It is March now and we are fast approaching swim suit season. Are you dreading going to the pool and exposing yourself to friends and family? Even worse, do you simply no longer care at all? Most of us aren’t in the shape we want to be in and if this doesn’t apply to you, don’t worry about it. If like most of us, you have some things you want to improve and are struggling with motivation or keep coming up with excuses then this post is for you.
I am not a spring chicken anymore but I am nowhere near over the hill. I have a lot of life left in me and I want to make the most of it. I have known for some time that I needed to exercise more and truthfully, I am not a couch potato; don’t really watch TV at all. I am fairly sedentary with my work though so I need to exercise as much as possible to offset the hours of sitting and staring at a computer. I eat relatively well, lots of fresh foods and not too much junk, but I do like my desserts. That combined with my inactivity had given me a little extra weight I needed to get rid of and if you have any thoughts about being in the best shape to run or fight or perform a lot of manual work like we could expect in a SHTF scenario you don’t want to be unprepared. Isn’t that what we are always talking about on Final Prepper?
It isn’t the weight so much as strength. In my life I have always struggled a little with weight although I have never obsessed to the point of actually being the weight I wanted to be. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a six pack. Well, on my stomach that is… In more times than I can imagine I have dieted and gone to the gym and had periods where I slimmed down and others where I bulked up. Not with muscle so much either, unless you are talking table muscle. Each time I would find some motivation and I would get back at it and make decent progress for a while, but that perfect body in my mind never matched what was in the mirror. Genetics and laziness had it in for me.
Recently, I decided to get back on the horse again for two reasons. The first is that I seriously wanted to be in shape. The second is my daughter wanted to run the Warrior Dash with me. I accepted and that was all the motivation I needed to start working out again. Running a 5K isn’t too bad at all but you add some obstacles in there and things get interesting. There are no shortage of people who aren’t in the best shape that get out there too, but I wanted to push myself to be better and stronger than I was last time.
Before I started my workout this time though I tried to set different goals for myself. Instead of imagining myself with a trimmed, cut physique you see in magazines, I imagined myself as simply being strong. I decided that I could really live with 10 extra pounds as long as I could physically lift more or have longer stamina for the tasks I needed to do. Instead of looking in the mirror and taking selfies like so many people I was just going to focus on getting stronger. I would leave the skinny and obsession about appearances for someone else.
My goals were simpler in my opinion. I wanted to be able to run 3 miles easily, do 100 push ups , 200 sit-ups and 10 pull-ups each day. If I could do that I reasoned I would be in pretty darn good shape considering everything else. Why did I pick these and not something like being able to bench-press 400lbs? Well, one of the prerequisites of this goal was that I didn’t want to have to rely on the gym or anyone else for my fitness. I have had several gym memberships and for me I think they were a waste. If you can’t lift your own weight, why go to the gym and get on a machine? I can run on the streets where I live for free. Pushups, sit-ups and pull-ups are all free too, I just needed a pull-up bar which I already had.
Even though I didn’t want to go to the gym, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have some help. I wanted to see what free fitness apps were available that could help me with my workout program and I found and use the following:
Running is something that I used to do fairly regularly. Actually, this is my 3rd 5K which I know is no Boston Marathon, but it’s enough for me to be able to get out and run 3 miles easily. I don’t need to do any more than that. When I first started running again I had been inactive for a pretty good while except the daily walks I mentioned so I wanted an app that would ramp me back up to a 5K. I found the 5K Runner program and really loved it. You start out very slow and each day, the program will guide you to run a little more until you are finally running a 5K. You can play your own playlists or listen to music while you run and the 5K runner will tell you exactly when to run and when to slow down and walk. All you need to provide is the place to run and to get your butt out there and do it.
Pushups for me were a nightly routine that I would do more or less each night unless I forgot or was tired. My routine was anything but and I wanted something that could coach me to more push ups. I would crank out 20 or 30 and call it quits, but I found Pushups 0-100. This app is great and similar to the 5K Runner app, it starts you out slow and daily builds the number of push ups you are doing. Each day you perform 5 sets. The middle set has the most push ups and the last set is hard to complete. You get badges when you reach different levels, but one cool thing is that not only does it tell you how many push ups you do each day, but it keeps a running count of all your push ups to date. Its pretty cool when you see the total go over 1000 push ups. The whole program takes just 10 weeks and at the end you will be doing 5 sets of 20 for 100 push ups.
Situps was the next app and wouldn’t you know the makers of the Pushup app had a free app for sit-ups too! Situps 0-200 follows the exact same principle as the push ups where you start out gradually through 6 sets of varying reps until you finish week 10 by doing 8 sets of 25 sit-ups for a grand total of 200 sit-up’s. You get badges along the way to motivate you and the app keeps track of how many sit-ups you have done and lets you know automatically how much time to rest and prompts you when it is time to do another set. I just lay this in the floor next to me, crank out my sit-ups and press “did it” when I have finished. Sit-ups will let me know how long to rest and then ping when it is time to crank out some more. Even if you have another app open, the timer still works and you are alerted.
Another app I use to strengthen my core is one called 30 days. This app has a little different approach to progressing you through work-outs and offers a lot of additional exercises in one app. I got this primarily to work on Planks. For those that don’t know Planks are reported by some to be better than sit-ups at strengthening a larger set of muscles and it looks easier. What you don’t realize at first is how hard it can be holding a plank position for a minute or two or over three. 30 Days lets you select your exercise and you can add multiples to your plan. Once selected, 30 Days gets you to do as many of that exercise as possible. For me and the Plank it was to hold the plank position for as long as I could. 30 days times you and when you are finished, 30 Days takes your time and figures out a workout plan for you based upon that time.
Lastly for the legs I have another app for squats made by the same people who brought you push ups and sit-ups above. Same concept and same execution. Squats 0-100 gives you a set number of reps and sets and builds on that until you are stronger. And there are others out there if you want to bump your workouts to the next level. There are push ups and sit-ups extreme versions that cost $1.99 each but increase the reps and intensity. Why squats? This is another exercise that uses your own body weight and will strengthen you without machines. This plus running and even the planks will increase strength and stamina.
No Magic Pill
No, these apps are not magic and you could do all these exercises without any app at all I know. You have to motivate yourself to get up and push yourself to not only exercise, but complete each of these plans. What will that give you? It will give you more energy and strength. Will it make you look like Kim Kardashian? Nope, but it will get you in shape. Being in shape, able to lift your own body weight and last all day through grueling work is what is important. Selfies from the gym aren’t.
Do you have any favorite apps or exercises you use?