100 Days of Fitness: Week 3 – Exercise

How long does it take to change your life? Follow author Robert Fure as he begins a 100 day trek to a fitter, healthier life by following this simple program. Today, we talk about exercising on the 100 Days of Fitness program.

As I mentioned in the introduction to the program, exercise plays second fiddle to nutrition in the 100 Days plan.  That said, you should get some physical activity in.  It releases endorphins, makes you feel good, builds muscle, endurance, and strengthens your lungs and hearts.  There is some debate over how effective exercise actually is for weight loss, but in my experience, and the experience of many others, it can certainly help a great deal.

This week we're going to focus on stuff anyone can do, with no equipment and no gym membership. If you a gym membership, great – there's a ton of stuff you can do in the gym.  You'll want to focus on basic compound lifts like squats, bench press, deadlifts, and machines where you can go pretty heavy, like leg presses.  The more muscles involved, the more your body works, the more results you get.  Sure, doing curls for 40 minutes is exercising, but it's less effective than doing squats, which hammer the largest muscles in your body and simultaneously activate your core.  For gym cardio, you want to focus on Interval Training, as we recommended way back here.

Now, at home, you'll probably want to pick up some equipment if you're going to make fitness a part of your life.  Buying some simple items is far less expensive than paying for a year at the gym.  We'll go over that next week when I discuss building your own home gym without spending hundreds or taking up a ton of space.  So that leaves us with exercises you can do at home, with virtually nothing.

For an absolutely no cost solution, there is one tried and true workout program anyone can do, no excuses.  For cardio work, you jog (you can use a HIIT technique of sprinting and walking).  For your strength exercises, you focus on push ups, squats, and crunches.  For your best results, and to integrate HIIT into your strength routine, work in a circuit.

A sample routine might go like this:

  • Sprint/Walk to a nearby park
  • Perform 10 push-ups, followed by 10 crunches, followed by 10 squats
  • Rest 30-60 seconds
  • Repeat the push-ups/crunches/squats 4 times (a total of 40 each)
  • Sprint/Walk back home

If your local park has a jungle gym, you can find a place to integrate pull-ups into your plan too.  Or, for $15, you can install a pull-up bar in your home.  That way you can perform HIIT returns outside on the sidewalk, then just head back inside for your circuit.  Don't worry if you can't do a pull-up right away, or if you can't do all that many, they're difficult.  But the only way to improve is to keep doing them.  To do an assisted pull-up by yourself, all you need is a chair.  Set the chair just behind he pull up bar, step up onto it, grab the bar, and lower yourself down, keeping your feet on the chair.  Start out this way and move on to full pull-ups later on, but work towards getting them involved in your circuit.

Sound simple? It is.

Sometimes simple is boring, which is why we experiment with variations in the workout.  Again, that ever useful chair can help us out in switching things up.  If you put your feet up on the chair you can do declined push-ups, if you put your hands on two separate chairs, you can do inclined.  With three chairs you can have your feet on one, your hands on two separate pieces, and then do really deep push-ups, past the normal range of motion.  You can also use furniture to elevate your feet for variation in sit-ups and crunches.

For changing up your squats, you can do split squats, or use any weight around the house.  For under two bucks you can get a pair of 8lb weights, aka, two gallons of water.  Water is an awesome workout aide, since it's cheap and the containers are everywhere.  A trip to the grocery store can get you an 8lb jug of water or even a 16lb one.  If you buy a bigger multiple gallon container, like a 5 gallon dispenser, you just got a 40lb weight.  Using this you can weight down your squats, start doing curls, tricep extensions, and different presses.

So, as you can see, there is no reason for you to not exercise if you don't have the money to spend on a gym membership or access to any equipment.  Pretty much anyone can do this routine. Without weights or gadgets, you'll want to focus on combining HIIT cardio (15-30 minutes a day in two sessions) and a circuit of body weight exercises.  So what are you waiting for?

My Results

So this is my second full week on the program and I'm down to 246.5.  That's only a 1.5lb difference from last week, which isn't as high as I hoped, but we're still moving in the right direction.  In two weeks, I've cut down a full 5lbs, so that's an average of 2.5lbs a week, which is still on target.  With your progress, don't get upset if you don't see big losses every week.  Hey, sometimes you might not even see a loss.  In that case, it's important not to get upset and quit. Everyone has off days and there are real reasons why your weight might appear a touch higher than it is – though this isn't a free excuse.  If every week you're showing no loss, you're doing something wrong.  But if you only drop a pound, or maybe one week you don't drop anything, it's okay.  Stay on the program.  Focus on how you feel and how your clothes fit.  If you're not carrying a lot of muscle to start with, even just push-ups and pull-ups will build up some muscularity, which can offset your fat-loss numbers in the beginning.

Stay strong, stay on the program.

Robert Fure is a fitness, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in Los Angeles. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and the Creator/Editor of Fit and Furious, an online outlet dedicated to the pursuit of a fit lifestyle. His entertainment work can be viewed at Film School Rejects.