You know that strength is the fountain of youth.
You also know that resistance training is the best way to get strong.
And you really want to get started today.
But we realize you may prefer to get a bit of experience under your belt before taking the plunge and:
• Joining a gym, or
• Putting together an awesome home gym
• Starting a training program based on squats, deadlifts, and bench presses
Getting in shape is a marathon, not a sprint.
As Mark Twain put it:
The secret to getting ahead is getting started
So start as slowly as you need to, build momentum, and become unstoppable.
Sound good? Then this whole-body workout is for you.
Basic Workout Template
We’re going to use a basic template that’s really flexible, so you can perform the workout almost anywhere: a well-equipped gym, a hotel room, or a tropical island beach.
Plus it’s quick and effective, which means you’ll get great results without turning your life upside down.
And don’t worry if you’re new to exercise because this workout can be as hard or as easy as you want it to be.
So it’s ideal for busy dads just starting out.
This is actually the exact workout I do when I’m away from home and can’t get to a gym.
I’ve done it in some weird and wonderful places: a park in Tokyo, a beach in Okinawa (home of our incredible taco rice recipe), and an airport hotel in Taiwan.
Now, in each workout you do just four exercises:
1. An upper-body “push” exercise
2. A lower-body exercise
3. An upper-body “pull” exercise
4. A cardio exercise
Don’t worry – we’ll have plenty of examples later on, but here’s an idea of what we mean:
Upper-body push: Push-ups
Lower body: Bodyweight squats
Upper-body pull: Chin-ups
Cardio: Jumping rope
Again, don’t worry if any or all of those are too hard/easy for you – they’re just examples.
We can always choose exercises that are just right for both our ability and the equipment we have available.
So, how do we do the workout itself?
• Perform the first three exercises in order without resting (doing 8-12 repetitions for each exercise)
• Immediately do 3-5 minutes of the cardio exercise
• Rest for 1 minute
• Repeat the circuit 1 to 4 more times
That’s it! A simple, quick and efficient workout that can be performed almost anywhere in around only 20 – 40 minutes.
This workout template is pretty much bombproof, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
● Always warm up thoroughly beforehand by doing 3-5 minutes of cardio, followed by a light version of your circuit (this should feel really easy)
● Use a weight (or exercise variation) that allows you to perform 8-12 repetitions per exercise
● Don’t go to failure on any exercise, always leave 1 or 2 full repetitions in the tank
● If the weight doesn’t allow perfect form, it’s too heavy to use
● The cardio exercise should be intense – if you’re able to hold a conversation while doing it, you need to push harder
● Always try to use a little more weight each workout compared with last, even if it’s only ½ pound
● Get in the habit of logging your workouts (exercises, weight used, repetitions completed, number of circuits performed, and the total time taken)
● Perform the workout two or three times per week, leaving at least one full day between workouts (e.g. work out Mon/Thu or Mon/Wed/Fri)
● The very first time you do this workout, do the warm-up and then only one full circuit
Once you’ve been doing this workout for a couple of weeks or so, you’ll start noticing some welcome changes in your body.
Muscles that were a little soft and weak are now definitely firmer and stronger.
What felt challenging in the first session or two now feels pretty easy.
The rate of progress is fast and addictive, and this is where we start building some serious momentum.
Now if weight loss is your main objective, you could combine this workout with our rapid 6-week fat-loss program to really turbocharge your results.
Your transformation will be astonishing.
And if you want to milk as much strength gain from this program as possible, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First off, don’t fall into the trap of trying to force progress by hammering yourself into the ground.
We have to coax the body into getting stronger, not pound it into submission.
So resist the urge to do more and more circuits, work out six days per week, or make the circuit more complex.
Sure, that may make you tired and sore but getting tired and sore isn’t our objective, getting stronger is.
This fundamental misunderstanding is hands-down the main reason why people don’t get stronger.
So focus on adding small amounts of weight each time, or using more challenging variations of the exercise.
Now, you may also find that using different exercises each time you do the workout makes it kind of hard to judge progress.
While variety helps prevent boredom, it means you don’t have a consistent benchmark to compare against.
Fortunately, this workout is flexible – so if you want to keep using the same exercises, go right ahead.
Remember that complexity doesn’t drive progress, making the exercises incrementally harder does.
On the other hand, if you tend to get bored easily and variety is the only thing that makes workouts bearable, feel free to mix up the exercises as much as you want.
A decent program that you can stick to is always preferable to a perfect program that you can’t.
OK, coming up are some examples of upper-body push, lower body, upper-body pull, and cardio exercises
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and you can always improvise with whatever you have available.
I actually did this workout on board a ship a few years back: push ups, single-leg squats, and inverted rows using the desk in my cabin.
And cardio? I took the elevator to the bottom deck, then ran the stairs all the way to the top deck.
Doesn’t sound too tough, right? But that sucker had eleven decks!
Like Theodore Roosevelt said:
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are
So if you have a TRX suspension trainer, some dumbells, a kettlebell, a barbell, or even just your own bodyweight, there’s something you can do today.
So let’s jump in and get started!
First off, here’s a video showing some example upper-body push exercises.
Straightforward enough, right?
OK, next up is a video showing some example lower-body exercises.
And, you guessed it, here’s a video showing some example upper-body pull exercises.
Finally, here’s a video showing some example cardio exercises.
Of course, if you have a rower, elliptical trainer, exercise bike, hill to run up, stairs to climb or an ocean to swim in, those can all work fine too.
Putting it Together
OK, here I am practicing what I preach.
These short videos show one circuit each using either bodyweight, dumbells, a kettlebell, the TRX, or a barbell.
TRX suspension trainer
Just to recap, the workout is:
1. Upper-body push (8-12 repetitions), immediately followed by
2. Lower body (8-12 repetitions), immediately followed by
3. Upper-body pull (8-12 repetitions), immediately followed by
4. Cardio (3-5 minutes hard)
5. Rest one minute, then repeat the circuit 1-4 more times.
Simple, but effective.
Now go get ’em!
Share this article with your friends!
Check out the Superfitdads book How To Get Lean, Strong & Bulletproof here!