To establish a workout habit, it’s better to do it:
- With less intensity more often, to develop the routine,
- As close to home as possible, or at home.
The ideal workout frequency
Say you want to go to the gym and get fit. Is it easier to go 3 or 5 times a week?
I would argue that going consistently 5 times will make it stick with a higher probability than 3 times:
- 5 times would be every day with breaks e.g. Wednesday and Sunday
- 3 times would be breaks 4 days and 3 times with gym to fit in the remaining days
In the case of 5 days, the habit is about going to the gym 5 days.
The rest is just a side element, which you would probably use for walking actively.
That would make a daily routine. If you miss one day, you do break the habit.
In the case of 3 days, the habit is about resting 4 days.
To fit the gym time, there would always be an excuse to go another day: “Oh, I just need to stick 3 workouts this week, it does not matter if it is today or tomorrow”.
If you miss one day, it is likely that the habit will crumble and that you never show up again to the gym.
The ideal location
Handling exceptions is key to a solid workout routine
You want to workout at the gym and do weight lifting. You will need weights. What happens if your gym is remote? Will you stick to the routine?
What happens if you travel for work or holidays during a period? Will you stick to the workout routine? Will you have access to the same type of weight and hence exercises?
What happens if you get a family, kids, etc… will you be able to keep the hour of workout in your schedule, and stick to the habit?
Keeping a habit is about handling all the elements that can throw you off tracks. To make a solid routine, you need to make it as easy as possible to stick to the habit, and as hard as possible to disrupt despite the external factors that may affect you.
An offer you can’t refuse
Now let’s imagine a routine that can never be disrupted:
- If you have kids,
- If you travel regularly,
- If you work many hours,
- If you have evening activities that may prevent you from working out after work,
- If you change home and don’t have access to a gym nearby,
- That works without equipment,
- That can work for years without being affected by aging,
- That will not make your muscle mass and weight swing much whether you workout or not for long periods.
I am talking – of course – about bodyweight workout.
What is your excuse not to do, every day, 50 to 200:
- Jump squats,
- Any abs exercise,
You don’t even need to do all of them every day, you can alternate.
You may end up with a 10 minutes workout that yields huge effects in the long run, without taking much of your time.
It is a perfect booting in the morning before the shower, to get your blood flowing and put you in a perfect mood.
A magical bonus: the kettlebell swing
There is a mother to all bodyweight/home. A super complete exercise that makes tremendous results out of little time and effort.
But it is a little exception to the above chapter because you require a little investment and an object that you won’t take with you on vacation.
That is the kettlebell swing, Russian style. Here is how it works:
Doing the kettlebell swings works on large chunks of body muscles going from legs to shoulders.
Aiming for 75 repetitions of a kettlebell between 8 and 24 kg twice a week will be a perfect complement to the other bodyweight workouts.
It will be a tremendous help to create lean muscle mass, or lose weight.
Some context by Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour Body : The Perfect Posterior: Kettlebell Swings and Cheap Alternatives. He explains the benefits, ideal frequency etc.
And a quick lesson on how to learn kettlebell swings:
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