Exercise! A word greatly demonised in the mind of comfort seekers worldwide. However, a lack of adequate vigorous movement (I will refrain from the dreaded ‘e’ word for now until I gain a rapport with you.) can lead to many and often avoidable illnesses. No one is saying to train like you going to be in the next Olympics, however you need to allow yourself to be active to reap the benefits of a more active lifestyle.
Movement, loaded or unloaded, has a positive effect on our minds, bodies and souls. I have found that people who are more active tend to be more cheerful, which is most likely a result of endorphins (a hormone released due to vigorous activity, which triggers a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine. The feeling has at times been referred to as ‘euphoric’ … Wow.)
The need for movement is of high priority in this ‘latest technology’, ‘user friendly’, ‘convenient’, ‘everything at your fingertips’ and yes ‘modern’ society. Now, am I against technological advancements and improvement and progression? No, not at all….I love my Smartphone! However, there is a lot to be said of the old days when it comes to the topic of health and well being. In these modern times there are more illnesses than ever, obesity is on the rise and the number of heart attacks in younger people has steadily increased. All of which can be deterred by exercise. Exercise that is done routinely and in a progressively overloading manner, that means coming out of your comfort zone…..just a little bit at a time.
I see that there are 2 main barriers when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle and exercising on a regular basis. Well, 3 actually! The third I will address, but the first 2 is what I commonly hear from people when exercise is suggested to them.
Time (or people’s perception of the lack of)
Money (closely linked to the 3rd reason)
The third is something that I feel occurs on a subconscious level and is a product of living in a consumer driven culture that places too much attention and extraneous meaning upon acquiring and hoarding material possessions, but I’ll go into that later.
As a personal trainer I have a love/hate relationship with excuses. I understand that life can get in the way sometimes and hinder you in your endeavours….I accept that. But think about it this way. If you fell ill, you would find the time and means to get to the doctor, no matter what! This seems to be the attitude with most things in life, except exercise. However, exercise is something that improves your existence for the time you are on the planet and decreases your visits to the doctor. So that covers the hate side.
The love side is activated when I offer solutions to the excuses. I love the problem solving process, the faces people make when the solutions are given, and the results that come from acting on the solutions. So it will comes as no surprise that the above excuses have been thoroughly dealt with. For all of the points above I give the ambiguous answer….”less is more”, but allow me to explain further.
Excuse #1: I don’t have enough time.
If that’s the case then either it’s time for a serious lifestyle change or an assessment of how to use your time. Whatever the case may be, in most situations the time ‘excuse’ is invalid and I’ll explain why I take this stance.
Believe it or not, less time can actually result in very effective workout. Whether your goal is fat loss, increased strength or increased general fitness. I love the challenge of developing an effective exercise program with time being the limiting factor. Let’s use the goal of fat loss as an example. It’s a common misconception that in order to achieve fat loss you need to partake in a ‘marathon style’ cardio activity. Nothing could be further from truth.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) offers a more potent and time efficient option for fat loss. East Tennessee State University conducted a study highlighting the effectiveness of this type of cardio. Participants took part in an 8 week HIIT program and as a result they dropped 2% in body fat compared to those who followed a continuous steady- state program utilising the treadmill, these participant experienced 0% of fat loss.
Excuse #2: I don’t have the money
Now let’s deal with money….the root of all evil….not at all, but it should be held responsible for the spreading of many a white lie. The most prominent one being; you need a plethora of equipment and expensive gym membership, and the latest shoe with a helium space bubble in the sole before acquiring a modicum of fitness.
Again, let’s relate this to the ‘less is more’ ethos. The less money you have, you can ‘afford’ to be more creative in achieving those goals. By having less disposable income, you have to be selective on whatever equipment (if needed) you are going to use. So let’s address the goal of putting on muscle and increasing strength, coupled with the fact that you have a lack of funds to dedicate to it. Should this equate to poor results? Not at all, and there is no need to use science or studies to substantiate my claims to a more minimalist approach to fitness. We’ll use the power of observation and intellectual reasoning to determine if money is a prerequisite in achieving a respectable level of strength and muscle growth. Let’s take a look at a gymnast that exemplifies all that can be attained with the use of minimal equipment. Predominantly they use nothing but their bodyweight…and yes, I know these are highly trained athletes but my point is to show you that the minimalist approach has a very strong case to argue for its effectiveness. However, we cannot all be gymnasts, so how does an everyday person like you and me pursue making ourselves stronger without the need for excessive equipment? Again, less is more!
