Some opening thoughts: Speaking only from my personal experience, daily exercise is not only a powerful way to regulate performance but a way to enhance overall quality of life. Whether you’re a stay at home parent or a high-octane professional, exercise helps you level up. As they say on their website, the American Heart Association recommends “at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. But what if you’re tight on time? Then, be creative and break up your activity into daily bouts of 3-10-minute increments.” Here is a beginner’s guide for anyone looking to introduce daily movement into their everyday life.
Workout structure should be at once completely customizable and easy to understand. Your ability to achieve your goals as a result of training will ALWAYS be the most accurate measure of success, and it is for this reason I have developed this Skeleton Key: a solution to coming to the gym “unprepared”.
Through proper training, you’ll ALWAYS be prepared, so long as you’re able to develop the moves and skills in your own time.
Step 1: What is your long-term objective?
The easiest way to think about our training is by first setting small goals to hone in on a long-term objective… Do you want to look like a lean distance swimmer or swimwear model? Start training like one! Do you have dreams of skiing in Lake Tahoe or Surfing in Malibu? You need to start simulating what it’s like to push yourself in those circumstances!
Below is a brief overview of some examples specific types of athletes and some exercise protocols to maximize the effectiveness their time spent the training.
In a few words: “Float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee” –Muhammed Ali
Protocols: Shadowboxing, Distance Running, High Intensity Interval Training, Heavy Bag Training, Jump Rope, Balance and Coordination, Specific Drills for Power Agility
The Marathon/ Distance Runner:
In a few words: "Running long offers a dress rehearsal. Running long teaches the stress of lifting feet 5,000 times per hour. Running long builds confidence."John Bingham
Endurance Training (Progressively Longer Runs; finally approaching full distance) Long Rows, Light Weightlifting for endurance and conditioning (15-25 reps of low weight (about 40-60% of your 1 Rep Maximum Weight)
In a few words: “Turn off the world, because it’s just you and the water now.” -Anonymous
Endurance Weightlifting for Arm, Back, Leg and Core Strength, High Intensity Interval Training, and Cardio Training for Speed (400-800m Swims) and Endurance (>800m)
The Baseball Player:
In a few words: “Whether your one of the nine on defense, or the lone man at the plate, every moment is a test of preparedness.” –Dan P. Daly
Protocols: Weightlifting for Total Body Strength, Explosive Power, Flexibility, Agility, and Game/Position-Specific Drilling
In a few words: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” -John Muir
Protocols: Strength and Endurance Weightlifting for the Back and Legs, Core Training, Bending Exercises to Increase Mobility, Weighted Movement Exercise (Lunges, Step-Ups, Squats, etc.)
In a few words: “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It's to enjoy each step along the way.” -Wayne Dyer
Protocols: Agility Circuits, Flexibility Training, Unilateral Strength and Endurance Training, coordination, Specific Routines.
The Soccer Player:
In a few words: “Football is the ballet of the masses.”
― Dmitri Shostakovich
Protocols: Using Unilateral Strength, Explosive Power Drills, Strength and Endurance Weightlifting for full body, Distance and Endurance Cardio Training.
In a few words: "One of the greatest things about the sport of surfing is that you need only three things: your body, a surfboard, and a wave."-Naima Green
Protocols: GOING SURFING, Swimming, Flexibility training, Balance, Coordination, Strength training.
Repition (Rep) Ranges for Different Types of Training Goals
For Beginners- 8-12 reps (this gives you the most benefits from strength, endurance, and conditioning, thus giving you a stronger foundation to grow any way you chose)
For Strength- 6-8 reps per set.
