After 5 decades of working out, I have used many modalities and attended many exercise “venues”. It has been interesting to speak with other fitness advocates and to learn from their experiences. It has also been instructive to speak with those who do not work out. They are also often quite free with their advice.
I have concluded that hardly anyone rejects the notion of improving their physical structure. But relatively few actually get started on a program and even fewer stick with one consistently. Another conclusion is that those who do consistently work out generally are very happy with their results.
An easy solution is to join a gym. Positive reasons to do so include:
- The value of “group therapy”.
- The presence of instructors
- The ease of using machines
Negative aspects include:
- Time spent traveling back and forth
- Machines have limited ranges of motion, while other forms of resistance call upon stability muscles
- There is often much waiting to get to a machine.
- Gym memberships may be expensive
There are many people who are of the opinion that workout routines are complicated and very time-consuming. My purpose today is to present the idea that workouts can be time-efficient, inexpensive and simple.
A SIMPLE 20 MINUTE WORKOUT PLAN
Here is a routine of 10 exercise movements that can be easily and quickly done at home. Some of the movements only use one’s bodyweight as resistance. Others call for the use of resistance cords, which are quite inexpensive and will provide challenges ranging from low to high impact.
- Warm – up: Do 2 minutes of jumping jacks, rope skipping or walking with high knees. Get your heart pumping and accelerate your breathing.
- Plank: With forearms on the surface and body in straight alignment, hold this isometric position for about 30 seconds. See image below.
3. Push-up: While in the plank position, move seamlessly into the push-ups. Place extended hands on the surface. Lower your upper torso to the surface, hold for a second and push back up. If necessary, place your knees on the surface to make this easier. Do 10 reps. See below.
4. Squat: From a standing position, feet are slightly wider than shoulders, with toes somewhat pointed outward. Push your hips back and then lower knees to about 90 degrees. Do 10 reps. This will engage your back, hips, glutes and thighs. See below.
5. Chest press: Attach resistance cords to a door and face away from door. Pull the cords to the front of your chest, hold for a moment and then slowly release them to the starting position. All the packages of resistance cords will have a door attachment, which is very easy to use. See below.
6. Lat pull: This works the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back, the “lats”. With the cord still anchored by the door, face the door. Then pull each cord to the sides of your body. Vary the height of the pull from low to high. See below.
7. V-ups: Lying on the surface, with legs straight in front and arms extended past your head and outstretched, raise your upper torso and legs at the same time. Hands and legs are kept straight. The result is a position of a “V”. This fully engages the abdominal muscles, especially the lower “abs”. Do 10-15 reps to begin. See below.
8. Curls: Stand on the midpoint of the resistance cords. Then, with palms facing inward, raise or “curl” each hand to the top of your shoulders. Do this with both hands working together or alternately. This will build or firm the biceps of your upper arms. See below.
9. Triceps kickbacks: With cords again anchored at a door, bend over slightly and pull the cords back by straightening your arms at the elbows against the resistance. This will work the triceps muscles at the back of your upper arms. See below.
10. Heel raises for calves: With hands placed against a wall, step back from the wall. Then raise your heels to activate the gastrocnemius muscles of your calves. Then lower your heels, but not completely. Keep the stress on your calf muscles. Do 20 reps to begin. See below.
This circuit can be quickly done and some may want to do more than one circuit. These are fundamental exercises that cover the whole body. Some are compound movements that work more than one muscle group, such as:
- Planks, which work the abdominals and back
- Push-ups, which work the chest, triceps, shoulders and back
- Squats, which engage the hips, thighs, glutes, back and even abdominals to some extent
As progress is made, there are several ways to increase the intensity for faster gains, such as:
- Doing more reps as soon as you can (comfortably)
- Resting less between each part of the circuit
- Doing more than one circuit
- Using tougher resistance levels, since the resistance cord packages have several options for intensity
This plan did not include cardio, except for the initial warm up. You may want to include cardio by:
- Taking a walk outside after the routine
- Alternating walking days with workout days, which may encourage greater impact for both
- Considering a treadmill or other indoor cardio device (see Dick’s Sporting Goods link at bottom)
MORE ABOUT RESISTANCE CORDS
These workout devices are becoming more and more popular as they are recognized by these features:
- They can be used by anchoring at doors or by standing on their midpoint
- Varying levels of resistance are provided
- They are very well suited for home workouts
- Full body engagement is provided, with many options for the same muscle groups
- They are very reasonable in price
Here are some packages that are available from Amazon:
One more image of the beauty of simplicity –
It seems unreasonable that workout routines should be difficult to understand, though I realize that not everyone has spent many years doing this, as I have. My first memory was that, at age 15, I went into a bodybuilding gym and felt intimidated by the advanced people surrounding me. Also, the jargon took a while for me to grasp.
Since then, many misconceptions have been erased from our common knowledge and workouts have generally become mainstream. But understandings have been clouded by a tendency for “experts” to always come up with innovative approaches, often with disdain for what is time – honored. Thus, simplicity now looms more important to newcomers.
“Simple” does not suggest “easy” in this case, though it does lead to speed. There is very little to “figure out”.
So…get started. You will be happy you did.
Here is my weekly link to Dick’s Sporting Goods’ special promotions. There are discounts throughout their entire inventory. If you are thinking about a treadmill or some other home cardio machine, the timing is right for a good price.
Please leave any comments or questions in the “Comments” box below, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well and stay safe!