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This brings me to my point. I recently asked the community to give me ideas for home workout topics. One response stood out, because it may represent many other unspoken situations, to wit “How can an out of shape couch potato get started on changing my body?”

A “couch potato” is a cute representation of what is certainly a problem of epidemic proportions. Poor fitness levels and obesity are not laughing matters. Length of life and quality of life are at stake.

The person who sincerely asked for advice is getting ahead of the game, by a candid acknowledgment of a present situation and an outspoken need for change. And, most importantly, a choice to change.

Hopefully, my headline ” COUCH POTATO WORKOUT PROGRAMS” does not suggest an easy way to become fit while reclining on a couch. The idea is to get started on improving one’s fitness by getting off the couch. There is nothing empirically difficult about doing this. The key is to get motivated and to stay that way. Satisfying results then become inevitable.


Please begin with a physical exam if any of the following apply:

  • You are over 45
  • You are overweight
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You are subject to dizziness
  • You have any chronic health issue
  • You have not been working out for at least 30 minutes daily up to 3 months prior
  • You are a smoker or have only recently quit smoking
  • You have high cholesterol

Since we are addressing out of shape admitted “couch potatoes”, the rule should be a physical exam in any case.

So…visit your primary care physician and discuss your plans for a new workout program. He / she will have your health records and will be able to personalize answers to your questions.

Request a blood test and set up a profile for this if not already accomplished. Ask for a thorough exam and discuss the results. Your doctor will know the value of exercise and will be able to make specific recommendations.


Accede to your doctor’s advice, but begin with brief and light forms of exercise. Here is such a plan:

  • First week: walk 20 minutes per day
  • Second week: add 10 bodyweight squats 3 times per week and walk 30 minutes per day
  • Third week: add 10 push – ups from knees 3 times per week and continue as before
  • Fourth week: add 30 second plank 3 times per week and continue as before. See plank image below.

  • Fifth week: add 10 lunges per each leg 3 times per week and continue as before. See lunge image below

At this point, you are walking every day for 30 minutes and including about 20 more minutes of exercise on 3 of those days. I would recommend taking one day off during the week, maybe Sunday.

It is time to evaluate. Are you sore? Do you need to cut back or take off any more days? Are you having any time issues? Would you rather alternate the walking days with the days of the 4 bodyweight movements?

Please exercise the appropriate options for you and continue along these lines for 3 more weeks.

After 2 months, you should have a sense that you are making some progress. Assuming good nutrition and calorie control, there should be some weight loss. There should also be some firmness. Be patient, but reward yourself for your good beginning, but not with a big celebratory meal.

On the subject of calories, the average woman needs to consume 2000 calories per day to maintain weight and 1500 per day to lose one pound per week. For the average men, the numbers are 2500 and 2000. Of course, this is only applicable to an undefined “average”. Again, check with your doctor.

My personal plan is to eat 2000 calories or less per day and to work out as much as possible, usually every day. I like to consume carbohydrates before a workout and protein afterward. See my previous post on this

One more point before moving on – I use a treadmill for my workouts. I like to increase the speed every minute and to do about 2 1/2 miles per day.


We have heretofore considered only bodyweight workout movements, with a view to slowly progressing in intensity. Remember – this is for (former) couch potatoes.

We could begin jogging instead of walking, maybe even running. We could do full push – ups instead of push – ups from the knees. It is important to not rush results, to stay with what is working and to constantly evaluate.

I would recommend a blood pressure / pulse device I use this every morning to check on these essential numbers.

Here is a prior post on workouts that presents a variety of workout options of greater intensity.

I would recommend moving slowly into resistance cords, then small dumbbells and Bullworker products, in that order.

This post will present these forms of greater resistance. Refer to it as you progress, but do so only as you are ready.


Writing a post for a beginner is quite different from writing for one who is experienced in resistance and cardio training. Beginning physical condition is unknown, as are precise goals and time allotments.

So…a conservative approach seems reasonable, with mention made of later options. The worst mistake for a beginner (or couch potato) to make would be to rush the process and risk injury or soreness.

I can remember my beginnings, when I would use heavier weight than necessary, only to regret that choice.

The conditioning journey is a lengthy one, but fitness and greater strength are inevitable, given dedicated effort. There is never a reason to rush.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” box below. Or e-mail me – richard@myworkoutathome.com. Be well!


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