For Power-3-4 reps,
For Strength & Conditioning- 8-12 reps,
For Endurance-15-25 reps
For Flexibility (Range of Motion)- No more than 60 seconds per move
Flexibility (Ballistic)- No more than 20 seconds per move
But Wait! What Should My Week of Training look like? When trying to answer this question, you must first consider how many days per week you’re giving yourself the opportunity to work towards your goals. Here are some examples:
1-2 Days Per Week (Poor): This is a sub-par physical fitness allowance, but if it’s all you’ve got to hit the weights, then you should be spending both days working ALL MAJOR MUSCLE GROUPS. Start with legs, focusing on the quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings. Then, move into the upper body, focusing on Chest and Arms on your first day, then back and core on your second day (for example). Since the person working out once or twice a week will be working out all major muscles, they should give themselves no less than 48 hours between workout sessions.
3 Days Per Week(Acceptable): A 3-Day Split should incorporate Upper Body, lower body, and High Intensity Full Body days to give you an overall muscle building and fat burning routine that maximizes the time you have on the gym floor.
4-5 Days Per Week (Optimal): Here, things start to get interesting. With at least four days to train each week, we can focus more on individual muscle groups, incorporating cardio and/or abs into each. The most successful incorporate a combination of strength training and cardiovascular endurance training, so it’s critical that your workout do the same.
6-7 Days Per Week(Performance): While some may think “more is just better” when it comes to exercise, you will find yourself beaten down if you do not rest your muscles properly. NOBODY SHOULD BE LIFTING WEIGHTS WITH HIGH INTENSITY 7-DAYS PER WEEK. For this reason, take 1-2 days to rest your muscles by performing “active rest” routines. A great way to do this is get into your favorite outdoor activities like Hiking, Martial Arts, Swimming, Biking, Running, Surfing, or Gardening/ Farming.
Step 2: How Much Time Do I Want to Spend?
Ideally, you have at least 45 minutes to dedicate to working out or training each day. Granted, life often finds new and inventive ways of preventing that, so we need to be adaptable. Use these time-based strategies to structure your workout:
≤5-6 minutes: This is your “Cup of Coffee” workout; a quick jolt of acitivity to stimulate the Central Nervous System just enough to challenge cardio respiratory (heart) health. 3-6 exercises, performing each for 60 to 90 seconds. No rest. In both men and women, the
10-15 minutes: If you’re crunched for time, use this scaffold to jumpstart your morning routine or sneak in a workout on your lunch break (and still have some time to enjoy a post-workout meal). Your focus is continuous movement; make sure all your exercises are on a time interval (either 60 seconds of work with as little rest as needed, or two sets of 45 seconds with 15 seconds to rest in between for each exercise). Pick 4-6 exercises that incorporate each of the bodies large muscles and core, and perform as a circuit. Do as many circuits as your time window allows.
20-25 minutes: An excellent timeframe to get a solid, multi-stage workout is thirty minutes. But sometimes, we don’t have such a luxury. Sometimes that other five minutes could be the difference between remembering to eat breakfast, getting that report truly DONE, or getting the kids our the door truly PREPARED for the day. Likewise, for those willing to eat lunch at their desk, this is an excellent release for a middle of the day workout to supercharge the second half of your day. Using a combination of traditional “sets of reps” training and a “High Intensity Interval” training approach, you can create a great muscle-group specific workout to help train for your next big goal. Try one, main, challenging resistance exercise –like a Press, Row, Squat, Deadlift, or Kettle Bell Swing– performed for 4 sets, and two supporting muscle exercises, performed for 3 sets. Use the goal rep ranges above for guidance.
For the second half of your workout, focus on creating a circuit that can be performed 3-4 times through, to challenge the body’s endurance and mental toughness. This time of
30-35 minutes: This is one of our peak opportunity periods for a great workout. With thirty minutes to get down to business, you’ll be able to have the same benefits as above, but with an even more beneficial metabolic after-burn in the form of an abdominal circuit. Try spending the last 5-12 minutes of your workout doing a moderate-high paced abdominal or bodyweight circuit to help burn extra fat and keep your endurance improving.
45 minutes: For a workout of this length (and beyond), it becomes even more critical to spend adequate time warming up for your workout. Take the first 8-10 minutes to stretch; using a combination
of body-part-specific warm ups and dynamic stretches to raise the body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles. This is also a great time for a mile run or similar short burst of cardio.
