A friend suggested that I do a segment on the best free, youtube fitness channels. I casually noted that was a great idea and then scurried home to figure out what a youtube fitness channel was. This initial recon revealed an astounding number of free workouts available on youtube and unleashed a flood of new fitness trends that were not on my radar at all. Admittedly, I have struggled to return to a regular fitness routine since my first child was born (almost 5 years ago!!!), and I was a little embarrassed looking at this 2012 picture from a local fitness magazine where we were labeled a "fit couple," a title that currently is more ironic than anything else. Plus, even in those days of fitness my workouts were almost exclusively running with the occasional lifting session done only at the gym with weights and equipment. As a result, many trends and workout options have eluded me. My mind - and all excuses - have been blown in the last few weeks as I have unearthed the multitude of workout options that are free, easily accessible, and doable at home with no equipment.
With that in mind, I'm starting the month out with a three-part fitness series. My hope in this process is to explore some of the trends out there while also building the habits necessary to incorporate a few of these workouts into my weekly routine. I will most definitely not begin this with a dramatic weigh-in or fitness overview - after all the goal is to be up to date, dare I say conversational, with current trends - but I will note that I begin this series 9 pounds above my pre-baby weight and with less upper body and ab strength than I'd like. I'll loosely keep an eye on any physical improvements that come out of this research. The last fitness trend that I really jumped on board with was P90X, and I remember the focus was "muscle confusion." I'm not sure we're still focused on muscle confusion, but I imagine I'll achieve that goal doing new workouts daily for about 4 weeks. Here goes!
Week 1 I've labeled creatively and eloquently as "at-home, printable, no-equipment workouts." This is a genre that emerged from my Pinterest exploration - see App-sessed for more details on how I was introduced to Pinterest. I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to health and fitness (that's right, I have a Pinterest account now and it has boards.) In exploring pins for that board, I was stunned with the number of one-page, printable workouts that seemed perfect for my current posture in life - and, I think, for many people that read this blog. The workouts are easy to do in any location - have 30 minutes while waiting for ballet to be over? need an evening workout while traveling for work? want to get your heart rate up in the short window that everyone is napping or quiet? - are free, are relatively quick and high-intensity, and no equipment is necessary. Another thing I like about these - they are printable, so you don't need to have your phone with you (I don't like to use my phone during a workout. I'm fine having it nearby with music or a podcast, but don't like to have to look at it as it makes me feel overly plugged in, seeing messages/calls/emails distracts me, etc.) While there are a number of specific workouts you can search for in this genre (legs, abs, toning, weight loss, etc.), I have just focused on overall workouts with no specific outcome beyond overall health and fitness. Here are my favorite six, in no particular order:
1. Full Body Workout from Best at Home Workouts by Shaping Up to be a Mom is a great resource. I loved her Full Body Workout, which I was able to do it in thirty minutes and that kept my heart rate in either the fat burn or cardio zone the entire time. Admittedly, I had to look up a Russian twist, donkey kicks, bicycle crunches, and cross body punches. I also watched a quick video on proper form for burpees and tricep dips.
One note about this type of workout: because these are just one-pagers, there are no visuals or descriptions about the exercises. Before starting, I have a look at any exercises I don't know how to do and watch a quick tutorial so that once I start the workout I don't have to take any breaks. Throughout this post, I've linked a number of workouts to video tutorials, which should make it faster for you to get up to speed. (I do this while, somewhat anxiously, acknowledging that perhaps everyone is already familiar with bird dogs, donkey kicks, plie squats, and Russian twists, and these are just more venmo-style references that I'm a little late on.)
While this Full Body Workout is a variation on a number of one-page workouts out there, I like this particular one because of the way she has broken things down and because it comes with a number of other resources. In accessing the one article - linked by picture above - you can easily see and print 9 different workouts. I don't know that I'll dive into "bring sexy back" or "the sexy shoulder workout" right away, but I am going to do the arm workout (dumbbells are required, but this is the one piece of equipment I actually have, gathering dust, at home), leg day (once I recover from Drop 10, see below), body-weight workout, and cardio countdown.
I recommend pinning - or printing if you're like me and still low-tech on some things - this resource. Start with the full body but keep them all on file as you plan your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.
2. Daily Workout Plan is a seven-day workout routine created by Back On Pointe, a former dancer that created this as part of her plan to get back into dancing shape. Her workouts were created with the vision of helping you build a routine, and the daily workouts are created so that you can do them throughout the day, rather than all at one time. While I appreciate this planning, I still prefer to do them all at once - breaking up workouts makes it hard for me to get the psychological benefits from the workout (thus making it harder for me to commit to fully integrating them into my daily life). Either way, I like her vision, and it gives you options.
