It’s easy to talk yourself out of exercising. Even when you have the best intentions to work out, excuses are so easy to find — “I’m too tired,” or “I’m busy,” or “The weather is bad.”

The right attitude and a few tricks can keep your fitness routine on track. Use these tips to stay in the game:

1. Do it for yourself. Studies show that people who are “externally motivated” — that is, they hit the gym just to look good at your class reunion — don’t stick with it. Those who are “internally motivated” — meaning they exercise because they love it — are the ones who stay in it for the long run.

2. Take baby steps. You would never try to run 10 miles on day one, right? When you do too much too soon, you’ll end up sore, injured, and discouraged. Take it easy as you get started. Maybe you only run a quarter of a mile your first week. When that becomes easy, you can make it more challenging.

3. Hang tough. No one has perfect form the first day of strength training. Every workout takes practice. You’ll get the hang of it if you keep making an effort.

4. Mix it up. Do different types of workouts to keep things interesting and to exercise different muscle groups. If the elliptical machine is usually your thing, hop on the stair climber for some cardio instead. Also, switch between machines and free weights when you strength-train. You don’t have to reinvent your entire routine every week, but you do want to shift it around a little.

5. Don’t be your own drill sergeant. Half of all people who start a new exercise program ditch it within the first year. It often happens because they can’t keep up the boot-camp pace they’ve forced on themselves. It’s better to work within your limits, and gradually get stronger.

6. Bring a friend. When your inner demons order you to hit the couch instead of the treadmill, a workout partner can steer you back in the right direction. It’s easier to bail out on the gym than on the friend who waits for you there. Studies show you’ll also work out longer when you have a pal along.

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Is It Bad to Do the Same Workout Every Day?

“Repeating workouts is not an inherently bad idea, especially if you enjoy what you’re doing,” Stull explains. And research shows that enjoyment is one of the main reasons people stick to a workout. Once people find an exercise they love-running, rowing, or swimming-they’ll be hard-pressed to skip a few sessions for the sake of “switching it up.” (Just ask any runner why they never miss a daily jog.) Plus, some repetition is necessary to acquire new skills. “If you have a goal of becoming better at something, then you must repeat it,” Stull adds. After all, no one’s going to attempt a marathon without doing some long runs before (we hope).

The only problem: The human body is a master at adaptation. “Whatever the body is asked to repeat, it will become very efficient at it,” Stull explains. “After a few months, you may continue to feel the psychological benefits, but not necessarily the physiological benefits.” Translation: What was once a great calorie-burning workout may become no better than the average walk, Stull says.

Change it up: To prevent plateauing and continue improving your endurance, mix up your cardio so you’re not doing the same exact workout every day. The simplest way to do this: Follow the F.I.T.T. principle (which stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type), suggests Jacqueline Crockford, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. Implement one of the following steps per week.

First, increase the frequency of your workout. For example, if you’ve been cycling three days a week, bump that up to four times a week (make sure you allow for one full day of rest each week too). Then increase the time-or duration-of your session. If you’ve been exercising for 30 minutes, add on five or 10 minutes. (Pressed for time? Learn how to Make Your Cardio Workouts Harder (Not Longer).)

Next, increase the intensity, which can be measured most accurately by heart rate. If you’ve been working at 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR), for example, increase it to 75 percent. A heart rate monitor will come in handy here, but you can also determine your target heart rate with a little bit of math:

1. Subtract your age from 220 to find your MHR. (If you’re 30 years old, your MHR is 190.)

2. Multiply that number by 0.7 (70 percent) to determine the lower end of your target zone. Then multiply by 0.85 (85 percent) to determine the upper end of your target zone.

3. To determine your beats per minute (BPM) during exercise, take your pulse inside your wrist, near your thumb. Use the tips of your first two fingers to press lightly over the blood vessels. Count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by six to find your beats per minute (BPM). If your beats match the 70-percent mark, adjust your exercise intensity to reach that upper end of your target zone.

Finally, try switching up your usual cardio of choice with a different type of movement. (Like these 5 Plyo Moves to Sub for Cardio (Sometimes!).)This helps to strengthen different muscle groups, improve endurance, and eliminate the risk of overuse and eventual injury, Stull says. For example, instead of cycling, try running, swimming, or something that changes the motion completely, like dance cardio, once a week.

Can You Do the Same Strength Workout Every Day?

Strength training devotees are known for following a set routine each time they enter the weight room. Here’s some good news for those creatures of habit: Strength routines need to be repeated for a period of time in order to be effective, Stull says. In fact, if you’re just starting a new routine, there are major benefits in doing the same thing consistently, says Darryn Willoughby, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and professor at Baylor University. That’s because in the first four to six weeks, the improvements you’ll experience are mainly neurological-your brain is learning how to most efficiently recruit your muscles to complete the moves. (However, that doesn’t mean you should be doing the same workout every day. Check out this perfectly balanced week of workouts for programming guidelines.)

