Extreme exercise programs like P90X, CrossFit and Insanity will without a doubt kick you into the best shape of your life in a very short amount of time -- but only if you stick with their crazy-for-most routines. The majority of people (trainers I've spoken with say something like 9 out of 10) give up on these workouts because they're really intense and require an hour almost every day to do them. We've created a workout that borrows a few of the best ideas from these popular, though extreme, fitness programs, but tailored the workout to be easier for the average person to stick with, and we've plugged it into Fleetly, a group exercising web app and iPhone app, so we can all work towards a shared goal of getting fit. It's equipment-free, it's something anyone can incorporate in their day regardless of their current fitness level, but it's still about incorporating fitness in your life. This is The Lifehacker Workout.
A Workout That's Doable And Well-Rounded
I personally got through about a third of the P90X program before a medical emergency interrupted my progress; all it takes is an interruption, big or small, to feel dissuaded (or use as an excuse to stop), especially when the bar is so high. Honestly, though: I was ready for less pain.
So I turned to personal trainer and fitness competition champion Gillian Mounsey to help develop a more realistic program: One that provides variety, works out your core muscle groups with strength and cardio exercises, and won't make you feel like you're dying 10 minutes into the exercises. Lifehacker member The Other Half (who is an independent Beachbody coach in addition to having many other talents) offered some great insights as well.
Then there's the inclusion of the free group-exercise tool, Fleetly. Exercising in groups helps team members stay motivated and achieve greater fitness goals. Thanks to technology we can all exercise together, in a way, even if we're actually working out on our own in separate homes.
Why This Workout?
The Lifehacker Workout is designed so you won't need any equipment except a deck of cards and, for tracking your walks or runs, a pedometer or app on your smartphone (many running/walking apps have built-in pedometers); Gmaps Pedometer is something you can use to calculate distance before or after your walk too. This means you can do the workout just about anywhere -- and have no excuse to procrastinate. We're starting the workout challenge in the next week or two, in fact. (More on that in a bit.)
Additionally, it's a three-day-a-week program that only takes 30-40 minutes a day. Because we're not doing the one-hour a day, six days a week more demanding P90X regimen, we're working out our whole body every time (Monday, Wednesday and Friday), using good, basic movements that are easy to make more difficult as we progress.
For additional training, we've added an optional fourth day (Sunday) with more targeted workouts that vary each week. For those more intense workouts, however, you'll need some equipment to get the most benefit: resistance bands or dumbbells at least, a pull-up bar and maybe a bench.
To be clear, this workout isn't designed for building mass or getting into "beach body" shape in the quickest time possible. It's designed for normal people, and it's scalable to each person's level, whether you tend to sit at your desk way too long or are more physically active.
Join the Challenge on Fleetly
One of the benefits of this program, of course, is that we're doing it together. We're setting up a group challenge on Fleetly for everyone who wants to join us. Once you log a certain number of workouts for the month, you'll get your special Lifehacker medal. (It's not about the badges, points or other trappings, though, as much as we're all getting it done.)
We'll update and repost this article with a link to the challenge when we're ready to begin (in about a week or two) so you can participate, but you can get started with the Lifehacker Workout, of course, as soon as you want. Like now:
The Lifehacker Workout
Ready? Here's an overview of the schedule. Click on the links below to jump to that day's exercises. You'll be able to see these shared workouts and associated videos on Fleetly too (chosen precisely for its group challenges and sharing of workouts).
A Few More Words Before Getting Started
When beginning any exercise program, remember to take it slow, listen to your body and build it up gradually. Also don't forget to add in some stretching before and after exercising.
Finally, the importance of what you eat when you're training or trying to make a significant difference in your fitness level can't be overemphasised. When upgrading your fitness routine, also don't forget to upgrade your eating and sleep habits as well.
See you all at the virtual gym soon!
Thanks to Gillian and The Other Half for their time and advice developing this plan.
Gillian Mounsey has a B.S in Exercise Science from Hofstra University and has been a personal trainer for over 15 years. When she is not training, coaching or conducting workshops Gillian devotes her time to raising funds and awareness for Hope for the Warriors™ and she also runs her own non-profit initiative, Live Fit America. Her numerous athletic accomplishments include winning first place in the nation in the 1995 United States Marine Corps National Youth Physical Fitness Championship, taking third place in the 2008 CrossFit Games and most recently, in July, taking firsty place in the 69kg weight class of the 2011 Liberty open North Texas Weightlifting Meet.