Fitness sets itself apart from intelligence or education and financial wealth in that it is possible at a glance to see what kind of attitude a person has towards his/her own body and what kind of athletic competence he/she has. As far as I know (keep in mind, I do not know that much), body image is practically the only way to demonstrate moral values to the world without buying something. Society and shows like “What not to wear” (yes, I used to watch it, so shut up πŸ˜› ) emphasises hiding the body with $5000 wardrobes that are tailor fitted(*).

(*) I’ll let you in on a secret or rather an observation. If you are in shape, practically all suits will appear to be custom fitted for you. In other words, suits are made for people who are in-shape.
However, rather than treating symptoms a better approach is to focus on the body first. A hot body with poorly fitted clothes always looks better than a bad body with nicely fitted clothes, and I think the frugal bachelor will agree with me on this, especially when the clothes come off.

I have previously written about the strange body ideals promoted in popular culture and the lack of associated fitness. I have also posted various inexpensive home gym solutions here and here. I have also talked about ways of working out that can be done for free. What I have not done, as far as I remember, is to give a program for getting in shape, so here goes.

First you need to pick a full body exercise or a combination of two exercises that cover the whole body. The reason for this 1) A muscle never moves in isolation 2) Full body motion involves more muscles and require a better cardiovascular system. I think the 100 push up challenge meme that was floating around a few weeks ago(*) is misguided. A push up is not a full-body movement. It is more of a half-body movement. In addition, it is not cardiovascularly demanding. All it tests is muscle endurance in the pecs and triceps. Similarly 100 sit-ups is not useful for getting in shape either.

(*) Since then I have not heard anything. Did everybody give up or did they all succeed?

Here are my suggestions for exercises. The burpee (with a dumbell in each hand, do a squat instead of a jump), the kettlebell swing, snatch, or clean and jerk, the clubbell swing or swipe. The barbell clean and jerk. You can also use improvised weights like squatting with a sack of rice (in which case you are one cool dude or dudette in my book!). Other forms of weights can also be used. Grab whatever is at hand, like your wife. If your wife proves too heavy or unwieldy, try using another wife. Wait, that didn’t come out right πŸ˜€

Most exercises will work with this program though, even the push-up or the dwarf toss (when legal).

The eventual goal is 1 set of 100 reps that will floor most mortals.

The first step is dialing in the weight to use. In general you should be able to do 8-12 reps of the exercise without killing yourself. If you can’t do that, pick an easier exercise. Get a watch and do 40 sets of 5 reps. Each set must take exactly 60 seconds. So in the beginning you will do 5 reps which will take about 5-15 seconds depending on the kind of exercise and then have 45-55 seconds of rest. Keep going for 40 minutes. If it was easy, increase the weight/level of difficulty the next time until 40×5 is challenging. If it was hard, decrease the weight/level of difficulty.

Workouts are every other day. No exceptions. Slackers don’t collect $200 when passing start.

When 40×5 becomes easy, go to 33×6, also starting one set each minute. This keeps the total work load constant close to 200 reps, but it increases the intensity. When 33×6 becomes easy, go to 25×8, …, 20×10, …, 13×15. This is called density training. When you can do 13×15, you should be able to do 1×100. Take a few days off and try it.

Of course this scales. If the goal is 1 set of 50, make the total work out volume 100 and start with 20×5.

This kind of workout eventually only takes 10 minutes. It is extremely intensive as it hits both your slow energy systems and your fast energy systems. There is no need to split up strength and cardio. This one does them both at the same time. As I like to say this will put you in a shape where if you can’t outrun them, you can kick their ass, and if you can’t kick their ass, you can outrun them. Have fun!

Originally posted 2008-08-22 07:41:13.