time-to-begin

Since the silly season has come to an end, I have been getting texts from friends asking for some workout plans. I could swear one of these friends has the text set on auto-send after Australia Day each year!

For at least the last 5 years I have exercised 5-6 days a week. Before that, I’d exercise once or twice a week, and I’d do the odd month of consistent exercise throughout the year. I’m not a fitness professional, but I have developed an exercise habit.

They do say that Habits define you

Through trial and error, I’ve found a formula that can help anyone make exercise a habit. It’s proven and has helped friends of mine (and friends of friends) do the same.

One of my good friends is a professional footballer, and another is a personal trainer based in Toronto. My formula is based on countless research and debate with them over the years, as well as with my girlfriend (I’ll connect that dot later).

Here’s what everyone wants:

1. Lose weight, get fit, feel better;
2. Start and finish the workout in 30 minutes; and
3. Do the workout at a gym or at home.

Sounds familiar? Yep, I think that would sum up most people’s criteria.

Well my formula ticks all of these boxes, and works. It has 3 principles:

1. High intensity interval training (HIIT)

It’s better to do a 30 minute high intensity workout than a 1-hour moderate exercise workout (like a jog or bike ride).

There have been a bunch of studies that have found that HIIT is effective at burning calories & visceral fat (the harmful far around your organs), increasing metabolism and reducing your heart rate. It gets better. Apparently it has also recently been proven to be the best exercise for anti-ageing.

The list goes on if you’re still not convinced. Men’s Fitness for example has listed 5 ways to torch more calories on the treadmill and Health line has highlighted the 7 benefits of high-intensity interval training.

2. The workouts

Here are two HIIT workouts you can do – one is strength based and the other is cardio based. Try and do 2-3 of these a week if you can, that’s what has had best effect for myself and others.
Workout 1 (strength)

Do these 5 exercises on repeat for 30 minutes:

1. 10 repetitions (reps) Push up
2. 10 reps Box jump or jump squat
3. 10 reps Chin ups (use an assistance machine if you need)
4. 10 reps Dips
5. Hover (30-60 seconds depending on ability)

You’ll get through 5-8 circuits depending on your fitness level. Stop for 45 seconds at the end of each circuit, and then repeat. Important thing is you don’t stop for 30 minutes (other than your interval breaks) – drop the number of reps you do if you need, but don’t stop.

Workout 2 (cardio)

We’re going to do a half hour – HIIT style! When I refer to a %, 100% is meant to be you running a lap of a 400m oval as fast as you can. 80% would involve running at a pace equivalent to running a lap of the oval at 80%.

  • Warm up (4 mins) – slow jog (50% pace)
  • Main workout (24 mins) – 2 minutes jog (50% pace), 1 minute run (70-80% pace). Repeat 8 times.
  • Cool down (2 mins) – really slow jog (30% pace).

More HIIT workouts are available here and here.

3. Make exercise a habit

This is where 1 in 2 of my friends falls down. It’s definitely where my Australia Day regular friend drops out!

The single best thing you can do is not the workout itself but, rather, making exercise a habit. I learned this from my dietician girlfriend – because the same applies to long term diet and body shape change.

I’ve done it, and I’ve helped my friends do it – here’s how!

a) Keep the exercise to 30 mins

I’ve found it’s more effective to exercise 5 days for 30 minutes at a time (total 2.5 hours) than it is to exercise 3 days for 1 hour (total 3 hours). Keep it simple. What if you don’t have half an hour a day? Wake up earlier…

b) Listen to your body

The biggest impediment to progress is injury. Listen to your body. If your Tuesday workout has left you with a tight hamstring then just go for a 30 minute walk on the Wednesday.

Give yourself at least 24 hours between HIIT workouts.

c) Do what you like

You’re going to exercise 5 days a week. I suggest you do your favourite type of workout 2 of these 5 days to break it up nicely. Mine is running or, during football season, football training. Some people love walking – that’s fine too!

d) Buddy up

Find a friend who either works out 5 days a week or wants to start. Call or text them every day, asking if they did a workout. Ask them to do the same for you.

I did this myself when I was starting out, calling or texting one of my friends who was starting out his exercise habit at the same time as me. We both now have the habit! It works.

We all need a little accountability, and you will need it when starting an exercise habit. Good luck!

Please share your feedback – any questions, get me here.

Good luck.