The bad part: This doesn’t translate into increased muscle size (yet). “A good general time frame to expect noticeable progress is 12 to 16 weeks, but it varies by person and intensity of training,” Willoughby adds. That’s why you don’t want to give up a month into a new strength training program just because you’re not seeing “results” in the mirror. If you’re starting a new program, commit to that 12-week time frame. But after that, as your body adapts to the routine, you’ll need to vary your program in order to continue to reap the benefits and keep seeing results, Willoughby says.

Change it up: First, switch your strength moves. “The intensity and volume of training must be repeated to develop strength, but the exercise selection can be varied,” explains Stull. “For example, you can increase lower body strength by squatting, deadlifting, or doing a leg press,” Stull says. “All will require the muscles to work in a very similar way, but will be very different to the nervous system.” What that means: don’t do the same exact strength workout every day.

Willoughby agrees. Although there are plenty of moves to work the chest muscles-from push-ups to the bench press-that doesn’t mean any move is better than the other. In fact, it’s probably a better strategy to change up the exercises on regular basis so you work the muscles at a slightly different angle, which helps improve muscle adaptation (and growth) over time. (Want stronger abs? Switch your crunches for 9 Core Exercises That Get You Closer to Six-Pack Abs.)

A final way to can change up your strength workout: a type of programming called non-linear periodization, repeating the same exercises but varying the intensity (amount of weight used) and the volume (reps and sets), Stull says. For example, if you’re training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you could make Monday a heavy day with less volume, Wednesday a moderate day with moderate weight and volume, and Friday a light day with a higher volume. Studies suggest this is a great way to increase strength has been shown to be more beneficial than performing the exact same routine over and over again. (We have an awesome 4-Week Weight Training Plan for Women to get you started.)

  • By Brooke Blue

You lead busy a life, and finding time to stay healthy is tough. Fortunately, all you need is 20 minutes of exercise per day to get fit. If you don’t have the time to go to the gym every day, here’s how you can get in shape quickly from just about anywhere—little-to-no equipment required.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This post currently uses code that was broken in an update. It does not work. We are looking at ways to fix it, but in the meantime we recommend this app.

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We’ve consulted with trainers and fitness experts to put together a plan that keeps you active every day, helps you grow stronger, and varies from day to day so you don’t get bored. It only requires 20 minutes of your time, and each workout concentrates on a different muscle group so you’re not overworking any part of your body. We’ve even built a little mini-app into this article to randomly generate a new workout routine for each day to keep your workouts fresh.

Exercising every day may also seem a bit daunting, but because the time commitment is so small it’ll be a lot easier than you think. A daily routine also comes with the benefit of starting a good habit, and that will make it easier to continue your exercise routine as time goes on.

First, let’s take a look at what a week will generally look like. After that, you’ll be able to generate different types of workouts based on muscle groups to come up with your own plan. So, without further ado, let’s get started.

A Sample Week

You can organize your workouts into any combination you like. If you’d prefer to concentrate more on your core than your upper body, you can do more core-based exercises each week. If you prefer a higher concentration in another area, you can do that as well. Assemble the workouts into a routine that works well for you. If you’re not sure what you want, you can use this schedule to get a good balance:

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  • Monday: Upper Body
  • Tuesday: Core
  • Wednesday: Lower Body
  • Thursday: Upper Body
  • Friday: Core
  • Saturday: Lower Body
  • Sunday: Relaxation

Each set of exercises you’ll do in a given day target your chosen muscle group and incorporate cardio as well. The goal is to keep moving with very short breaks for the full 20 minutes. This will keep your heart rate up while you’re doing exercises like pushups, which aren’t designated as cardio exercises. In many cases you’ll also get cardio-specific exercises like interval sprints to pair with the work you’re doing on your arms, legs, and core. Some exercises will take on both at the same time naturally, and some routines will incorporate a little bit of everything so you’re not completely ignoring any muscle group. If you’re ready to get started, move on to the next section and generate your first workout.

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Generate a New 20-Minute Workout

Ready to exercise? Just click any of the following four buttons to generate the type of workout you want. Each time you click you’ll get a combination that’s a little bit different. Each set will be pretty concise. If you need help learning each exercise, just click the link by each routine called “How do I do this?” That will expand the routine to include detailed information on how to perform each exercise in it, plus video demonstrations so you can see how it all works. Go ahead and give it a shot:

Upper body workout Lower body workout Core workout Relaxation plan

Click the button above!

