It’s been several years since I decided to leave the gym and refocus on calisthenics. I wrote several posts about the subject, which you can revisit at the bottom of this one. It ended up being a good decision in the wake of a global pandemic. So as we continue to revamp our daily lives, I thought it might be useful to amend my fitness routine.
I am still working out at home every week, but my schedule and program has changed a bit. The biggest differences are (1) I have scaled back to two days instead of three, and (2) I have retired some exercises due to redundancy and safety concerns. Basically, I have narrowed it down to a super simple maintenance routine.
Two days a week is all I need.
Many studies have shown that maintenance is the easy part (here and here for example). In other words, once your gains are met, it’s pretty easy to keep them. Thus, I decided to shave off a day for personal comfort. I’m not out to build strength anymore and I haven’t seen any decline over the last year, so it seems to be working. My preferred days are Tues and Thurs, which gives me a day off in between to recover.
Some exercises were starting to hurt.
I decided to abandon two exercises in particular: the military press and lunges. They are great exercises, don’t get me wrong, but they began to take a negative toll on my body. My form was good, but the movements started to exacerbate existing injuries. The lunges in particular were inflaming some old knee issues.
Some exercises were redundant.
I also decided to focus on compound exercises and ignore everything else. This was mostly due to the fact that I was doubling-up some muscle burden. Not a bad thing, but redundant when going for a more balanced approach. For example, I would do curls in addition to pull ups (hammer grip), which overworked my biceps.
So what am I doing now?
Compounds all the way (pull ups, push ups, and squats, oh my). I can get a full-body workout with a handful of exercises. I still superset everything, i.e. burn through the entire lot without stopping. I complete three sets with short rests in between.
Here’s the breakdown:
10 pull ups (hammer grip)
10 push ups (standard)
10 squats (standard)
10 push ups (wide stance)
10 squats (wide stance)
That’s it. 150 reps, done in 20 mins. It’s a simple and effective maintenance routine that I can knock out during a lunch break. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a solid baseline that I have tweaked and polished over the last several years. I also walk a couple miles every day, which keeps the joints healthy.
My 40’s self has decided that plain and predictable is the way to go. Forever gone are the days of barbells and sweaty gym mats. These days, I would rather treat my workout like a mindless house chore (read: something I can do in my underwear while the cats watch).