This workout is one of my favorites because it gives me a thoughtless, no-excuse week of workouts. There is no question what to do next or whether you'll do something the next day (the days are even labeled, so if you follow her plan it's a fool-proof journey to a week of workouts.) The workouts are a little less intense than some of the others included in this list; however, the fact that you have seven days in a row is a good complement to this. I can't imagine that it will turn me into a dancer, but I enjoy it and look forward to doing the full week periodically.
3. The 1,000 Calorie Workout is a pretty straight-forward, yet brutal workout. There is no long-term plan or additional days; rather, it's a high-intensity, no-frills workout. It's challenging, but awesome. There are 21 different exercises, so you won't get bored. (I had to look up an embarrassing number of the exercises.) Here are links to tutorials on jump squats, oblique crunches, bird dogs, reverse crunches, plie squats, and butterfly situps.
Unlike most of the other workouts that are around 30 minutes, this took me closer to an hour, and my heart rate settled in the cardio zone. (The hour might be a by-product of my current fitness level, so maybe others could do it in 30-45 minutes). I included this workout because it's a good stand-alone day to integrate into your routine. I'd like to have this land as a once-every-week-or-two workout, maybe following a running day. Plus, I'd like to see what would happen to my overall fitness if I did it once a week for a couple of months. Thousand calorie Thursdays here we come!
4. The Drop 10 Workout is a plan that boasts "repeat daily to drop 10 pounds in just two weeks." While I am skeptical about that outcome, I did like this workout and think it could be a good jump starter. It seems like it'd be ideal to do this workout daily for two weeks and then to keep it on hand to incorporate into a more dimensional workout plan - i.e., maybe do it 1 or 2 days a week on a regular basis. The Drop 10 Workout is 10 exercises that you do back to back. It took me 27 minutes to complete, and my heart rate stayed in the fat burning range the entire time (never peaked into cardio, but also never dropped from fat burning). My biggest criticism of the workout is that it's very heavy on the legs (read: I could barely walk up the stairs the day after my first workout of this), with less focus on arms and abs (although the entire body is incorporated.)
Next time I do it, I will break it down into three sets (i.e., 33 crunches, 30 jumping jacks, 27 lunges, etc.) so that I can do it with no pauses throughout the workout and can achieve a higher intensity, steadier workout. I wouldn't say that I loved it, but it was efficient and effective and there is a lot to be said for that. I have printed out the one-pager and will keep it on file to rotate into my soon-to-be crafted weekly regimen.
5. Fit Found Me 30 Minute Indoor No Equipment Cardio Workout was created by Stephanie at Fit Found Me, a site focused on women over 40. While I am three years and a week away from this grouping, her focus and priorities align well with mine, so I'm adding it to the list (while fiercely maintaining my status as MID-thirties.) Stephanie is focused on overall health, with an acknowledgment that with aging, women in particular need to focus more on strength training to avoid atrophy and a decreased metabolism. Her site has a number of resources and plans, but I have focused solely on the 30 minute home cardio workout (which embeds some strength training.)
A couple of notes before doing this: she highlights the importance of adding a warm up and cool down to the workout, something that I have omitted through many of these, but that is probably very important for all of them. Also, I had to look up how to do "hop overs."
I liked the variety - six different exercises - but also that we repeated all six exercises three times with decreasing reps. It was mentally helpful to get through the longest one first and helped me keep a higher intensity throughout the whole workout. I appreciate the focus that Stephanie brought to strength training (and the why around it), and will keep this front and center of my plans, despite obviously being a long, long way from 40.
6. 2-Week Workout Plan to Lose Inches is an active.come workout that gives you eight workouts to do over the course of two weeks. It's a good jump-starting regimen, but also one that you could integrate into a long-term plan by either repeating or rotating with another couple of plans. For example, two weeks of this one, one week of the Drop 10, one week of The Daily Workout Plan, and then repeat.
A couple of things to note about this plan: there are two days that include outdoor runs. (This is the only workout on the list that can't be done inside). While I'm still anxious about diving back into running, there are specific guidelines and structures for those days that set me up for success. I also like the inclusion of the running days because it helps me as I attempt to start integrating running back into my routine. As an aside, I felt pretty proud of myself by the time that I got to this workout because there was nothing I had to look up - burpee form was well established, Russian twists were old news, and jumping squats were no problem.
This one made my favorites list because of the variety that it has and the structure that it brings to a fitness routine - i.e., print this workout (I hear some of you chuckling, you can pin it if you prefer) and your next two weeks are scheduled with a variety of high-intensity days.
My excuses are out the door, and I am optimistic that these quick, simple, do-anywhere workouts were the jump start that I needed to get exercise (beyond just frantically picking up the house, chasing a toddler, or aggressively scrubbing toilets) back into my daily routine. Up next, my favorite free, youtube fitness channels. Until then, so. much. muscle. confusion.