Pushups and Dips

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Your goal is to perform 50 pushups and 50 dips in a total of six sets:

  • 20 pushups
  • 20 dips
  • 15 pushups
  • 15 dips
  • 15+ pushups
  • 15+ dips

You can take a 15 second break between each set, but avoid breaks if you don’t need them. On the last sets of pushups and dips, go beyond 15 if you can. If you find that performing 50 of each is too easy for you, add five to the first set of each. If it’s too hard, subtract 5 from the first set (or from each set, if necessary).

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These exercises are pretty simple, but it’s easy to do them with improper form. Watch this dip instruction video and this pushup instruction video for pointers on each exercise.

Upper Body Towel Exercises

Despite the hyperbole surrounding this set of exercises, it’s actually very effective at building a stronger upper body. Better yet, you only need yourself and a small towel (or a shirt). You can watch the video for a demonstration, or view a rundown of each exercise.

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  • Warm up – Do 30 seconds of jumping jacks and 30 seconds of running in place, bringing your knee to waist height. (You can keep your hands at waist height so your legs touch them with each lift so you know you’re lifting high enough.)
  • Alternating Pushups – Get yourself in proper pushup form but put one hand a little farther forward and one hand a little farther back. After each pushup, alternate the positions of your hands.
  • Standing Towel Pull Up – Grab your towel, stand up, and bend your knees, squatting slightly. Put the towel above your head and pull tightly on both ends of it. Keeping a tight grip, slowly pull down and bring the towel to your collarbone, then raise it back up again. Repeat this action until 30 seconds is up.
  • In and Out Pushups – Much like the alternating pushups, you’ll be doing as many as you can in the 30 second allotment and moving your hands with each pushup. This time, however, you’ll spread your hands wide for one pushup, then bring them closer together for the next. Continue alternating between these positions until the 30 seconds is up.
  • Bent Over Towel Front Raise – Get into a bent over squatting position like you did for the previous towel exercise, but this time you’ll be starting by holding the towel tight at your knees. Raise the towel all the way up as high as you can go and bring it back down, keeping it tight. Take your time. Speed is not the goal here. Continue moving the towel up and down until the 30 seconds have passed.
  • Half Burpee Pushups – Get into pushup position and perform a regular pushup, but when you finish jump forward with your legs like you’re about to get back up. Then move your legs back into pushup position and perform this action repeatedly until the 30 seconds are up. If you’re not sure how to do this exercise, either watch the video for a demonstration or check this out.
  • Floor Swimmers – Lay down on the floor on your stomach. For 30 seconds, perform the breaststroke on the floor, lifting your shoulders up as you bring your arms in.
  • Towel Snatches – Get in the same position as you were for the bent over towel front raise. This exercise is very similar, but the goal is to perform it quickly. Start in that bent over position, holding your towel tight, then throw your arms up quickly and bring yourself into a standing position. Bring yourself back down to the starting point and repeat this exercise for 30 seconds.
  • Prayers – Get into squat position and hold your hands together hold your hands together like you’re praying. Use your strength to push your hands together. You should feel this in your chest. Move your hands outward, together, like you’re striking someone or something with your finger tips. Don’t worry about making the movement too quickly. The important thing is that you continue pushing your hands together at the same time. Once out, bring your hands back in and repeat this motion for 30 seconds.

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All of this should take you about 7-8 minutes total. You should spend 30 seconds on each exercise in the list with a 15 second break in between (with the exception of the warm up exercises, which should be done consecutively without interruption.) This routine was designed to be repeated three times in a row, so if you wanted to repeat it three times to get your full 20 minutes you could do that. Alternatively, you can perform it once and combine it with the other exercises on your list.

Dynamic Cycle A

Roger Lawson: “Set your timer for 10 minutes and cycle through each exercise described below for the prescribed number of repetitions (reps), aiming to complete as many cycles as possible within the time limit. Rest only as much as you need to between each exercise and cycles.”

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  • Double Leg Hip Thrust (10 reps) – Put your shoulders on one bench and your feet on another so the rest of your body is suspended in between. Thrust your hips up high, keeping your shoulders and feet on the bench, then come back down. You can also do this with your back on the ground. (Video)
  • Mountain Climbers (30 seconds) – Get into peaked pushup position and put one leg forward, then shuttle your legs back and forth until time is up. (Video)
  • Feet Elevated Pushups (5 to 10 reps) – This exercise is also know as a decline pushup. Place your hands on the floor and your feet higher up on a bench or chair. In this position, perform pushups as normal. (Video)
  • Dynamic Planks (10 reps) – Start in pushup position, then lower yourself into plank position (so you’re resting on your forearms) and bring yourself back up again. (Video)

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If you find that you can’t do as many reps as recommended, scale it back to whatever you can do at that moment. Also, if you can do more reps, challenge yourself and go for it as long as your form remains respectable.

Interval Sprints

Interval training is, essentially, the basis of every

  • Jog for two minutes to warm up.
  • Sprint as fast as you can for 40 seconds, then jog for 20 seconds as rest. Repeat six times.
  • Jog for two minutes to cool down.

