Last month I had the opportunity to profess my love of kettlebell training in the context of New Year’s fitness resolutions. The process of writing that article inspired me twofold. First, I was inspired to jump on the New Year’s fitness bandwagon (albeit a month early). Second, and probably more importantly, I was able to conjure up an idea for my first follow-up article for Eden Prairie Lifestyle Magazine – commit to a simple home workout for one month, do it daily, and report the experience.
What I did.
When deciding on a workout, I had a few central priorities – simplicity, duration, and difficulty. More specifically, I wanted a workout that incorporated simple exercises that most people are familiar with, I wanted the total duration to be relatively short (around 40-45 minutes), and I wanted it to be strenuous, but not too strenuous. As I discussed last month, I tend to gravitate towards high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. As the name suggests, this type of workout tends to be really intense and generally does not last for more than 30 minutes. My typical workouts with kettlebells also tend to incorporate a lot of advanced kettlebell maneuvers (e.g., clean, snatch, overhead lunges, etc.). Based on all of this information, I decided that my typical exercise format did not meet the aforementioned criteria and would be less relatable to the masses.
What I ended up deciding on was pretty simple – row a total of 5000 meters on a rowing machine and complete a total of 100 push-ups and 100 kettlebell swings.
Now for my big disclaimer: I am just your average, everyday Realtor/writer with a Ph.D. in clinical/forensic psychology – not a personal trainer. As such, I am not qualified nor do I wish to prescribe workout routines to others. The types of exercises, distances, and reps of this workout are specific to my level of physical fitness and the resources I have available at my home. I chose these particular exercises because the movements are pretty simple and familiar to most and because I knew I could complete everything in about 40 minutes at a moderately strenuous pace. Anyone that might be inspired to try something similar at home is urged to select exercises, distances, and repetitions that are consistent with their skill set and level of physical fitness. Or better yet, visit a local certified personal trainer and have them design a workout for you! The point is to workout hard (not too hard) for 40 minutes daily.
How I did it.
One thing that I realized early on during this project was that doing the same exercise routine every day gets monotonous. In order to combat this mental fatigue, I began splitting up the workout into different sets. For example, some days I would break up the workout into 10 sets of 500-meter rows, 10 push-ups, and 10 kettlebell swings. On days that I was feeling particularly masochistic, I would do the workout in order – 5000-meter row, 100 push-ups, 100 kettlebell swings.
After selecting my workout, but before actually embarking on this fitness adventure, I reluctantly stood on a scale for the first time in over a year and glumly recorded my weight. After about a week I started noticing changes in my general physique as well as some (slightly) encouraging numbers on the scale. Though I generally consider myself to be a pretty happy and upbeat guy, I additionally noted that my overall mood was better and my energy level and focus was improving as the weeks went by. Now, as the month comes to an end, I find myself 10 pounds lighter with an improved physique and a little extra pep-in-my-step.
This past month has proved to be invaluable. First and foremost, I learned that committing to 40 minutes of exercise per day is not all that difficult. Sure, some days I would walk down to my basement hoping that my kettlebell had sprouted legs and run away from home, but finding the time to complete the workouts and committing to them on a daily basis was surprisingly pretty easy (even with 2 crazy young children and a busy work schedule). Writing this article also highlighted the importance that staying physically active plays in my life. Not only is it something that I enjoy and value, but I feel like the process made me a better person – physically, mentally, and emotionally.