Packaged Fitness Programs? Why Guys Should Declare Independence.

Recently I’m swamped by ads for fitness programs promising unbelievable fast results, declaring themselves better than anything ever conceived before, or playing blatantly to a stereotype of male ego/insecurity.

I’ve done “programs.” The good ones are designed by smart people and will produce results if you’re diligent and intense in following them.

But what to do the day the program is over? Do it all over again?…For the rest of our lives?…Or go back to whatever our fitness regimens were before we started the program?


Recently I’m swamped by ads for fitness programs promising unbelievable fast results, declaring themselves better than anything ever conceived before, or playing blatantly to a stereotype of male ego/insecurity.

These are real ad headlines and messages – not satire:

“Build Your Better Body in 28 Days…the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll have a body so cut, you’ll belong in an underwear ad.”

“The Best New Fat-Blasting Workout on the Planet!”

“SEALFIT – Are You Man Enough?”

The Problem With Highly-Regimented “Programs”

I’ve done “programs.”  The good ones are designed by smart people and will produce results if you’re diligent and intense in following them.

But what to do the day the program is over?  Do it all over again?…For the rest of our lives?…Or go back to whatever our fitness regimens were before we started the program?

The “keep doing forever” option is not practical.  Even if it were, it wouldn’t be good, because these programs usually have you indoors watching or listening to someone else – not getting the full range of wellness benefits from an activity mix that includes solitude, time in nature, and diversity of activity.

On the other hand, for most of us the “go back to my approach from before” option isn’t great, either.  Unless you were already satisfied with your fitness and just doing the program as an enhancer…there’s a reason you wanted to jump start fitness, and you don’t want to go right back to the “before” version of you!

Alternative: Design Your Own Plan Based on Core Principles

So, with long-term thriving in mind, OlderBeast aims to inspire and support you to create your own vision for a “sustainable for decades” fitness approach.

Start with a small number of guiding principles, then translate them into your own flexible action plan on a week-by-week basis. I wrote about a “checklist” of fundamental principles here.

Here are two examples* of translating OlderBeast principles into a six- or four-day per week plan, plus simple suggestions for how to stick to and get the most out of plans you make.

* I say “examples” instead of “templates” because I hope you take personal responsibility for this. That’s what will make it decades-long sustainable, man.
Example #1: 6-days/week with cardio variety

Nothing magic about how I’ve planned this out by specific day of week.  I personally like to have Monday be my day off, so I have more time to start off the work week effectively (and to recover from weekend physical activity, which tends to be highest).

I also avoid clustering like activities, but rather spread them out (like having things in-between dedicated cardio or strength workouts).

Example #2: 4-days/week plan with cardio variety

A four-days-a-week plan (a good place to start if you haven’t been active recently) is basically an “every other day” thing, with one two-days-in-a-row thrown in.  For that, I think weekends are usually best.

Sticking To and Getting the Most Out of Your Plans

Once you have a weekly plan in mind…

⇒ Don’t treat each day as “all or nothing” or “Activity X or bust.” If you have a time crunch or  some logistical issue that makes a planned workout un-doable, do a shorter workout or a replacement one. At very least, get outside and take a walk. That’s always doable, no matter the time, place, or weather.

And if it’s a strength session you missed…isn’t it hard to explain to yourself why you can’t at least do a few push-ups and a little core work, dude?

⇒ Don’t let a missed day turn into two, then three, etc. If you miss a planned day, no big deal…just re-commit and resume the next day.  Don’t let it spiral into letting yourself down.  You wouldn’t consciously let down a loved one, a work colleague or a customer…so love and respect yourself here, too.  Don’t self-inflict.

⇒ Don’t give up on healthy eating if you miss a workout day or have a lighter-than-planned day. For me, the temptation is to correlate these.  If I “blow” a workout plan I often feel the urge to also act in “pig day” mode. Do yourself a big favor and stay strong on nutrition.

Of course, this is better for your body, but mentally it also keeps you readier to pick up on fitness the next day, and less feeling like “well, I’m failing at this…maybe I’ll just punt and try again next week/month/year.”

