90-Day Plan for (Re)Starting Fitness as a Habit

At some point, nearly all of us have been there: you’re working hard, commuting, maybe traveling, investing a lot of time with family…and NOT GETTING MUCH EXERCISE, if any.

It’s hard to move toward fitness from this place, partly because of the time challenge. But equally or sometimes even more, this is what’s tough: simply knowing “where to start.” And feeling that uncertainty makes it very hard to decide to start, dude.

As a friend recently described falling out of his exercise routine, “once the ‘switch’ is turned off, it’s #$%&! hard to flip it back on again.”

So use the fact that you’re reading this as a kick in the butt, man. Not from me, really, but from your inner self that motivated you to read this. Flip that switch!

Here’s my ultra-simple suggestion for a 90-day plan.

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At some point, nearly all of us have been there: you’re working hard, commuting, maybe traveling, investing a lot of time with family…and NOT GETTING MUCH EXERCISE, if any.

It’s hard to move toward fitness from this place. Partly because of the time challenge. But equally or sometimes even more, this is what’s tough: simply knowing “where to start.” And feeling that uncertainty makes it very hard to decide to start, dude.

As a friend recently described falling out of his exercise routine, “once the ‘switch’ is turned off, it’s #$%&! hard to flip it back on again.”

So use the fact that you’re reading this as a kick in the butt, man. Not from me, really, but from your inner self that motivated you to read this. Flip that switch! Here’s a 90-day plan to do it…an answer to the question “where to start?”

ULTRA-SIMPLE PLAN TO START OR RE-START ON FITNESS

Here’s my ultra-simple suggestion for a 90-day plan. Links to great how-to resources on these things are at the bottom of this article.

  1. Pick one type of endurance activity. Start a very modest and gradual program over ~7-10 weeks, to get to a 3-times-a-week, 30+minutes-per-workout habit.
  2. Add a twice-a-week, 15-minute strength routine with a few simple exercises (body weight calisthenics). This can be on 2+ of the days you do cardio, or on a couple of the other days in-between.
  3. In general, walk a little more.
  4. Make at least 1-2 small improvements in what you eat (lots of ideas for that here).

I’ve described this as a 90-day plan, because that’s about how long research says it takes for new habits to become productively ingrained.

But this is guaranteed to make you feel better, physically and mentally, long before 90 days. You’ll feel it within a small number of weeks. And it will provide positive motivation to keep going.

I just corresponded with an old friend who started like this, from a near-zero starting point. Now he’s doing triathlons at a competitive level and feels like a totally new man. I’m not suggesting this is everyone’s definition of “success” here — at all. But it illustrates that many of us have a powerful, high-stamina athlete lurking inside us, waiting to be freed and nurtured.

IDEAL CARDIO EXERCISE FOR 90-DAY START PLAN: RUNNING

For the cardio, there are lots of options. But if all possible, I recommend running. Or, using walk/run intervals to build up to continuous running.

Why running?

  • No gym membership required
  • No one else’s schedule to adhere to
  • The simplest of equipment: running shoes. And maybe if required to pull it off time-wise, a running stroller. This lets you give your wife a break at the same time you do something for yourself, AND spend time with a young kid(s). I bet you can borrow a running stroller from a friend whose kids are older now, or buy one cheap on Craigslist.

Building your endurance to run is really fulfilling and further motivational, even if it’s just for a mile or two initially (or 3.1, which is 5K race distance, by the way; just saying).

Yeah, it may suck at the beginning. But NOT for long. Just keep thinking of the scene in Rocky where he exalts at the top of the Philadelphia Art Museum steps. Corny, but cool.

Of course, in some instances foot, knee, hip or back issues make running truly not doable. If that’s your situation, brother…then use biking, swimming or cardio machines in a gym. Whatever it takes.

But if you can run, then run.

TAKE ACTION: STARTER GUIDES FOR RUNNING & BEGINNER CALISTHENICS

Here’s a solid guide on a program to start running. And one on beginner calisthenics workouts. Some of the workouts here require no equipment at all. Others you may choose call for a place to do chin-ups or (at the start) bar hangs. There’s a great home chin-up bar on OlderBeast’s recommended products page, or you can always walk or run to a nearby playground to find a bar.

For both running and strength work, this type of “begin at the beginning” approach will be perfect for some guys’ current starting point and for the entirety of the 90 days. Others of you might think “OK, I’m doing this, and I can do more.” Well, that’s great, brother.

Onward and upward are the only true guidelines here.

 

“You see, it’s all clear. You were meant to be here. From the beginning.” (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, From the Beginning–click to listen)

 

If you think this would be useful to others, please help spread the word about OlderBeast by sharing this post with the social media buttons below. THANKS, MAN.

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For Fast, Clear Results: Try This 10-15 Minute “Yoga Tonic” Each Morning

TWO QUESTIONS:

1. Are you mentally sold on the idea of yoga, but just not able to do it much because of other fitness and life priorities?

In my case, I’m ultra-sold, but I still only do a full yoga practice once a week. I don’t want to displace other workouts or my rest day. But I know I’m missing out on some of yoga’s benefits from this infrequency (especially the flexibility benefit). 

2. Do you feel sometimes feel stiff and sluggish when you get out of bed in the morning? I do.

For both of these reasons, I started doing this 10-15 minute mini-yoga practice most mornings.

I’ve noticed clear improvements in my flexibility and ability to really nail and hold some key poses. And it reliably limbers up and energizes me, too. 

If you’re a seldom-yoga guy, this will bring you (physical and also mental) benefits as a standalone habit. And if you do longer-form yoga practices with some regularity but it’s not feeling like “enough,” this consistent short-form habit will set you up for better performance when you do spend longer on the mat.

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Fitness Planning & Gear , Philosophy & Motivation

Fitness Setbacks: You WILL Overcome! (Here are Suggestions to Help)

As 40+ guys living in the real world of work, family, and our own not-bulletproof anatomy, setbacks to fitness and nutrition plans are inevitable.

In the last decade, mine included plantar fasciitis (foot/heal pain), a strained rotator cuff, and sporadic right knee pain…not to mention crunch times at work that constrained exercise as effectively as any injury.

With “experience being the best teacher,” the OlderBeast tenets of fitness variety, workout/recovery sequencing, and personal time prioritization help minimize such setbacks. But still, they’ll happen – so here are a few suggestions for dealing with injuries and fitness interruptions in a way that minimizes impact, and even gets longer-term benefits from them.

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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).

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In defense (and praise) of the EASY workout

It’s important to keep physically challenging ourselves as we age. That’s why OlderBeast feature things like push-up challenges, exhortations to increase your weekly workout frequency, and calls to keep on running uphill.

But the name of the game is to do it thoughtfully, man — in a way we can sustain for years and hopefully decades. And on some days that calls for a game-time decision to do an EASY workout.

There’s the planned easy workout, to recover from intense effort yesterday or get ready to go hard tomorrow. But here, I want to talk about something different…a last-minute call to just do something “light” today.

Maybe a shorter and/or slower run. Or just some light body weight exercises and stretching. Or some lower-intensity cardio on a machine and then a short core routine.

The idea of switching to an easier workout is really about our relationship with motivation: having more than one response to call on when we feel unmotivated.

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