I’ve started exercising! Although I use the terms loosely. It’s probably more correct to say “I’m starting to start exercising again.” Either way, it’s a long overdue step in a journey to a better me. I thought I’d write out my plans and routine so that I’ll stick to them.
If you are considering to start exercising, check with your doctor or at least get advice from a professional trainer.
Although I didn’t state it as one of my goals this year, investing in your health is just as important as investing your money. I’m sure I don’t need to spell out all the benefits of being fit, so I’ll just say this: While your body is an amazing and wonderful biological system, it’s the only one you have. So, look after it.
It’s just that in this case, exercising is cheap in financial terms. The real currency being spent here is Time.
Exercise is like investing in that you should have some kind of objective and plan in mind. My objectives are pretty simple:
- Become more flexible.
- Have better balance.
- Tone my body: lose 8lbs (reach 150lbs) and lower my blood pressure.
I’m not putting any timeframe on this, I’m just taking it slow and easy.
What kind of exercise?
Like investing, there are also so many strategies and types to choose from. Is DGI better than Passive Investing? Is Weight-lifting better than Yoga? How much stocks vs bonds? How much aerobic vs strength training?
As with any online research, my advice is to consider the source of what you’re reading. A site selling kettle-bell training courses will no doubt have a lot of reasons why kettle-bells are the most efficient. Consider more alternatives before deciding. Of course, you don’t have to follow just one method. I think it’s more important just to start and learn. Almost any exercise regime will be beneficial compared to none.
In my case, I’m going to start with an approach I used about five years ago, that I got on well with. It involves Bodyweight exercises along with Pilates. I stopped after moving to Detroit when I was pre-occupied about buying a house and starting a new job, and never restarted.
The great thing about both styles of exercise is that I don’t need any external equipment, or a gym membership. I just need me.
Bodyweight exercise means using your body for resistance instead of relying on external weights. I favor this approach because I’m older so it places less stress on my body, and because I’m not interested in gaining bulk muscle mass. I’d rather have a leaner body like a gymnast than a weight-lifter.
The good thing about bodyweight training is that the exercises are more biomechanically inclined. They reinforce the natural movements that your body was designed to do. This aligns with my objectives in building flexibility and balance.
The specific exercises and progression that I’m following is from the book, Convict Conditioning by Paul Wade.
It covers six core exercises: Push-Ups, Squats, Pull-Ups, Leg-Raises, Bridges and Handstand Pushups. Each exercise has a lengthy progression (ten levels that start easy and become progressively harder) so it takes a lot of time before you’re even close to doing the named move as advertised. Which is good because I’m not capable of doing a handstand anytime soon!
Now, I’m pretty sure that the one-handed handstand push-up touted in the book is physically impossible, but I’d be happy just to reach level five in that particular set of exercises.
I’m also using a subset of Pilates, which is a fitness method developed by Joseph Pilates. Pilates focuses on your core abdomen / back and includes some stretches for flexibility and improves standing posture. This article describes 16 health benefits of Pilates and additional starting tips.
I use only the mat exercises which I can do on a yoga mat (though a padded one works better) or even on carpet if needed. Running through the routine now takes about ten minutes as I’m only starting with the first five moves.
I’m starting with the Beginning Pilates video above which contains ten basic exercises. The Pilates Body book by Brook Siler describes all 34 of the mat exercises but some require a level of flexibility and strength I don’t have yet!
More advanced versions of Pilates use external equipment, but I’ve had good results just from the mat exercises in the past so I’m sticking with that.
I’m not planning to do a lot of aerobic exercise yet. I’ve started by using the stairs at work instead of the elevators and I park my car a brisk ten-minute walk away from my office building so I get exercise that way too. Though if it’s too icy or snowing I’ll wimp out and take a shuttle.
I do seem to walk a fair amount in my job anyway. The building I work in is huge by itself so I try to have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon walk during breaks. And the team is split across three buildings on campus so there’s a fair amount of travel back and forth during the week.
Here’s the schedule I’m following:
|Mon||Push-Ups + Leg Raises|
|Wed||Bridges + Handstand|
|Fri||Pull-Ups + Squats|
The chart doesn’t include the progression / quantity of the exercises but I track that in a spreadsheet. The push-ups for example are currently done standing up against a wall, and I’m only doing three sets of ten. Once I’ve built up to do three sets of fifty with good technique then the exercise advances to doing push-ups on an incline to continue building up strength, then goes to kneeling for level three and so-on.
What I like about this approach is that it’s quick to do and helps me form a regular habit. It’s also encouraging seeing the progress through the progression.
2. I’ll update my progress in a post each quarter.
Image by nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Quote of the Day
It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.