The idea for this workout program dawned on me the other day as a way to slowly (very slowly) get into a fitness routine that you are meant to keep going the rest of your life.
I was sick of training schedules and programs that were so extreme I could only keep them up for a few weeks or days before collapsing under the time or mental pressure. I mulled the problem over for a while and thought: “If I had to come up with a workout program that I kept doing for the next 5 years… what would it look like?” and this is the result.
The gist of the workout is 3 parts:
- Start with a painfully easy workout, like “1 pushup” or “2 squats”, that’s it. Be sure to pick an exercise you like (or can tollerate in small doses).
- Do it every day for 1 week.
- Every 7 days, add something new (but simple) to the workout and keep doing it for the next week.
The purpose of the workout is to be very long term, something you might do for years. So be sure to start with something very simple and move up from there because every 7 days you must add something new to the workout. Take care not to add something so taxing or time consuming that it impedes your ability to keep doing the entire workout every day.
For example, hold off on adding things like “run 1 mile” to your workout until you are months into it. For the first few weeks/months, keep the additions so easy that the “workout” almost makes you laugh.
Life is meant to be enjoyed you know
No, even if you start off with something painfully simple, keep in mind that you have to think where that workout will be in a year after 52 additions or more.
You might start off with “3 pushups” but after just 4 weeks, you might add a few more pushups to that, some squats and maybe some walking. By 6 months if you progressed too quickly you might be looking at a workout that takes 2 hours to complete and undoes the purpose of this workout; which is to keep you engaged in fitness for years to come.
Smile and relax.
There is a huge mental component to accepting the workout and physical movement into your life, don’t try and shove through that. Just giggle at the fact that your workout is 2 pushups, 5 squats and 1 situp.
Give it a try:
- Go to the store and pickup a simple calendar you can thumbtack to the wall.
- Write your workout down in the Sunday box.
- Start doing your workouts!
- Add an ‘X’ on the calendar every day you do the workout (similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret)
- Enjoy your life!
That’s it, nothing more to it.
The key to success is remembering not to add too much every Sunday; keep it simple, add an extra pushup or an extra squat. Try and remember what your workouts will look like after 52 additions!
If you find modifications to the workout that works better for you I’d love to hear about them!
What about Diet?
Don’t worry about changing anything in your diet for a while. Give yourself 6 months to get the feel for your workout.
When you do decide to focus on your diet, don’t focus on taking things away, just work on adding a few good things like raw foods, veggies and high-fiber foods.
Don’t walk into the job of modifying your diet with the assumption that your goal is to love eating raw soy beans, steel cut oats and tree bark. That just sets the bar in an impossible position that does nothing but demotivate and crush your spirit.
If you end up liking tree bark, great. If you still love cheese burgers and pizza, great too. Just try and add some veggies to that over the next few years. There is no “race to the finish line” with this stuff, just enjoy what you are doing.
As far as portion control goes, don’t worry about it for a long time. Let’s get some successes under our belts first.
The spirit of this fitness plan was actually born out of the “death by” workout concept I got introduced to from CrossFit.
It is such a simple concept… start a clock, and at the top of every minute, do X number of reps of some exercise (like a squat or burpee) where “X” is the minute you are on.
So when the clock starts, just do 1 rep that entire first minute. When the 2nd minute stats, do 2 reps. When the 3rd minute starts, do 3 reps and so on.
If you finish your reps quickly you just stand around doing nothing (much like the early months/years of this proposed workout) and it feels too easy. There is this urge to do more or do some minor exercise while you wait like a jumping jack because it feels wrong to just be standing there and not suffering.
The funny thing is, by the 15th or 18th or 20th minute, you are finishing your reps RIGHT as the next minute begins, so you no longer have any time to rest. As you gasp for air you would give anything to be back in Minute #1 or 2 or 3.
It makes you appreciate patience, consistency and perseverance and that is all I want to do with this workout (which I am doing myself; I’m not trying to be an internet-Buddha with this or anything).
I am sick of 8-minute abs and 12-second arms and 30-millisecond shoulders. All these transient, immediate, nonsensical hand-wavy solutions to things that I no longer think are problems.
I just want to ride my bike, hike, eat some burgers, go for a slow ass jog, play tennis with my friends and smile as I’m going to sleep at night.
I am becoming a lot more conscious of my right to happiness.
Update #1: My wife keeps referring to this as “The Calendar Workout” — what do you guys think of the name?