I rarely lift weights. In fact, I try to completely avoid going in to the weight-room section of the gym entirely. Luckily, most gyms now have a cleared out zone for stretching or for more HIIT workouts with dumbells, kettlebells, TRX bands, tires, swiss balls, boxes and all the other bare-bones stuff that I prefer. That is the only place I even bother going. Gone are the days of putting four 45 lbs weights on the bench press and resting 2 minutes between sets of 5 reps. I like to be in and out of the gym in less than 40 minutes in a full sweat. Any more than that and I get antsy. I rarely take any rest between reps or sets but I try to maximize my caloric burn.
I also don’t do body-part specific days. Every day is a full body workout. I always thought it was dumb to divvy up chest for one day and back for another day, unless you’re a body builder. What if you miss a day? What if you get sick or have to travel? Now your body is unbalanced. Your body is a machine and every part should be moving every day and working properly and efficiently in concert with everything else. I do tend to do a decent amount of leg workouts since those keep me fast, balanced, and explosive. Your legs and core are the most important muscles. So I try to focus more on those, and do just the essentials for the upper body.
Since I stopped lifting weights about 3 years ago, I have hardly lost any muscle. In fact, I think I’ve gotten more defined from just doing the basics – pushups, squats, pullups, burpees, dips, and planks. If you don’t believe you can still be muscular without lifting weights, lookup Herschel Walker. The guy does 1,000 situps, pushups, and pullups every day and is jacked out of his mind. He also eats only one meal a day so you know he’s an absolute psycho about fitness. While I don’t avoid weights entirely, I primarily just stick to 20 pound dumbbells or the 42 lb. kettlebell if I am doing any weight-based exercises.
Below are some workout secrets that I recommend to everyone:
- For bigger looking, more defined arms – work triceps. Doing bicep curls will give you muscles, but if you want your arms to really pop and look good, the triceps are the key
- Planks for core – I used to have a good amount of back pain, but since I started every workout with a round of 1-minute planks, my back pain has basically vanished
- Warm up – I hate when I go for a run with a friend and they just say “Alright let’s go.” You can’t just do that anymore. I, and you also, need to warm up before any physical activity. I know, the 10 year old in me is embarrassed when I start doing high knees on the sidewalk before a run, but unfortunately we can’t run around for hours anymore without getting ridiculously sore and achy. So please, warm up properly with dynamic stretches like lunges, squats, high-knees, butt-kicks, etc. Follow up post regarding this coming up.
- My favorite machines for interval training are the Row Machine, Versa-Climber, and AirBike. I usually do a 5-minute warmup and then do one minute full speed, one minute off, until I hit 16 minutes.
- Stretch at night before bed. I find that I fall asleep much quicker when I stretch right before bed.
Here are some of the workouts I do on a typical day:
10 rounds of the following:
- 3 minutes of jump-rope
- 1 minute of mountain climbers
- 30 second rest
60 seconds of each of the following:
- Wall-balls (20 pound ball, 10-foot target)
- Sumo Deadlift High-pull (75 lbs.)
- Box jumps (20-inch box)
- Push Press (75 lbs.)
- Rowing Machine
When I’m pressed for time my favorite workout that is Kettlebell Swings. These are guaranteed to make you sweat hard and work your entire body. Choose whatever weight you are comfortable with, but go a little higher. If you think 25 lbs. is your speed, go with 35 lbs. You’d be surprised how much more you can do since it’s essentially your legs and hips doing all the work, not your arms. I like to do 75 reps with a 52 lb. kettlebell. Takes about 5 minutes and I’m done. I’m sore the next day and I worked out every muscle in my body.
Five rounds of the circuit. Ten reps each
- Box-jumps (or step-ups)
- Push ups
- Medicine ball slams (or twists)
Three rounds of the following. Use a 20 lb. dumbbell
- Dumbbell Sumo Squat and Press
- Goblet Side Lunge
- T-Pushup and Hold
- Dumbell Single Arm Supported Row
- Dumbbell Jump Squat
And that’s really it. Other than that I like to mix it up with spinning classes, swimming, yoga, or walking on the treadmill at max incline. I try to do at least 50 pushups every day. Ten in the morning, ten before my shower, ten while I’m cooking dinner, and twenty before I brush my teeth.
You don’t have to load up on weights or run 5 miles a day to stay in shape. I find that short, rapid-fire bursts of exercises keep me in great shape for any activities. By training core and legs primarily, I stay in good enough shape for the occasional pick-up basketball game, a 5K race, or volleyball on the beach. On days that I don’t work out, I try to walk at least 10,000 steps to ensure that I’m still active and not just lounging around all day. The key to health and youth is movement. Keep active and stay movin.’.