Once you’ve gotten your body up to speed, think about what you’re looking to achieve. Any weightlifting (strength, power, endurance, etc.) should be broken down using the Goal Rep Ranges list above. Include 5-8 lifting exercises, two of which are major focus moves; like Back Squats and Bicep Curls. A workout of this kind may look something like this:
Strength/Endurance Week– Back & Bicep Day
1.Back Squats: 4 sets; 12-15 Reps
2.Single-Leg Press: 3 sets; 12-15 reps each leg
3.Leg Machine Extension; 2-3 sets; 12-15 reps
4.Leg Machine Curl: 2-3 sets; 12-15 reps
5.Bicep Curl with E-Z Curl Barbell: 4 sets; 12-15 reps
6.Alternating Single Arm Bicep Curls: 2-3 sets; 12-15 reps
7.Preacher Curls: 2-3 sets; 12-15 reps
8.Ab Circuit: 2-3 Rounds 60 sec Each Exercise; 2-3 rounds Toe-Touch Walkouts, Reverse Crunches, 1-2-3 Ups, Side Planks or Thread-the-Needle Planks
Still have time to spare?
1.5-5k Run around a track (timed)
For workouts of this length, be sure to take at least 5 minutes to stretch immediately before and following your workout.
60-75 minutes: The structure of a workout this size is designed specifically for those who have an intense focus on their goals. When we think about how long we’re working out, we don’t concern ourselves with any rest periods longer than 2-3 minutes. Ever. Of course, we all need the occasional bathroom break, but try turning your phone on Airplane mode for the workout; it may change your whole approach to the work you’re doing. If this is impossible, still do what you can to keep engaged in the task at hand.
The structure differences between this length and its 45 minute cousin are few–just add more main-stay exercises to your routine to work the target muscle group with additional intensity. When training for a specific sport or discipline, add a 10-15 minute section of specificity drills to the workout immediately following the warm up for specific athletic/ training goals. Time permitting, this can be repeated towards the end of the workout as well to simulate the rigors of competition.
Step 3: How am I Feeling?
The most important objective of physical fitness is to be able to walk away feeling better than when you started. This is exactly why before every workout, you must ask yourself how your body feels. If you are feeling sharp pains in your hips, lower back, or knees and your supposed to be working out your legs, you should probably focus on just maintenance for the upper body, and returning to your regularly scheduled work tomorrow.
Likewise, if you’re coming home from the Doctor’s office, and your doctor just confirmed you have the flu, it’s probably not a good day to try a High Intensity Interval circuit or that heavy shoulder day your trainer gave you for homework. If your sick, let your body heal properly by resting. Do not work out when you are seriously under the weather or ill. But, there are ways we can be smart about training moderately, even when we’re not feeling our best.
For those who want to work through their sniffles, light resistance training and short ab-circuits that require little movement are an easy way to keep up time under tension.* Try Any Three of these moves in circuit if you’re not going to stay in bed:
- 1.Bodyweight Squats with Hands Behind Head (2-5 sets of 15-20 reps)
- 2.Standing Forward and Backward Lunges (Doing Forwards on each leg, THEN Backwards on each leg, complete 2-5 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg)
- 3.Easy-Up Push-Ups on Knees (2-3 sets, 10-12 reps)
- 4.Standard Push-Up
- 5.Plank on Elbows (3-4 individual planks, 45-60sec each)
- 6.Flutter Kicks (2-5 sets, 30-60 seconds each)
- 7.Russian Twists (2-3 Sets, 60 seconds Each)
- 8.Dead Hangs on Pull-Up Bar (Just hold your weight in the air as long as you can; 3-5 holds)
- 9.Yoga Down-Dog to Cobra (10 times)
*The easiest way to maintenance or increase the quality of our training is to have as much time under tension as possible. Use things like isometric loading, eccentric loading, and higher reps with lower weight to help get your body more familiar
Have questions this didn’t answer? Let me know on Facebook at Jungle Strength, or online @ Junglestrength.com, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org