For as long as I can remember, I have been going to the gym twice a week to power through cardio and weight routines. It was a great way to keep in shape, but as I got older, it devolved into a fundamental annoyance with my fellow human beings. (Is it just me, or do people keep getting ruder and ruder?) In the end, I decided to quit the gym and exercise at home.
I dropped the barbells and switched to calisthenics, which opened up a new world of health and fitness. I developed a fresh routine, honed it over several weeks, and managed to restore my peace of mind. It then occurred to me that a workout breakdown would be useful to others in similar situations. And so, lets do just that.
(sings) Come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure attenuation …
In a nutshell, I decided to focus on body weight exercise and outdoor activities. I found a great routine over at Nerd Fitness (my favorite site for healthy living). I also found a great article that outlines the six upper body movements. Using both as templates, I created an at-home routine that maintains proper strength without investing in bulky equipment.
Minimal equipment was a driving force. I had invested in heavy equipment in the past, which always ended up on Craigslist due to shifting interests. This time around, I asked myself, “What is the bare minimum I need without sacrificing quality?” That’s how I discovered the wonderful world of calisthenics. Screw machines, all I needed was a few pieces of basic equipment (chair, weighted bar, resistance bands, and a door frame pull-up bar).
Using the bar and bands, I can do most of what I did in the gym on various machines (rows, curls, overhead press, etc.). From there, I use the pull-up bar for pull-ups (shocking) and the chair for dips. The rest are just simple body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges. Easy breezy. Here’s the full routine, doing 3 sets of 10 reps each:
Horizontal Push (push-ups)
Horizontal Pull (bent rows with bar/bands)
Vertical Push (overhead press with bar/bands)
Vertical Pull (pull-ups/negatives)
Elbow Flex (bicep curls with bar/bands)
Elbow Extension (chair dips)
Squats and Lunges
I like to superset each round (all 8 exercises back-to-back with no breaks), which significantly cuts the time. I do this routine three times a week, usually M-W-F, and can knock it out in less than 30 minutes. And then for cardio, I engage in some sort of outdoor activity several times a week, like a long walk or bike ride.
So far so good, I’m actually enjoying my workout again. There’s a ton of flexibility and I can do anywhere with minimal tweaks. I can definitely see this being a long-haul routine, so maybe I’ll be pushing and pulling well into my golden years.