If you need a greater challenge, add wrist weights.

Fartlek (Speed Play)

Take a moment to laugh at the name and then get ready for Fartlek to kick your butt. It’s a type of interval training where you pick a set distance and vary your speed as you run it. There are many ways you can break the distance down, but here’s one example:

  • Jog the first 10% of the distance at a leisurely pace to warm up.
  • Sprint the next 20% of the distance as fast as you can.
  • Jog at faster pace than when you started for 10% of the distance.
  • Increase your speed to a run for 30% of the distance.
  • Sprint as fast as you can for 10% of the distance.
  • Finish the remaining 20% at a jogging pace, slowing down as your heart rate drops.

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You can incorporate Fartlek anywhere you can run, but it’s easiest on a track because it is simple to figure out how far you’ve gone. If you can run a mile in about nine minutes, starting with a distance of about half a mile is good. If that’s too easy, you can go farther. If that’s too hard, start with a quarter mile instead.

Body Dips and Towel Flys

Your goal is to perform three sets of 5-8 dips and three sets of 8-10 towel flys. That may not seem like much, but these exercises can be very difficult. You want to alternate between each exercise and take no breaks between them. The goal is to keep moving. How do I do this?

Dips are most easily performed on a machine because it can be hard to find a place in your home to do them. If you have two sturdy tables or chairs, or even closely arranged countertops, you can put them next to each other and dip in between them, but be very sure they can support you or you can hurt yourself. It’s better to use a dip machine which you can find at virtually any gym or pic. Fitness site Live Strong explains how to perform a proper dip (using a dip bar):

Chest dips work the pecs as well as the triceps, and they require a dipping machine. Place your feet on the lower supports and grasp the parallel bars with your hands. Keeping your abs tight and back straight, remove each foot and hold yourself in the air with your arms fully extended. You might find it easier to balance your body at this point by bending your knees and crossing your legs. Lean forward slightly and lower yourself down by bending your elbows. Once your upper arms parallel the floor, push yourself back up and repeat.

Towel flys look pretty easy, but they actually require a lot of strength. Basically, grab two small towels, hand cloths, or t-shirts and a smooth surface. (A wood floor is best.) Get into pushup position with your towels underneath your hands. Now, slide your hands outwards and bring them back together. As simple as the motion is, it can be very easy to go out too far or not far enough. Watch the video to the left for a demo so you can make sure you’re doing it correctly.

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Interval Squats

Squats are another simple exercise you can do just about anywhere, but poor form can make them far less effective. If you need some guidance on squatting properly, check out the video to your left. Your goal in this exercise is to perform squats for one minute, take a 20 second break, and then repeat three more times. When you finish the fourth set of squats, you’ll be at five minutes and you can take a 30 second break before moving onto the next exercise in your day’s routine (if there is one). Don’t worry about the number of squats you do, but instead concentrate on doing them correctly. If this is too easy for you, skip a break or take on an extra set. If this is too hard, go slowly and take your time. Increase your breaks to 30 seconds if you need to.

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Step Ups and Stair Climbs

For these exercises, you’ll need a couple of things. Let’s start with the step ups. First you’ll need a bench of some kind. You can use on in the park, in your home, or at the gym. For a greater challenge, you’ll want weight you can add to each hand so it’s even on both sides. Dumbbells work well, but you could also hold two large bottles/jugs of water if you don’t have any. All you do in this exercise is place one foot on the bench and the other on the ground, then step up onto the bench and back down again. You want to use the muscles in your leg on the bench to push you upwards and avoid helping yourself up with the foot on the ground. Watch the video to your left for a demonstration. Perform three sets of 15 steps on each side, taking only a short break of 20-30 seconds in between each set. Do not take a break when alternating legs.

Stair climbs are another simple exercise. All you do is run up the stairs as quickly as you can, then bring yourself back down again and repeat. Be sure to do this careful so you don’t trip. You can skips stairs for an added challenge. Go up and down on the stairs as many times as you can for 45 seconds, then take a 15 second break. Perform three sets, then take a 30 second break before moving on to your next exercise in your day’s routine (if there is one).

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Dynamic Cycle B

Roger Lawson: “Set your timer for 10 minutes and cycle through each exercise described below for the prescribed number of repetitions (reps), aiming to complete as many cycles as possible within the time limit. Rest only as much as you need to between each exercise and cycles.”

