January is full of the usual clichés of Christmas being a gorge-fest and everyone being left feeling bloated and wobbly. Cue frenzied extreme dieting and intentions to exercise everyday for the rest of your life to get a six-pack. It’s all too much and will leave you looking like our writer who got beaten up by a girl. Let’s take a step back, nay, a lung back, and find a simple way to shift some weight, put on some muscle and keep enjoying life. The key is to cause minimal disruption to your daily life so your body doesn’t notice you dragging it out of the bakery and into the gym.
Get yourself a set of dumbbells – they’re cheaper than a gym membership and are always looking at you, so you can’t avoid them like the gym. We recommend Bowflex SelectTech because you can easily change weights. Less hassle means you’re less likely to quit. But if not these, then any weights will do.
The exercise plan, below, is to complement a diet with no crap (chocolate, cakes, sweets, crisps and anything else that makes you feel guilty – mainly snacking), and a simple lunch of sandwiches, soup or sushi alone. Also plenty of water throughout the day is important. If you need to snack, make sure it’s fruit.
Here’s our simple weekly plan to getting in shape:
It’s the worst day of the week and you might not feel like exercising, so go to work, eat plenty of fruit to keep your sugar levels up, then when you get home – full of guilt for having done no exercise - do this workout:
1/ Find a bar and do 10 chin-ups.
2/ Do 20-50 press-ups depending on what you can manage.
3/ Facing away from your bed with your hands behind you and feet laid out in front, lower yourself into a dip and push back up – repeat 20-30 times.
4/ Lie flat and bench press 20 repetitions of a weight (14-21kg) that leaves you wobbling on the last push.
5/ With a weight in each hand (10-18kg) held under your chin, let it drop and curl back up to work the bicep while the other hand is still holding the weight up. Repeat for the other hand and keep going until you can manage no more. Then slowly let both drop down in a super-slow reverse curl (negative). Repeat the negative curl twice more.
6/ Lie down and do as many sit-ups as you can – making sure to raise your chin to the ceiling and keeping your abs taught the whole time (so, don’t let you back touch down fully the whole time).
7/ Stretch out fully.
8/ Drink a pint of water.
Cycle to work. If you can’t manage that, then walk or run. Failing that, take a long route and walk further than normal. If you can’t do any of these take a long walk at lunch instead. Drink at least a pint of water. Avoid pints of the naughty variety, if you can, all week.
Go for a run either, before work, at lunch, or after work. Either way, make it at least 20 minutes long and try to keep a steady pace that gets you puffing and panting but doesn’t hurt so much that you need to stop. The key is to do it without stopping, even if you need to go really slow. Remember this is about keeping up the exercise for weeks, so don’t make it too hard or you’ll quit - and a little is better than nothing at all. So the girlfriend says anyway.
If you have a sport you play regularly this is the day to do it (or swap this day with one of the other exercises above if it’s a fixed training day). Failing that, go for a swim. If you can’t then use this day to learn you land-lover. Work against the clock aiming to do at least 20 lengths (whatever the stroke, even if it’s varied) in half an hour.
Repeat Monday’s workout regime. Try to do a few more repetitions on each set this time. Eat plenty of fruit and protein throughout the day and drink lots of water.
Do something. Anything. Just make sure your heart rate gets up to a good pace for at least 20 minutes. Go for a run, cycle or swim. Can’t be arsed to leave the house? Do another repetition of the Monday regime, above. If you go out boozing try to steer clear of the beers and stick to vodka cranberry, gin and tonic or neat shorts.
No it’s not a rest day. Because breaking the regime makes it easier to give yourself excuses to miss stuff in future, so just do something gentle because keeping going is the key. A long walk, a big tidy up, gardening, a snowball fight; just be active and physical. Make sure to drink plenty of water and keep snacking on fruit and nuts.
Now just repeat it for a couple of months – even as few as two – and you'll notice a big difference. Stronger limbs, greater appetite, more appreciation of food, a better sex life, elevated mood, and more energy can all be looked forward to. You’ll be turning yourself into a superhero compared to before. Become a superhero or eat a piece of cake? Easy decision.
On a similar sporting note. Want to see our man get balls kicked at him by James Milner?