Being a father, husband and earning a living are from amongst the many things that inspire me to be a stronger version of my current self. Being strong both mentally and physically can only be an advantage when it comes to the aforementioned roles. However, a balance must be attained so that everything gets its due attention. With that being the case, I strive to break things down to their bare essentials. The minimalist approach to gaining strength and muscle is truly a beautiful thing. It’s uncomplicated and it works. Why can’t everything in life be like this?
I feel the only things needed to get strong are:
- You (your bodyweight)
- A set of dumbbells (with various plates for when you get stronger. 50 kgs is more than enough to start with)
- A Sandbag
If you consider the yearly/monthly cost of a gym, the travel to get there, the waiting for that machine that targets the muscles in you eyebrow! Isn’t that time and money better spent on a few highly effective pieces of equipment? I cannot tell you the day last that I set foot in a gym. It has been ages! And I educate my clients on the benefits of training at home as I find those clients actually reach their goals quicker than those who make attaining their goals, location and financial dependent.
Now for my third point….
At times it’s tough to let things go and in the past I have had problems with this. This is the need to be a hoarder and justify it with a number of “sensible” or “cautious” reasons, such as, ‘you never know when you might need it’.
You know when you haven’t thought of it for 4 years, yet you can’t get rid of it because maybe, just maybe you might need it. Or even though that magazine you have has information from last century that is no longer relevant, you never know! Life has a way for rehashing things from the past, so it might be useful one day. No matter how remote, there is always some sort of reason to keep that thing.
So, how does this relate to fitness? Well, in this consumer society and especially in the realm of fitness we are bombarded with so much misinformation as to what is takes to lead a healthy lifestyle. We’re told we need this piece of equipment for abs, this machine for legs, that garment to sculpture the perfect bum and the list goes on, to the point that people suffer from “information overload”! That’s when people start feeling inadequately equipped to take the journey to better health and fitness. At this point in the post, I want to give you the permission to be free to think for yourself and cater for your own circumstances. If you’re like me, someone who’s a bit of an introvert who can be highly stimulated by just a book and a cup a green tea. Then a gym is probably not the best setting for you to perform at your best, and there is nothing wrong with this.
I’ve heard these types of statements too many times, ‘I just need to get this and that then I can start or I will just be wasting my time’. In most cases the piece of equipment that needs to be addressed is the mind.
So in conclusion
The equipment used does not matter half as much as the effort that is put in. Execute your workouts with intensity and purpose and they don’t have to take all day either. By doing things this way you can expect to see transformation in your physique.
Minimalist workout routines
I could not leave this piece of advice without giving you something to act on, so I’ve left some simple routines to get you started on your journey. At Forge Fitness we operate on the 80/20 rule ( also known as “The Pareto Principle” which states that 80 percent of your outcomes come from 20 percent of your inputs), and this reflects in the exercises that select for the specific goal in mind. So we pick a few exercise that give maximum results.
Forge Fitness Fat loss routine
So let’s look at fat loss. Remember I mentioned HIIT (come on the post is not that long).
Do the following a few times a week if fat loss is your goal
Fat loss Workout #1
1. Jumping Jacks – Do these at a moderate pace, you be only slightly out of breath. (Deceptive in their simplicity, the effectiveness of this exercise is unreal. It’s also an exercise used on the way to getting proficient with a skipping rope)
2. Squat -1 min (at a fast pace)
3. Jumping Jacks
4. Push ups (choosing a suitable variation)
5. Jumping Jacks
6. Lunges – alternating the legs
9. Jumping Jacks
10. Mountain climbers
12. Upright rows (with light dumbbells
Fat loss Workout #2
60 secs skipping as fast you can
Rest 30 secs
Repeat 8 -10 times
Forge Fitness muscle building routine
Do the following a 3-4 times a week if your goal is to buld muscle:
1. dumbbell or kettlebell swing
2. Sandbag power clean
3. Pull ups (variations)
4. Sandbag standing overhead press
Choose a weight or variation 8 -12 sets of each exercise resting when you need
Repeat this circuit 3-5 times.
I hope this article can help you realise that there really are no excuses to not spending a little time on your overall health and fitness.
If you are ever in need of some motivation and a little nutritional advice, sign up for my free ebooks over at forgefitness.co.uk.
Get strong and stay strong!