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  • Single Leg Hip Thrust (5 to 10 reps on each leg) – Balance your shoulders on one bench and a single foot on another so that the rest of your body is suspended in between. Thrust your hips upward and bring them back down, keeping one leg raised and not touching the bench. (Video)
  • Shoulder Press (5 reps) – Put your feet on a chair and your hands on the floor in front of it. Bend your upper body downward so it’s pointing almost straight down at the ground. Support yourself with your hands and lower your head to the ground, then push back up again. (Video)
  • Burpees (5 reps) – Start in pushup position. Do a single pushup, and as you finish propel your legs forward so you are in a crouching position. Immediately jump up, raising your hands in the air, and go back down into a pushup position to repeat. (Video)
  • Jumping Jacks (20 reps) – Perform standard jumping jacks. (Video)

If you find that you can’t do as many reps as recommended, scale it back to whatever you can do at that moment. Also, if you can do more reps, challenge yourself and go for it as long as your form remains respectable.

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Interval training is, essentially, the basis of every

  • Jog for two minutes to warm up.
  • Sprint as fast as you can for 40 seconds, then jog for 20 seconds as rest. Repeat six times.
  • Jog for two minutes to cool down.

If you need a greater challenge, add leg weights.

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Take a moment to laugh at the name and then get ready for Fartlek to kick your butt. It’s a type of interval training where you pick a set distance and vary your speed as you run it. There are many ways you can break the distance down, but here’s one example:

  • Jog the first 10% of the distance at a leisurely pace to warm up.
  • Sprint the next 20% of the distance as fast as you can.
  • Jog at faster pace than when you started for 10% of the distance.
  • Increase your speed to a run for 30% of the distance.
  • Sprint as fast as you can for 10% of the distance.
  • Finish the remaining 20% at a jogging pace, slowing down as your heart rate drops.

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You can incorporate Fartlek anywhere you can run, but it’s easiest on a track because it is simple to figure out how far you’ve gone. If you can run a mile in about nine minutes, starting with a distance of about half a mile is good. If that’s too easy, you can go farther. If that’s too hard, start with a quarter mile instead.

Dynamic Cycle D

Roger Lawson: “Set your timer for seven and a half minutes and cycle through each exercise described below for the prescribed number of repetitions (reps), aiming to complete as many cycles as possible within the time limit. Rest only as much as you need to between each exercise and cycles.”

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  • Push Backs (5 to 10 reps) – Get in pushup position but keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself down like you’re doing a standard pushup, but instead of pushing yourself up, push yourself back towards your feet so your legs bend at about a 90 degree angle. Then move back into your starting position and repeat. (Video)
  • Reverse Lunges (5 to 10 reps each leg) – Start in a standing position. Step back with one foot and go down to a kneeling position. Come back up and bring both feet together. (Video)
  • Planks (30 to 60 seconds) – Get into plank position and hold yourself in that position for 30-60 seconds. (Video)
  • Bodyweight Squats (10 reps) – Perform standard squats. (Video)

If you find that you can’t do as many reps as recommended, scale it back to whatever you can do at that moment. Also, if you can do more reps, challenge yourself and go for it as long as your form remains respectable.

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5 Minute Abs

All of these ab exercises can be performed on your back and will help get your heart rate going. You want to avoid taking any breaks during the entire process. Only rest if necessary, and for only as long as you need to. Watch the video for a demo or click here for a rundown.

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  • Scissors – Raise your shoulders off the ground and put your hands by your sides. Lift one leg into the air and inward, lowering the other one down and inward, then alternate. Do 26 of these (13 on each leg).
  • Double crunches – Put your hands at your side on the ground for balance, or hold them in the air for a greater challenge. To perform a double crunch, pull your legs in at the same time as you bring your upper body in. Go back down slowly and repeat the motion 10 times.
  • Single leg double crunches – Perform the same double crunch, only bringing in one leg at a time. Alternate legs, and do 10 of these (5 with each leg).
  • Alternating lifted leg crunches – Bring in your knees and lift your legs straight up in the air. If you can’t get them up all the way, just go as high as you can. Place your hands behind your head and lift your shoulders off the ground. Reach one hand to the opposite foot, crunching up to help you reach it. Alternate hands, doing a total of 26 reps (13 with each hand/foot).
  • Single leg lift crunches – Extend your legs out, keeping one knee bent. Keep your hands behind your head and your shoulders off the ground. Lift the unbent leg straight up in the air and back down again, curling up as you bring your leg in. Do 25 on each leg (50 total).
  • Bicycles – Keep your hands behind your head. Bring one leg in to touch the opposite elbow while extended your other leg out. Alternate legs/elbows. This should look like you’re cycling. Do 26 repetitions (13 on each side).
  • Scissors – Do an additional 26 reps (13 on each side).
  • Double crunches – Do an additional 10 reps.
  • Single leg lift crunches – Do an additional 10 reps with each leg (20 total).
  • Suspended crunch – Keep your legs curled in a bent position and curl up like you’re doing a crunch. Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Double crunches – Do 5 additional reps.
  • Single leg double crunches – Do 12 additional reps (6 on each side).

It looks like a lot, and it’s tough, but it goes by very quickly.

