The change of seasons, activities, and the coming of fall/winter if often a time when we let ourselves get out of shape. Shorter days make getting outside harder. Indoor activities like drinking, hanging out, and eating become more popular among your friends and family. High calorie comfort becomes more prominent as well, making weight gain even more of an issue.
I experience these issues every year when i come off of the road, where I just spent 6 months competing, training, living in an RV, spending most of my time outside. I get home, and everything my house has to offer is a novelty again. A Kegcooler, and big fancy mugs to go with it, A big kitchen and my wife, Kristine, who makes the best food, and lots of it. Games by the fire with the family, and lots of fun indoor games, like pinball, ping-pong, bag toss, board and card games. Of course, sitting behind my computer for hours on end is the most stagnant I get, but it is a big part of my business.
Left to my own devices, without any focus on fitness, I’ll gain 10 pounds in the first 60 days and that includes losing 5 pounds of muscle. I have done that before, and been on that path each year for the first 30 days of being home. Some tell me, “EJ, that is OK, you need to learn to relax a little and not worry about it, just enjoy yourself, and be happy you are home!” I usually take that approach for a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, as the effects are exponential and you don’t see them at first. By the time you can see the difference in your body, you have slipped quite a bit and have a lot of work to get back to where you should be. Turning the tide usually takes me another 3 weeks to notice any difference (that makes 7 weeks to just get started on recovery again) and then another 4 weeks back to where I was. So, 11 weeks from the time I get home to be back in good shape just by not doing anything for 4 weeks.
My lowest weight when I am very fixated on fitness and low body fat for competing is 159. 162 is my strongest weight and where I like to stay most of the year. I have a tolerance level for gaining weight up to 170 but panic at that point because I am on a bad trend and not in the green zone. 172 was my max a few years ago, in the winter after taking a month off. I had to work hard just to get back to good shape, instead of getting in great shape.
Where am I going with this? Here are some tips for making your fitness life much easier, and having your cake and eating it too. (Staying fit, but enjoying some down time)
If you are like me and you want to relax your fitness schedule some, and spend more time on other activities, or you have been finding that you just don’t have time for fitness and you are putting it off completely, I have some quick workouts that are easy to do, take very little time, and can be worked into normal life. Some don’t require a gym, and they all will keep you fit.
A few concepts worth remembering:
- Muscle is important- atrophy is bad- always keep muscles from shrinking down, getting tight, and getting layered with fat.
- Start your engines- rev them up, and keep the system ready- getting your heart rate up, your cardio system working at capacity keeps your body from shutting itself down. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, it can be around the block.
- 1 set of any exercise is 100 times better than zero sets. Doing something makes your body respond and keeps it awake. Doing nothing is the culprit.
OK- here are some of my methods of “doing something” when I feel like doing nothing.
Weights- My “Fat Off/Muscle On” circuit workout is 3 sets and I do it in 20 minutes, including the warm-up. It consists of:
- Warm-up with 12 pound dumbells- side raises, front raises, sword draws, overhead press, curls, and straight arm bend over reverse flys.
- bench press or push ups
- pull ups
- curls and then overhead press with 30-35 pound dumbbells
- bent over rows with 75 pound dumbbells.
- Ab sequence of 9 different moves- 10 reps each.
the entire workout takes 20 minutes if I do 3 sets. 3 sets is a very intense workout and if I am not in the mood, it can make me want to skip it. However, 1 set, when you include the warm-up only takes 8 minutes and is fun and really not hard. While you won’t get super strong doing 1 set, you don’t see a slide in your strength, and if you have not been doing any workouts, you will see improvement. If you have a home gym of any kind, this is a very easy way to get yourself doing a good weight program, with little stress. I find myself doing this everyday, instead of 3 times/week, because it is so fast and easy. That is 7 sets/week instead of the prescribed 9 sets of the full blown schedule. Not bad! I also go with the saying “Only begin and the mind grows heated, only begin and the task will be completed!” This means that you will find that after 1 set, you will, sometimes, maybe even often, go for a second set, and, occasionally a third set. Now we are doing the work, not by forcing ourselves, but because we want to. That feels good. I am on this program today. It is October 24th and I have been doing zero training since I got home from the World Extreme Racing Championships, which the Finals were on October 2nd. I went from there to Switzerland where I ate too much drank too much, and then home where I kept doing the same. I started doing 1 set of my workout last week, and am finding myself wanting to do a second set now.
Benefits of this weight program:
- Increased muscle power, flexibility, and strength.
- Reduced tightness in shoulders, neck,, lower back, hamstrings, and abs
- less fat, more muscle
- Increased feeling of fitness, less fatigue for normal activities during the day.
Running/calisthenics: Run/Jump/Push/Run Workout
Here is a workout that requires nothing but a pair of shoes and can also be done in abbreviated form.
- Start with a 10 push-up and 25 jumping jack warmup and go into an easy jog for 4 minutes.
- After 4 minutes- do 20 push-ups and 50 jumping jacks.
- Back to another 4 minute run, but this time pick up the past for a faster run, trying to push yourself, especially for the last 2 minutes.
- Another 20 push-ups and 25 jumping jacks.
You can stop there after 10 minutes of exercise, and as long as you pushed hard on the final 4 minutes of running, you have done a world of good. If you are still feeling like more, repeat again one or two more times. It will help you if you are using my Pear Sports App and workout to stay motivated and you will likely do more than just the first 2 sets.
You are likely a kayaker, like me, and there is nothing like getting out on the water for feeling good about life, so adding a workout to the excursion is combining too good things.
The easiest workout is a relaxed version of my “Power Kayak Mixer” where you do a 5 minute endurance piece and then some 20 second sprints. Again, the way to mentally get yourself to do this and not stress that you are not ready to work hard, etc.. is to simply get your kayak (any kayak!) on the water at a place you want to paddle. It can be a lake, river, bay, ocean, anything. Start by paddling around, heading towards a place you want to go, even if you are with a friend that doesn’t want to do a workout, we can pull this off.
Now- point at your target and pick up the pace slowly from an easy paddle to medium paddle, to hard paddle and try to push through to a very hard paddle for 5 minutes. Each minute is faster with the final minute being as hard as you can. Yea, you are done if you want to be! You can turn back towards your friend and you will be surprised that you are not that far ahead. Now plan on doing 5 sprints- 20 seconds long (40 strokes) About 40 seconds rest between each one. This will take another 5 minutes- making your “workout” part of the paddle only 10 minutes long. Enjoy the rest of your time out. If you are so inclined, do 5 more sprints, or 1 more 5 minute piece.
I hope this helps get you off the couch, and keeps you moving, happy, and fit!
I am heading down for a Fat Off/Muscle on Workout right now… 1 set… maybe 2, we’ll see.
I am going to do some speed disc golf after (another cool workout- all cardio, all game, super fun and really effective… it doesn’t hurt that I have a course in my back yard )
your fitness coach if you want!
You can download the Pear Sports App for free at the iTunes store. Any of my workouts (just search for Eric Jackson under trainers) mentioned above are available as well, but they cost between $2.99- $9.99 depending on the workout. If you get the hardware (bluetooth heart rate monitor/ special headphones with controller on it) then you really have a sweet set up for working out and there are hundreds of amazing workouts and plans available from many incredible coaches/athletes.