Health & Wellness: Staying in shape with a basic workout regimen, Part 1

As a follow-up to our column last month we’re going to look at some ways to work out at home or in a badly-equipped gym where there’s not much in the way of traditional gym equipment. Or if you’re traveling and you want to work out and the hotel where you’re staying has a terrible gym, which is the norm, here are some ways to work out that will benefit you as much as if you were in a regularly-equipped facility.
I’ve worked out for just over 47 years in gyms and also spent plenty of time running about 30 years ago or so when I was doing 35 miles a week. And I was always disdainful of workouts I read about that showed people exactly what I’m going to write about here.
I guess I was a gym snob. But now I’m a reformed gym snob and I’ve been working out in a crappy gym for the last few months in the building I just moved into. I liked everything else about the building except the gym so if I was going to live here I was going to have to come up with a new workout regimen.
Now normally my regimen changes little on an ongoing basis, since I’ll get accustomed to using the equipment in whatever gym I’m working out in at the time. I’ll make small changes here and there but generally it will be the same.
However, moving into this building left me with no choice but to completely overhaul my workout. So I went back to the basics and streamlined my workout, at least the lifting and exercise portion. I still do 20 minutes of walking on an inclined treadmill but the first 15 minutes had to be completely changed.
That’s right, I said (wrote) 15 minutes. That’s all you need to stay in shape, if, and this is a big if, you work out almost every day like I do. I do four days and take a day off and repeat. I’m not a gym rat. I don’t love to hang out in gyms. The only reason I go to the gym is to work out, not hang out.
The shorter it takes me to get my workout done, the better off I am. So 35 minutes is all it takes with the first 15 minutes devoted to muscle training and the last 20 for aerobics with a bit of muscle training too that I’ll explain about.
What I did was simplify my workout and limit it to three basic exercises: pushups, leg lifts and deep knee bends as we called them in school or squats as they’re more commonly called now.
I hadn’t done a pushup since I don’t know when and the same thing went for squats. Leglifts I’ve been doing for a number of years after I stopped doing crunches. Leg lifts are the best for your abs. There are many ways to work your abs but I’ve found that leg lifts are the best. They’re also the hardest, I think, but that’s the way it usually goes, isn’t it?
I started out doing 100 push ups and squats in four sets of 25. I do declined push ups too which are a bit harder as you put your feet onto a bench or raised surface with your hands on the floor. And I do 150 leg lifts in three sets of 50 using a weight bench which even a bad gym should have. That’s it, and it only takes about 15 minutes at a normal pace.
Having said this, however, there is one caveat. I have been in great shape for a long time so my body doesn’t need any major transformation or anything like that. I’m at the point where I just need to maintain the shape I’m in so I may be at a very different point than people who haven’t worksed ouit for a long time — or ever.
The point is, if you’re trying to create some major changes to your body this workout may not be enough. And if you’re younger you may naturally feel like doing more anyway expecially if you have the time. I’m 68 so my needs are different than many people working out.
But if you haven’t worked out for a long time then this would be a good introductory regimen to start. It’s not too demanding and as with any workout it’s easy to adjust the difficulty level up or down as you go. And there are no wieghts involved, You’re just using your body weight so if dong the number of reps I do is a little too difficult at the beginning (or any time really) just cut back some on the number of reps you do. As you get in better shape you can build back up to the level you want.
And don’t feel like the number of reps you do has to be the same as what I do. These are guidelines only. They just happen to work really well for me. And I’m getting a good well-rounded work out.
Pushups work your upper back, shoulders, forearms, abs a bit and also triceps. Squats work your quadriceps (thighs), glutes (butt) and hamstrings. Leg lifts work your abs, both lower and upper. And walking briskly on an inclined treadmill works your quads as well as your calves. And there’s also a certain amount of benefit derived for all of your leg muscles and of course your lungs.
As with any workout that you do, make sure that you have no limitations due to any medical conditions. You may even want to check with a health provider if you have any questions about your readiness to engage in strenuous exercise.
Other than that, you should be able to start whenever you want and feel your way along. And listen to your body. Occasionally, very occasionally actually, I don’t feel great on a particular day so I won’t work out. We’re not training for the Olympics or anything so don’t push yourself too hard. Slow and steady is always better.
I look at working out as something I do as part of my everyday life and as something I will do forever. So there’s no rush to get anywhere or achieve anything other than feeling good and being healthy. Good luck and if you have any questions send them to the email address on page four. And in my next column I’ll go into more detail about how to maximize this workout