DISCLAIMER: I am not a health professional. Before you start any workout regimen or diet plan you should absolutely consult a physician. Accepting any of my advice on fitness or nutrition is at your own risk.
Having said that…
It’s a New Year, and many folks have made resolutions to either lose weight or get in better shape. For most, this brings to mind countless hours in the gym and expensive equipment. But the reality is that anyone, anywhere, can accomplish these goals on almost any time or cost budget. Similarly, a diet often reminds people of only eating “health” foods or miniscule portions for a short amount of time, only to hit their target weight and return to old habits. This is a sure-fire way not to meet your New Year’s goals, but it is a great way to to constantly be battling your self-control.
Gyms are licking their chops this time of year for just these reasons. A gym membership is as much about motivation as it is access to fancy equipment. But many of those New Year’s memberships will go to waste, at least partially, because of a lack of motivation or know-how. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to spend your money on an expensive trainer, or on a gym membership.
Today, the Internet provides a vast collection of fitness and nutrition information, some good, some not so good. In this blog, I’ll show you what have been the most effective workout routines for me since I lifted my first weight at age 13. I should note that I’m not a fitness professional, but rather a mouse clicker who likes to dispel pent up energy by moving heavy pieces of metal from here to there repeatedly. I’ve been engaged in workout regimens for nearly half my life. Like you, however, I’m just a normal guy looking for the most effective way to get in shape, period. I don’t take supplements, and I rely solely on the nutrition of my regular diet to fuel my workouts. My workouts have slowly changed and augmented over time, and now I use a composite regimen of everything I have learned.
My girlfriend is a health professional, and she imparted the knowledge to me that helped me to recently lose 50 pounds, almost all of that fat. In my exercise history I’ve done a lot of things right, and a few things wrong. My goal here is to use my experiences to help you distinguish between the two.
Just remember: This is the jumping off point for a conversation about fitness from my personal perspective. It’s not a definitive guide, nor is it meant to be. Your input and knowledge is welcome, so be sure to comment often about your own experiences!
The Feast is Over … yet again
If you’re one of the many Ashevillains who found yourself hovering around the family dessert table while at the same time telling yourself that this would be your last bite of aunt Judy’s double-fudge-chocolate-butter-blob-with-toffee-coffee-bits brownies, only to find yourself in the dreaded carb comatose later that night, read on …
My first workout for you to try is something I’ve found to be the ultimate fat burning exercise sequence. The H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training) method was popularized fairly recently, and it’s praised as one of the most effective possible ways to burn fat. It also spikes your metabolism, making you less likely to gorge later on.
This workout will jolt your system, and if there is one thing to remember during these workouts it is safety. These routines are constructed to be done at any pace, whether you’re in superior shape or just starting out. You can take as many breaks as you need to, so long as you work as hard as possible to do as many reps as possible while maintaining proper form and control.
The objective of this routine is to elevate your heart rate to a safe level of intensity while simultaneously stimulating multiple large muscle groups. This is the trick to fat loss. Forget running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, or doing a thousand crunches. If you want those highly sought-after washboard abs, you’ve got to move — as fast and with as much intensity as possible — while also maintaining control and proper technique.
Remember: Go for speed, but if you’re not doing the moves with perfect technique, you need to rest, take a break, and then get back in it. During these routines, make sure you are properly nourished with at least 10 grams of protein in your system no more than an hour prior to starting the routine. I like to eat a greek yogurt or something similarly light, but protein packed. You also want to beproperly hydrated, so make sure you’ve had plenty of water during the day, and at least 2 cups no more than 20 minutes before the workout. Make sure you sip water during the allotted breaks between sets.
In my experience, if this workout is done three to five days a week, you will see results in as little as two weeks.
Note: Many of the moves included are from the Shaun T insanity workout which you can purchase HERE
Before you start, you’ll need some way of telling time up to the second. The stopwatch feature in most cell phones is perfect for this. You’ll also need about 6 square feet of space. High-energy music is often a good motivator, but optional. If you have health problems that might prevent you from safely doing an intense work out, talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program, including this one.
In each sequence of the workout, the first set is about 50% of max possible speed. The second set is about 75 percent of max speed. The third set should be done as fast as you can without feeling unsafe, and while maintaining proper form. If you start to feel unsafe—your heart rate is too fast, for instance—take it down a notch. If you’re unsure what those speed percentages are, try the move slowly at first and work your way up to a speed that you feel is about half speed for the first set.
After each set of each sequence, take a 30-second rest. Watch the video if you are unclear about this, as I’ve included my rest periods.
If you have a heart monitor, that’s great, but generally speaking you won’t need one. To calculate your maximum safe heart-rate (for an averagely fit individual) the formula is:
Male athletes: MHR = 202 – (0.55 x age)
Female athletes: MHR = 216 – (1.09 x age)
If at any time during this exercise you are above your MHR during a 15-second sample of your heart rate, stop and take a break. You can sample your heart rate in between sets by simply placing a finger on the jugular, which is located just to the right of the center of your neck, about an inch right from your Laryngeal Prominence (Adam’s apple, or where it would be if you are a lady). Similarly, if you feel lightheaded at any time, you must take a break, because you are working too hard.
If you are feeling like the workout is just way too hard, try reducing the time of each exercise to 30 or even 15 seconds to start. This sequence is completely flexible and should work no matter how you do it. You can also mix and match the sequence of the moves, although the way I constructed this regimen was to put more and less difficult exercises back to back, so you don’t get burnt out.
So lets get to it: Here’s the routine. The moves are shown in the included video, and a chart is below for clarification.
Perform 3 sets of this sequence for 1 minute per exercise. Remember, 1st set is 50 percent of max speed, 2nd set is 75 percent, 3rd set is 100 percent while maintaining safety and proper technique.
When you have completed 3 sets of this sequence, move on to the main workout.
In and Outs
When you have completed 3 sets of this sequence, move on to the next section.
Jesse Michel is a graphic designer at Mountain Xpress, and an active athlete. All opinions and advice presented here are his, and he is solely responsible for the content.