tangent), but they’ll get you moving and working up a sweat in fifteen minutes or less. Make sure you warm up first – I like this warm up if you’re looking for one, or I often do some sun salutations first thing, especially for morning workouts.
Over the Hump Day
Set Gymboss for two intervals of 30 seconds each for twelve rounds. You’ll work for 30 seconds, and then rest for 30 seconds, doing four rounds of the following three exercises:
Set Gymboss for two intervals – one for 40 seconds and one for 20 seconds – for twelve rounds. You’ll work for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds, doing two rounds of the following six exercises:
Set your Gymboss for two intervals – one for 40 seconds and one for 20 seconds – for twelve rounds. You’ll work for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds, doing three rounds of the following four exercies:
Once you get the hang of it, just make up your own workouts using the timer (here is a big list of body-weight exercises) making sure not to over do any one body part. I like to try to fit in a move from each of the following categories if at all possible:
- Pull (pulls are difficult to do without any equipment, but here are some ideas)
- Push (push ups are the classic body-weight push movement – here are some ideas to progress)
- Squat (some bodyweight variations)
- Hinge (bodyweight options here, but I like kettle bell swings best – stay tuned for next minimalist tips post for deets)
- Farmer’s walks/weighted carries (what are these and why to do them)
- I usually like to end my workout with these if possible. Or if I truly don’t have time for even twelve minutes, I just do a weighted carry down to the end of the driveway and back. I don’t even get sweaty, but I figure the longer I can carry heavy things, the better shape I’ll be in, so I try to do it as often.
I think I originally learned this “formula” from Dan John, but I like Pat Flynn’s super simple explanation and fun graphic of John’s principles. Let me know if you try any of these and what you think!
*Read this before doing any more burpees.