It's that wonderful time of year when the flowers start blooming, the days warm up and many of us look in the mirror wondering how to lose that winter layer. Where do you even start? Have no fear my former hibernating friends. Here are some quick, easy and fun ways to get you out the door and into fighting shape come summer time.
Become Your own Drill Sergeant
When I joined the Army I was 80 pounds overweight and in terrible shape. My "friendly" drill instructor helped me not only lose those 80 pounds, but an additional 20 pounds. How? Tough love. He used it on me, I use in on myself, and now you need to use it on yourself. This means accountability. No more oversleeping or skipping workouts for happy hour. You need to make a plan to get into shape and stick with it. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I tell my clients not to focus on the scale. Focus on getting healthy and fit, and the weight loss will happen. Let weight loss be a by-product and incredible shape be your goal.
Keep It Simple
You don't have to purchase some fancy exercise gizmo or join an expensive health club. Use what's available. The oldest and most effective workout program in the world is the military Boot Camp style. You can make it as easy or hard as you want. Start out with basic calisthenics. My favorites are pull-ups or modified pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, dips, lunges and squats. For an example of a Boot Camp style workout check out at www.gutcheckfitness.com
Where you begin depends upon your fitness level. Beginners may start with two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps. If you're more advanced, you can do 20 to 25 reps. For the highly advanced, I like to do a descending pyramid from 50-40-30-20-10. Is it tough? Yes. Does it work? Yes! I recommend doing your calisthenics circuit two to three days per week, such as M-W-F.
Tip: To make this more challenging and obtain better results, add a pair of 10 to 20 lb dumbbells to your routine. Or be creative and use whatever is available--rocks, bricks, logs, etc. It keeps it fun and definitely makes the neighbors wonder what the heck you're up to.
Change Up Your Cardio
Weightlifting and calisthenics help build muscle. Cardio helps get rid of the unwanted fat. Unfortunately, most people are guilty of heading out the door and doing the same old run or ride day after day. Guess what? They see the same old results. You've got to change it up and shock your body. A couple of my favorite additions to really spice up a workout program are adding hill or stair repeats, and speed work.
These two alone will definitely shock your freshly unhibernated body. Go to your favorite hill or stairs then run or ride up them three to four times or for about 15 to 45 minutes. For your next workout, hit your local track or street for some speed work. Either run distance or time, for example 400 m repeats or run for one to two minutes. It all depends on your fitness level and how hard you want to work. I recommend some form of cardio most days of the week, generally at least four or five.
Here's my schedule:
Monday -- off
Tuesday -- hills/stairs
Wednesday -- easy trail day
Thursday -- speed workout
Friday -- cross training
Saturday -- Gut Check Fitness Workout
Sunday -- mountain biking with my friends
Every couple weeks I change it up, and you should do the same. Change can definitely be good when it comes to getting more fit.
Remember, the road to getting fit and healthy should be a fun ride. Find things you enjoy doing and go for it--whether it be swimming, cycling, running, surfing or something else. Now's the time to get out there, try new things, and get into the best shape of your life. And that's an order, private!
Active Expert Joe Decker is an ultra-endurance power athlete and renowned fitness trainer who has inspired and motivated thousands of people to get in shape with his unique training method and style, known for its Millennium Workout and Caveman Workout programs. He has completed many of the world's toughest endurance and strength events, including the 520-mile Raid Gauloises, the 152-mile Marathon des Sables, the Badwater 135, the Grand Slam of UltraRunning, the Tough Guy Challenge UK and numerous Strongman Competitions. Joe is recognized as the "The World's Fittest Man" after breaking the Guinness World Records® 24-Hour Physical Fitness Challenge in 2000. Visit his website at www.gutcheckfitness.com.