A comprehensive fitness program for 1-3 months can be great, where each day is planned for you. It ramps up your fitness, teaches you new workout styles and moves, and enforces schedule discipline if you stick with it.
I did P90X a few years ago, loved it, and greatly benefited. Nowadays, there are so many 30, 60, and 90-day programs. Challenge…transformation…shred…burn…blast. Etc.
But while short-term programs jump-start or accelerate you toward your goals, the most important day of an XX-day program is the day after you’re done.
That’s when you’re at a crossroads between:
- Continuing with a new level of discipline, but also expanding and personalizing your fitness approach to make it long-term sustainable; OR
- Slipping back toward your status from the day before you started the program
I’ve taken each of these roads, brother. Based on that learning, here are suggestions for a successful transition from “XX-day” to “Decades-long.”
WAIT: WHY DO I NEED TO TRANSITION?
Why not just keep doing the program? Well, if it worked and you liked it, of course do it again. Or maybe re-do it once a year.
But long-term, most guys won’t do repetitive, scheduled things for months, years, decades. And shouldn’t. Because we need:
A greater range of activities to sustain a mix of endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. And combat boredom. Mixing in running, cycling, swimming, yoga, outdoor adventure sports, self-guided strength work…these all help us be all-over fit, resilient vs. injury, and long-term engaged.
More schedule or logistics flexibility. Otherwise, there are dilemmas like: “I can’t do six days this week…so do I skip a day of my program, or just stay on sequence but a day behind?” Or, “My hotel room has no space to set-up and exercise in front of a screen…and I feel weird being in the hotel gym following on-screen training.”
To interact more with people as part of fitness activity. Like having running or cycling buddies, or people in a HiiT or yoga class. Feeling connected to like-minded people reinforces motivation and also leverages our fitness activities for the broader benefit of human relationships (the key ingredient to happiness, research says).
Just something different. For variety’s sake, or to have a new challenge or adventure on the horizon to keep things fun and motivational.
So at some point – better sooner than later – you’ve got to make and start following a plan for what’s next. Or by default, you’ll be headed down the “backslide” path, dude.
BRING YOUR FAVORITE PARTS INTO YOUR ONGOING ROUTINE
Often, there are individual pieces of the program you’ll want to bring into your “post-program” life.
Years later, I still use slightly-adjusted versions of these P90X pieces. Most of the items below are “standard” enough that any program has similar components.
- Simple warm-up routine to get blood flowing and do “dynamic” stretching. I use this before any strength or HiiT (interval) workout, and also before running.
- Core strength routine that takes 5- 10 minutes. I use this as part of “mini-strength” sessions I tack onto some endurance days, or as the core-work part of a dedicated strength day.
- Specific variations I liked on bodyweight and dumbbell exercises. These includes wrinkles on push-ups, biceps curls, bodyweight squats, and a few plyometric (jump training) moves.
- Yoga and kick-boxing. Not all programs have this much variety, but my strong belief in yoga as a guy’s fitness staple came from the “Yoga X” day of P90X’s weekly routine. There was also a kick-boxing-style workout that made me interested in that as an ongoing, occasional thing.
You’ll have your own examples, I’m sure.
The common theme is this: don’t just think of it as a “program,” but also as a learning experience with a world-class trainer. You can get decades-long benefits if you adopt this orientation toward sustaining use of “best of” pieces.
FORMULA FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION
OK, so you’ve stuck with your program, gotten fitter than you were XX days ago, and have various new tools in your toolbox of workout components.
To now move forward most successfully…
1. STAY IN A “SCHEDULE” MINDSET. This is incredibly important – to not let slip the feeling of “I have a schedule I’ve committed to.” It doesn’t need to be a highly-regimented schedule (i.e. do exactly this today, then exactly that tomorrow). Rather, it can be a high-level-goal-oriented one, like “get cardio three times this week (these days), strength twice (these other days), be sure to get outside, etc.” OlderBeast Weekly Workouts make suggestions, to help you build the habit of scheduling yourself this way.
2. Add more variety. “Cross-training” is even more important for 40+ guys than for younger ones. It helps us keep fitness symmetrical across endurance, strength, flexibility and balance. And prevent (or recover from) injury, by reducing repetitive activities and offering “Plan B” ways to work out if we’ve had a setback. And finally, variety simply keeps it interesting and fun. Key attributes, man.
3. Find new challenges and fitness-motivating adventures. Use your newly-adopted variety to create new challenges. Example: “Yeah, I got the hang of P90X pretty well, but now I’ve circled a date on the calendar for a 5 or 10K road race, and I need to get in running shape”. Adventure (a challenge with some “quest” and uncertain-outcome aspects to it) is even better.
4. Get, or stay, focused on NUTRITION. You can exercise all you want, but at 40+, you won’t really get the results you want without reasonable discipline on what you eat and drink. Start here for simple but powerful suggestions on what’s most important for nutrition.
The fact that you did (or are in the midst of, or about to start) a 30, 60 or 90-day intensive program is absolutely GREAT. You’re ahead of the vast majority of guys our age. And more importantly, you’re well-positioned to turn these XX days into a YY-year habit going forward.
But treat the end of your program as a time of high opportunity and also high risk. Make sure you head the right way tomorrow!
“Open your eyes and look at the day, you’ll see things in a different way. Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow. Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here…” (Fleetwood Mac, Don’t Stop—click to listen)
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