Zero to 60: How to Go From Couch Potato to Fitness Freak in 2 Months


 

“I’m too busy”.  “I hate the gym”.  “I don’t know what to do”.  And my favorite of all, “I’m too out of shape”. 

 

Excuses end today.

There are a million and one reasons to avoid exercise.  While I can totally sympathize with the fact you guys have work, kids, families, and crazy friends to deal with, none of that means you have to completely sacrifice starting an exercise program.  The problem is, so many of these exercise programs and fitness experts assume you are wiling and able to commit 45-60 minutes to working out, right off the bat.  Expecting someone to go from doing nothing at all to working out 60 minutes, 5 days a week simply isn’t realistic.  You’ve just set someone up for an instant fail. 

 Study after study has shown that slowly incorporating an activity into your life does more for long-term retention than trying to incorporate an activity all at once.  In other words, build up to what you want to see yourself doing rather than trying to force yourself to do it all from the get go.

 

Inflexible inner meathead be gone.

Quick personal aside – my chiropractor says I’m stiff as a board from my years of weight lifting, sprinting, sports, etc.  I’ve never really engaged in any sort of flexibility program, unless you consider bending over to touch my toes between sets a flexibility program (my chiropractor does not).  He (very) enthusiastically recommended yoga.  I’ve taken yoga here and there over the years, but have never developed any sort of regularity.  I’ve decided to heed his advice and incorporate yoga into my overall training plan.  To begin, I’m doing a 30-minute yoga class once a week.  From there, I’ve laid out an entire plan to get myself up to becoming a full master yogi (kidding, sort of) which involves increasing the number of classes I take over a 4 month period.  End goal: Take 3 yoga classes per week. 

 

How It’s Done

Okay, enough about me, back to you.  The way to get yourself from doing nothing to something is simple really.  Each week, I want you to increase the amount of time spent exercising.  Since lack of time is the overwhelming reason people forgo fitness, we’ve made our focus on targeting this variable.  I told you I’d get you from 0 minutes a day to a full 60 minutes in two months right?  Good, you’ve been paying attention..keep it up, because this is how it’s going to work…

  • Week 1: 5 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 2: 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 3: 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 4: 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 5: 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 6: 40 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 7: 50 minutes a day, 3 days a week
  • Week 8: 60 minutes a day, 3 days a week

Each week you’re going to add a few more minutes of exercise to your workout.  Going from 5 to 10 isn’t going to seem like much.  Going from 10 to 15 will be a piece of cake.  After a month, going from 20 to 30 minutes by adding 10 measly minutes to your routine won’t seem like a big deal at all.  You see, your brain (and body) gets accustomed to this new activity and finding the additional 5-10 minutes each week seems like SO much less of a burden.

Great. But I already told you I don’t know what to do…aren’t you listening to me!?!?

Take it easy, I’ve been listening.  I’m getting to the “I don’t know what to do” part right now.  Not only are we going to increase the time of exercise each week, we’re going to slightly increase the difficulty.  This way, you won’t be tasked with figuring out how to walk up a flight of stairs without bending your legs due to extreme muscle soreness.  If you’re into serious muscle soreness from a killer workout (like I am) forget this advice and just with our treadmill interval workout.

  • Week 1 – 20 push ups (from your knees is okay), 20 crunches, 20 second plank, rest 30 seconds.  Repeat 3 times total.
  • Week 2 – 20 push ups (on your knees still okay), 25 V-sits, 30 second plank, 45 second jump rope, rest 30 seconds.  Repeat 3 times total
  • Week 3 – 50 body weight squats, 20 Russian Twists (with or without weighted object), 45 second jump rope, 15 plank ups, 20 squat jumps.  Repeat 3 times total.
  • Week 4 – 10 up/down planks, 20 speed skaters (with or without a weighted object), 30 crunches, 40 mountain climbers, 50 line jumps, rest 1 minute. Repeat 3 times total. 

The first month is spent building your endurance and working on the all important stabilizing muscles in your core.  Also, everything we’ve done to this point requires NO GYM, and is accomplished with just your own body weight.  In the second month, we’re going to begin incorporating some weights into what we do.  This doesn’t mean you need a gym, it just means you may need to pick up a cheap set of dumbbells.

  • Week 5 – 10 burpees, 10 spider curls, 10 bent over dumbbell rows, 10 spider planks, 12 dumbbell chest presses, rest 30 seconds.  Repeat 3 more times.  That’s circuit 1..For circuit 2.. 20 deadbugs, 20 (10 per side) stiff lunges, 45 second jump rope, 20 squat twists, 12 dumbbell military presses, repeat 3 more times.
  • Week 6 – Your endurance should definitely be increasing by this point…you’re ready for some outdoor cardio..20 minutes HIIT running (30 second sprint/1:30 second jog).  Follow this with a cardio Circuit:  30 bear crawls, 30 mountain climbers, 20 burpees, rest 1 minute.  Repeat the cardio circuit two times total. 
  • Week 7 – 25 minutes HIIT running (30/1:30 format).  3 sets of 12 dumbbell lateral raises, 3 sets of 12 21’s, 3 sets of 10 plank rows, 2 set of 30 crunches, 1 set of 50 bodyweight squats.  Keep about 30 seconds between each set. 
  • Week 8 – The INTENSE at Home Fast Blast Workout.  Again, perform three days a week.  You pick whether you want to do the M/W/F workout, T/TH workout, or a combo of both.

At this point, you’ve gotten yourself up to working out 60 minutes a day.  From here, it’s up to you to maintain what you’ve been doing and/or add additional days of exercise.  Working up to 5 total days should be a long-term goal.

 

A final challenge..

You didn’t think I really posted that brutal treadmill workout for no reason, did you?  After 8 weeks or so, it’s time to take a test.  I want you to go back, get yourself on a treadmill, and put yourself to a test.  There is absolutely no way you could have done this two months ago, but give it a try now and see how far you make it.  If you can make it through that entire routine, you are an absolute fitness beast, because that workout has been known to make grown men cry. If you still can’t get all the way though, no worries, just use that as motivation to keep yourself working hard and consistently.

To recap:

  • Start slow, build your way up.  Incrementally increase the time spent exercising.  This is the best way to get yourself from non-exerciser to full on fitness junkie.
  • To maximize your time, use full body, cardio/weight combo routines to burn fat, build muscle, and boost metabolism.
  • Use harder workouts, races, or other fitness tests as challenges to keep you motivating and working towards a goal.

For those of you who are full on fitness junkies, what did it take to get you to the level you’re at now?  For those of you still working your way up, what are some of the biggest obstacles you continue to face?

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Zero to 60: How to Go From Couch Potato to Fitness Freak in 2 Months”

  1. Any chance you have a video or description of the V-sits for week 2? YouTube videos vary on how they’re executed.

  2. I weigh 350. I can do the knee push-ups. I CANNOT do sit-ups or crunches. My stomach is simply too big. I can do planks. I feel like a fat failure. I’m 47. I did weigh 410. So I’ve done good there.

  3. Just what I was looking for: a realistic approach to getting my butt of the couch and starting a fitness scheme. Thanks Matt!

    1. I can barely lift myself out of a pool, much less a push up. This workout helps. I found the main thing is to do as much as you can. So if you can’t do 20, try for 10, can’t do 10, try for 5, etc. The biggest thing is to just get moving and trying to do all this. Don’t let the fact that you can’t deter you from starting, that’s not what this is for 🙂 Best of Luck!

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