Keeping your morale up and your intentions strong (mental things) is vital to taking care of your physical body over time. Be your own coach and cheerleader. You deserve and need it.

Without always being “religious,” but hopefully always being resilient, you’ll start to string together some quality weeks, brother.

If you’re working out hard and 5-6 days a week, then every 4-6 weeks give yourself an easy week.  Maybe also change things up to do some physically-oriented recreation things instead of “workouts”…make sure you get outdoors…work more on flexibility.

You’ll come back physically rested and stronger, and mentally refreshed.  Both of these things are critical to keep this up long-term.


And by the way, if you want to do a “get way stronger/fitter in X days” program, that’s awesome.  I salute you.  Then on Day X+1, please consider all this as a contribution to your “sustain and keep improving” game plan.

“Make a new plan, Stan.” (Paul Simon, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”)

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High-Intensity Interval Program Reviews: Orange Theory Fitness

There’s a lot of buzz around High-Intensity Interval Training, a.k.a. “HIIT”. Research studies highlight its effectiveness and time-efficiency for fitness development and calorie burning. New HIIT-centric gym concepts are being heavily marketed.

HITT interests me because of its inherent fitness benefits, and because it often combines endurance and strength work in an intense way.

I’ve started checking out HITT gym concepts and at-home workout programs, to add HITT into my own mix and also share findings via OlderBeast. This is the first of several reviews, starting with Orange Theory Fitness (“OTF” for short here).

Endurance , Fitness Planning & Gear , Flexibility & Alternative Fitness , Philosophy & Motivation , Strength

I Experimentally Reduced Cardio in My Fitness Mix – Here’s What Happened

There are good reasons for cardio-intensive guys to move to a better mix of endurance/strength/flexibility in the fitness mix.

Overtraining on cardio – especially without super-disciplined rest and nutrition regimes – can wear down your body, contribute to muscle loss, and allow development of imbalances that make you more prone to injury.

Also, in our time-challenged lives, too much cardio usually implies too little strength and flexibility training. And maintaining muscle tone and staying limber are huge parts of looking and feeling our best, and maximizing longevity, as we move through life’s second half.

And one big concern about reducing cardio – gaining weight/fat – may be misplaced. Evidence is emerging that strength training (with at least a somewhat-intense cadence) burns fat as well as, or better than, cardio.

With these things in mind (but still needing to overcome a “cardio reduction paranoia” mental hurdle), here’s what I changed and what I learned.

Fitness Planning & Gear

What We REALLY Need From a Workout Plan (Introducing OlderBeast Weekly Workouts)

“Just tell me what to do” is a common desire people have for workout plans. That’s understandable. Expert direction and a friendly kick in the butt are helpful.

But for 40+ guys seeking diverse fitness that’s sustainable month-in/month-out for decades…typical sources of “tell me what to do” have drawbacks. They usually don’t cover the range of activities you need to be all-over fit. They often overlook the need for exercise to be a place of mental retreat and restoration. And they rarely guide you to take charge of your own planning and motivation, which is key to long-term habits (in OlderBeast language referred to as being your own Architect). Not to mention, using “tell me what to do” sources over years and decades gets expensive.

Here’s what OlderBeasts really need from workout plans. And a public service announcement: OlderBeast is beta testing a new Weekly Workouts feature.

Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Lifelong Fitness: A Path to Sustainable Motivation for 40+ Guys

“I need to get motivated.” I’ve said this a thousand times over the years.

Once or twice in a big-picture sense when I wasn’t exercising enough, or eating well enough. Many, many times in a next-five-minutes sense. As in, “if I don’t change clothes and start a workout in the next five minutes, I’ll lose my available time window today.”

But it’s been years since I’ve had any big-picture motivation challenge, and I don’t even feel the next-five-minutes version that much anymore.

So what changed for me, motivation-wise?

  1. […] mini session or two, for ideas on how this concept might fit into an overall weekly plan, check out this OlderBeast […]

  2. […] are some example weekly plans based on this checklist of core principles. But as you’ve seen, the key idea is to have a […]

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