Core Cycle

Your goal is to perform as many cycles of the following exercises as you can in 10 minutes. Don’t rush—just perform the exercise at a quick pace without sacrificing good form. Rest only as much as you need to between each cycle. About 15 seconds is good.

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  • Double crunches (10 reps) – Put your hands at your side on the ground for balance, or hold them in the air for a greater challenge. To perform a double crunch, pull your legs in at the same time as you bring your upper body in. Go back down slowly and repeat the motion 10 times.
  • Single leg double crunches (10 reps) – Perform the same double crunch, only bringing in one leg at a time. Alternate legs, and do 10 of these (5 with each leg).
  • V-Ups (10 reps) – Lay on the floor (or on a mat) on your back. Simultaneously lift your feet and arms up in the air, bringing them together until they touch. Once they touch, slowly bring them back down.
  • Bicycles – Keep your hands behind your head. Bring one leg in to touch the opposite elbow while extended your other leg out. Alternate legs/elbows. This should look like you’re cycling. Do 30 repetitions (15 on each side).
  • Suspended crunch – Keep your legs curled in a bent position and curl up like you’re doing a crunch. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

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If these exercises become too easy at any point, increase the number of repetitions by five (or 15 seconds in the case of the suspended crunch). If they’re too hard, reduce each set by the same amount.

Balance Core and Cardio

For these exercises you will need something to offset your balance. The video suggests a Bosu Ball, but those are pretty expensive. If you can’t afford one (or don’t want to pay the money), you can use a foam roller or even a pile of firm cushions. Watch the video to your left to learn how to perform these exercises or click here for a breakdown.

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Perform each exercise for 30 seconds with a 15 second break in between:

  • Opposite Elbow to Knee Crunch – Lean back on the ball so it is underneath your lower back. Put one hand behind your head and extend the leg on the opposite side of your body. Keep your remaining hand and foot flat on the ground. Bring the elbow of the arm behind your head in while bringing your opposite extended leg in and touch your elbow to your knee. Go back to the starting position and repeat the action for 30 seconds on each side.
  • Around the Worlds – Sit down on the ball and balance without your hands or legs touching the floor. Pass a ball over and under your legs for 30 seconds while you cycle your legs like you’re riding a back.
  • Around the World Hops – Place one foot on the ball and the other on the floor. Quickly alternate your feet while turning yourself around the ball for 30 seconds. If 30 seconds is too easy, do this for 60 seconds.
  • Opposite Elbow to Knee Plank – Turn the ball upside down so you are in pushup/plank position. Bring your opposite elbow to your opposite knee on one side, then do the same with the other side. Repeat for 30 seconds.
  • Lateral Side-to-Side Hops – Put one foot on the top of the ball and one foot on the ground. Jump from side to side, back and forth, alternating which foot is on top of the ball. Do this for 30 seconds.
  • Lying Side Crunches – Lay on your side on the ball. Point both your arms in front of you, parallel to your body. Crunch upward. Do 30 seconds on each side.
  • Sprints – Step up onto the ball and back down as fast as you can, lifting your knees high. Do this for 30 seconds.

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Interval training is, essentially, the basis of every

  • Jog for two minutes to warm up.
  • Sprint as fast as you can for 40 seconds, then jog for 20 seconds as rest. Repeat six times.
  • Jog for two minutes to cool down.

If you need a greater challenge, add leg weights.

Take a moment to laugh at the name and then get ready for Fartlek to kick your butt. It’s a type of interval training where you pick a set distance and vary your speed as you run it. There are many ways you can break the distance down, but here’s one example:

  • Jog the first 10% of the distance at a leisurely pace to warm up.
  • Sprint the next 20% of the distance as fast as you can.
  • Jog at faster pace than when you started for 10% of the distance.
  • Increase your speed to a run for 30% of the distance.
  • Sprint as fast as you can for 10% of the distance.
  • Finish the remaining 20% at a jogging pace, slowing down as your heart rate drops.

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You can incorporate Fartlek anywhere you can run, but it’s easiest on a track because it is simple to figure out how far you’ve gone. If you can run a mile in about nine minutes, starting with a distance of about half a mile is good. If that’s too easy, you can go farther. If that’s too hard, start with a quarter mile instead.

Dynamic Cycle C

Roger Lawson: “Set your timer for five minutes and cycle through each exercise described below for the prescribed number of repetitions (reps), aiming to complete as many cycles as possible within the time limit. Rest only as much as you need to between each exercise and cycles.”

