I’ve had people approach me about making a workout program for folks trying to get back into shape, usually without needing to visit a gym. I believe this would work well for both sexes, too. It assumes you do not have major disabilities.
Here is what I’ve made:
So, the gist of this is to give you something that is doable and doesn’t consume lots of time. I don’t enjoy spending huge portions of the day exercising inefficiently, and I assume you feel likewise. Here’s a suggested workout schedule:
Monday: Walk at least 30 minutes outside. Try to go 60 minutes. You DO NOT have to do that crazy power walking where you see women swinging their arms like an SS soldier. Keep a brisk pace. Don’t go super-fast, but don’t move like a turtle either. If it rains, you might not be able to walk. If you have an indoor track somewhere, I would utilize that. Make sure you have good shoes.
Tuesday: Upper Body Calisthenics. You may not have the equipment, but that’s fine. It’s easy to accomplish quite a lot with nothing more than a little space (outdoors or indoors). Here are some exercises –
- Push-Ups—do 10 of these.
- This might not seem like much. That’s because you should do them SLOWLY and with a full range of motion. Don’t do those puny ones where you don’t touch the floor. It’s better to do fewer push-ups with good form than a ton of sloppy ones.
- Bench Dips—do 12 of these
- You can do these off any stable surface (even a bed if it’s firm enough). It should hit the triceps a lot. Here’s a demo.
- Alternating Thigh Taps—do this until FAILURE (when you’re too tired to continue doing more).
- This is actually more abdominal oriented, but it also gets rotation of the shoulders, which is critical. You don’t want bad shoulders or the pain that comes with them. Here is how to do it.
- Incline Push-Ups—do 15 of these
- These should be a little easier, so you can do more of them. All you need is any surface to incline yourself. Check out this demo: (1) What Do Incline Push-Ups Work? : Working Out – YouTube
- External Rotations—do 12 of these on each side; this is critical for shoulder health as well.
- Here is a demo on how to do it. This does not require much weight.
Do five sets of these. Try to take no more than 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Your goal is to do the workout, exhaust yourself (don’t leave a lot left in the tank), train the muscle groups, and be done with it.
Wednesday: Lower Body Calisthenics. For “leg day,” you probably only want to do this training once per week. Leg muscles take longer to heal (especially glutes), so you don’t want to overdo it, especially considering that walking on the other days exerts the legs as well. The main things to focus on with legs are squatting and lunging. Here are some exercises –
- Forward Lunge—do 15 of these with each leg
- Do them like this: (1) The ONLY Way You Should Be Doing Lunges! (Build GREAT Legs) – YouTube
- Side Lunge—do 10 of these with each leg
- Do them like this (don’t twist your knee): (1) Lateral Lunges…You’re Doing It WRONG – YouTube
- Body-Weight Squat—do 20 of these
Do five sets of these. Try to take no more than 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Once again, your goal is to do the workout, exhaust yourself (don’t leave a lot left in the tank), train the muscle groups, and be done with it.
Thursday: Same as Monday
Friday: Same as Tuesday (it’s reasonable to replicate upper body training twice a week; just make sure you give at least 48 hours of rest)
Saturday: Same as Monday
Sunday: Same as Monday or take a rest day. I walk basically every day unless the weather stinks, but you’ll have to gauge your stamina level and muscle endurance. The point is not to do a certain amount of anything, but to challenge and exert yourself without falling apart.
Notice that this doesn’t involve excessive training several days a week. I believe that most people over-train and demoralize themselves with recurring injuries. You may also notice that it involves a lot of walking. I’m convinced more and more that this is one of the simplest and least taxing ways to train your body. It’s great for posture too. I rarely do much other cardio these days. If I do, it’s not hours of jogging all over the place. As far as these exercises go, if you don’t understand any of them, check out the video demonstrations. There are plenty of YouTube folks who make demos and explanations. If anything gets too easy, research more advanced exercises or you could always reduce the time you take in between sets. Always be sure to hustle.
Like you’ve heard me say before, this is the area that makes the most difference. It’s 75% of the equation. You’ll hear people say, “you can’t out-train a poor diet.” I would look at your sugar consumption (including sugar-like substances) and attack that. This could mean fasting from ALL sugar for every day but Sunday. You might not be ready for that yet. Another approach could involve limiting sweet drinks to no more than once a day. Also, I would focus on eating whole foods that you get from a grocery store, less from restaurants. Meat and eggs are my weapons of choice. I think it’s what satiates men the best and they’re free from carbs. Carbs are a problem for most people.
What should you eat before/after workouts? For walking, it’s irrelevant. If you want to do more intense cardio at some point (I sprint sometimes), don’t eat anything before cardio. You might drink coffee for the energy, but never eat before cardio. Fasted cardio is the best approach. For upper-body/lower-body training, make sure you’ve eaten somewhat recently beforehand so that you have some fuel, but I focus more on what to eat after the workout. You’ll want to consume some protein or healthy carbs within 30 minutes (at least within 60 minutes) of a calisthenic workout. It helps your muscles to heal and grow faster.