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2 Hours per Week to Fitness for Life

Practicing compound movements mindfully is super-efficient.

Source: Photo copyrights owned by Nootralize
Source: Photo copyrights owned by Nootralize

Why is it so hard to get fit?

It takes time and energy.

This is not an article about getting fit before next summer in six minutes per day.

This is an article that will help you efficiently and sustainably become more fit.

This is not for the professional athlete.

This is for the person who wants to spend as little time and energy as possible on his or her exercise regimen.

This exercise regimen can be used for your entire life, and the results will never cease to come.

This regimen is what I currently practice after several years of self-experimentation and learning from knowledgeable coaches. It aims to efficiently produce cardiovascular, strength, and muscle gains.

Principles to keep in mind

1. Listening to Your Body

Mindfully lifting or running is key to long-term results and injury prevention. If you feel the wrong sort of pain, stop.

The wrong sort of pain is that which is not produced by your body as a result of challenging yourself while exercising with great technique.

2. Quality Over Quantity

These exercises can, if done with the right technique, be extremely effective.

You’re not going to get the best long-term results by pushing yourself beyond your limit every session.

You’re going to get the best long-term results by practicing the right technique and challenging yourself only in the final sets of a workout.

3. Technique Practice and Prioritization

Prioritizing technique means de-prioritizing the number of kilos you’re lifting or reps you pull-up.

If you’re not doing a repetition with great technique, you’re not doing a repetition.

This is imperative for long-term results and injury prevention.

4. NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis

The more you move in your daily life, the better. This is not part of the regimen because it’s not an efficient form of exercise. But increasing NEAT is a good way of improving your fitness results without having to put on exercise equipment, and it can often be combined with other activities, such as talking to people or listening to audiobooks.

My favorite form of NEAT is walking. Walking promotes muscle recovery and general health.

Walking can also aid digestion, which is why I go on a stroll for around 15 minutes after dinner every day.

5. Proper Rest and Scheduling

In order to challenge yourself while practicing the right technique, you will need to be well-rested.

In order to be well-rested, you need to schedule rest days and alternate which muscle groups you train on consecutive days.

I suggest that you do more NEAT on rest days than on exercise days.

The regimen

The exercise technique is best-learned in-person or via video. I suggest that you search on YouTube for "<Insert exercise> technique tutorial" and watch a couple of videos per exercise.

Deadlifts

Lifting a barbell from the ground.

Bench Press

Pressing a bar from your chest while lying on a bench.

Pullups

Hanging from a bar and pulling your body up until your head is above the bar.

Squats

Sitting down and standing up, without a chair.

HIIT—High-Intensity Interval Training

Running, biking, or rowing like a madman for less than a minute.

That’s it.

Five exercises, if practiced mindfully, are all you will ever need to become and stay fit for life!

Schedule

Note: Always adjust the weight to preserve great technique, but also to challenge yourself only in the last set of any exercise.

Always rest for two minutes between sets.

Day 1: (~45 min)

  • Squats (four sets, four reps.)
  • Pullups (four sets.)
  • HIIT (four sets, 30-second sprints.)

Day 2: (0 min)

  • Rest (NEAT)

Day 3: (~45 min)

  • Deadlifts (four sets, four reps.)
  • Bench Press (four sets, four reps.)

Day 4: (0 min)

  • Rest (NEAT)

Then repeat, forever.

But… what about warm-up? (~15 minutes/session)

Warm-up is great for injury prevention and physical performance.

In my experience, the more NEAT you do, the less warm-up you will need. Sleep and good nutrition will also help you reduce the need for warming up.

Listen to your body. Do you feel ready-to-go?

With so much rest, you will probably feel excited about working out after a couple of weeks of this regimen.

Doing the exercises with perfect technique and very little weight is what the warm-up consists of.

Let’s say you’re on day one and know you can lift the barbell (20 kg) + 60 kg = 80 kg for four reps and four sets. You haven’t done the NEAT you intended to, and your sleep was a bit off last night as well; you’re stiff.

You start with 10 air-squats, then 30 seconds later, move on to 10 squats with the barbell on your back. You are starting to get excited but rest for one minute and lift another 10 reps with 20 kg added to the 20kg bar. Your squat warm-up was performed (~five minutes) with great technique, you listened to your body, and you’re ready to start your 4x4 80 kg “working sets.”

You may need to warm-up more or less than this, and maybe again for every new muscle group and exercise. Mindfully listen to your body’s signals (pain, stiffness, energy, technique accuracy), and make a decision if today is a challenge-yourself day or maintenance day.

How I use this regimen in my life

I love to exercise, but I want to do it as efficiently as possible.

I use this regimen exactly as I’ve written above. The principles behind it entail a certain degree of flexibility, which I like. I can push myself physically when circumstances allow and focus on other areas of my life when I feel it’s more appropriate.

Because it's so simple, I believe you can do the same.

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