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  • Pushups (5 to 10 reps) – Perform standard pushups. (Video)
  • V-Ups (5 reps) – Lay on the floor (or on a mat) on your back. Simultaneously lift your feet and arms up in the air, bringing them together until they touch. Once they touch, slowly bring them back down. (Video)
  • Split Squats (5 to 10 reps on each leg) – Start in a standing position with one leg in front of you and one leg behind. Lower yourself to a kneeling position and bring yourself back up again. (Video)

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If you find that you can’t do as many reps as recommended, scale it back to whatever you can do at that moment. Also, if you can do more reps, challenge yourself and go for it as long as your form remains respectable.

Go For a 20+ Minute Walk

It’s important to keep active every day, and it’s also important to clear your mind. Walking is a great way to do that as it gives you a chance to just relax and enjoy the outdoors. The week can be full of stress and distractions, so it’s really good to keep your body active and let your mind take a break—even if it’s only for 20 minutes.

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Meditate

If you had a stressful week, you really need to take a moment to clear your head. Even if not, it can’t hurt to relax a little. Meditation is a great way to do that, and it can improve your concentration as well. You don’t have to subscribe to a new age lifestyle to gain benefits from meditation. If that’s not your style, just think of it as a way to slow down at the end of the week. To learn a little more about meditation, check out our guide.

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Yoga

Yoga is a great way to relax. Although it requires strength, it shouldn’t tire your body in the same way as regular exercise. While traditionally you’d spend more than 20 minutes per session—and you should if you’ve got the time—you can do as much as you have time for. To learn more about yoga and put together a plan for yourself, check out our guide.

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Wednesday

Saturday

Lower Body Workout

A very special thanks goes out to Roger Lawson (Rog Law Fitness) for creating several of these routines and videos. We’d also like to thank Sarah Stanley, Rachel Shasha and Jason Fitzgerald for contributing exercises as well.
Images by Taylor Medlin (The Noun Project), Leremy (), Official U.S. Navy Imagery, and The Noun Project.

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What I learned working out for a year

Things I learned

  1. Just go do stuff. Then keep doing it.

Every other time I’d tried to get into lifting weights I became paralyzed with fear. Most magazine covers have ONE SIMPLE TRICK to help you get washboard abs. The fitness section of the most bookstores have about 782 different ideas about how to get in shape.

Everywhere I looked I found different advice. But none of them ever gave me the advice I needed: Just find a routine, any routine, and then go and do it. That’s what I did. I Googled, found a routine that I could do from my apartment with a cheap weight bench and dumbbells, and then did that, three days a week.

Next thing I knew, that workout routine became part of my life’s routine. And a year later, I’m still lifting weights, albeit a bit differently. But all that matters is I started.

2. You don’t lose weight in the gym

You lose weight in the kitchen. Your body burns fat (and muscle) for fuel. If you’re giving it too much fuel, it stores it somewhere as fat. If you’re not giving it enough fuel, it uses whatever it can find (fat and muscle).

Part of the reason I wanted to start lifting weights was to look better in a t-shirt. That meant I needed to lower my body fat. So I wanted to lose fat, but try and retain some of my muscle.

That meant if I was eating less food to lose weight (about 500 less calories than my total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE), I had to do strength training, to make my body realize it should burn the fat and not the muscle.

I’ve managed to lose only a few pounds of muscle in a year. The majority of my weight loss has been fat. I actually gained muscle in some areas, but lost some in others. All because I lifted weights while eating less food.

And because I upped the amount of protein I ate. In the first three months of lifting weights, I wasn’t eating enough protein while cutting my daily calories. In 90 days I lost about 8 pounds of fat and 20 pounds of muscle, according to a DEXA Scan I did.

I upped my protein intake immediately, trying to hit around 200 grams a day. The next 90 days, I lost about 15 pounds, and only half a pound of muscle. Much better. Since then, I’ve gained almost all of that muscle back, mostly because I increased the amount of protein I consume while also lifting heavier and heavier weights.

Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. I didn’t gain all that weight in a month, so I’m not going to lose it in a month, either. This is what one year of weight loss looks like, from me weighing myself every day. Lots of peaks and valleys:

It’s a slow moving line going down, which is the healthy way to lose weight.

3. Almost everything you need to know is free and online

Thousands of kind people have put up thousands of videos on how to properly exercise. Not just videos explaining proper form, but also how to stretch properly, how to get warmed up, just everything you need to know.

On top of that, most of the online community, especially on on the Fitness subreddit (I know, right?), is super positive and helpful. Lots of websites exist just to help you lift weights safely and properly. Search and you’ll find them.

4. People will want to give you advice and it isn’t always great

When I started out, lots of friends wanted to tell me how to lift weights properly. Almost none of them went to the gym. Or they heard from a friend who heard from a friend that if you do a single curl, you’ll end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenneger.

The only people who gave me the best advice were those I either asked for help, or those who saw a video I posted of my form and messaged me some critiques. The people who usually messaged me critiques were good friends who have been going to the gym longer than me.

Everyone wants to tell you the thing you’re doing is wrong, or there’s a better way to do anything. So sometimes you gotta figure out when to listen and when to politely say, “Oh, cool, thanks for the tip!”

5. Progressive overload was my missing link

I’ve tried to get into lifting weights about eight times in my life. I even took a weight lifting class in high school. None of it ever took. Because I was missing the one piece of information that was the most important thing.

It’s called progressive overload. It’s the simple idea that if you gradually stress your muscles more, they adapt to the stress. That adaptation is either building, or maintaining, muscle.

You stress your muscles by either adding more weight to your lifts, more repetitions to your lifts or shortening the time between your sets. So, if you were bench pressing 80 pounds, for 3 sets of 6, with three minutes of rest in-between each set, you can progressively overload your muscles the next time by either:

  • 85 pounds, 3 sets of 6, 180 seconds rest
  • 80 pounds, 3 sets of 7, 180 seconds rest
  • 80 pounds, 3 sets of 6, 90 seconds rest

Some of the reason you’re able to lift more weight is because your central nervous system adapts to the weight lifting movement, so you get better at that particular lift. But eventually, your body realizes it needs to adapt, so you build more muscle.

This is why I track every workout and follow a specific routine. Here’s my current one. I write down how much I was able to lift, so the next time I know I need to push myself further so my body is forced to adapt.

(Just a quick note: I don’t do any cardio, other than walking. Years of being fat haven’t been too kind on my knees. Not to mention, running isn’t the greatest thing for everyone.)

6. Weight lifting is kind of a game

But the only person you’re competing with is yourself the last time you lifted. It’s all about self-improvement by pushing yourself to be stronger, to have better form, to just be better than you were six months ago.

Because my primary goal of lifting weights has been to look better, I take photos every week of myself after I go to the gym. That’s a great way to be able to see your progress. I mean, look at this before and after:

See? I’m winning the game versus old, sedentary me. Also, you can see the spots on my chest where doctors had to recently shave my chest when I thought I was having a heart attack. Nope! Just pleurisy.

7. People treat you better when you’re in better shape

People are much nicer to me when I dress like this.

This is one of the suckier things to discover. And, I know, it’s so obvious that better looking people get treated nicer.

But when I was fatter, people were generally nice to me. Now that I’m skinnier than the average American male, people treat me way nicer. People smile more at me. Strangers talk to me more often. (Sometimes it’s because they’re hitting on me.)

It’s definitely made me rethink how I treat strangers in my life. I want to be just as nice to everyone, regardless of how they look. And I wish more people did, too.

8. Exercising regularly has helped my health, my mood and my creativity

I got sick pretty regularly before I started working out. My mood was pretty crummy a lot of the time, too. And I found it hard to focus on my creative projects after work.

Now that I lift weights, I get sick much less often. My mood doesn’t swing to such wild ends of the emotional spectrum as often. And because exercising causes all of these endorphins to rush to my brain, I’m always able to sit down and get a lot of writing done after I hit the gym.

9. Fixing some physical problems didn’t automatically fix my mental ones

This next section is kind of a bummer, so stay with me. For some reason I thought if I became more visually appealing, that’d fix some of the problems in my brain. That was wrong.

I still get super sad sometimes. I’ll get in a depressive funk that won’t go away. My brain will steer me toward doing self-destructive things. It sucks. A lot.

I thought if I made myself more visually appealing, if I became objectively more attractive to the world, it would mean more people would like me and love me. And that would somehow fill that emptiness inside of me, this void that’s been ever present since I ever could remember.

That’s not the case at all. If anything, the nothingness is bigger now. Because I still look at myself in the mirror, and I know all the progress I’ve made, but I can still grab at my stomach and call myself fat.

That hatred of myself and my body, fueled by constant bullying throughout my entire life because of my size, that just doesn’t go away because I can fit into normal sized pants. I still see a fat kid in the mirror. One who isn’t worthy of anyone’s love.

And I know, deep down, that’s total bullshit. I do deserve to be loved, regardless of how I look. Everyone does. No matter what.

Is exercising every day bad for you?

The answer is both yes and no, or more accurately, it depends…..

Perhaps the two biggest factors in determining how to answer this question are: A) what do you define as a ‘workout’ and, B) what are you trying to accomplish with said workout.

For the sake of this question I am going to break up a ‘workout’ into two major groups. The first will be resistance training and the second will be cardio.

Resistance Training

This is essentially where you contract, elongate or hold a muscle through its range of motion while under tension. With resistance training you can play with several factors including: heavier weight, more repetitions, or longer time under tension. You can also isolate specific muscles or do movements that recruit multiple joints and therefore require the body to work multiple muscle groups at the same time. The multi-joint movements (not so surprisingly) make your body more holistically exhausted than the isolation workouts and therefore are less likely to be performed multiple days in a row.

Fortunately there is a ton of research on the topic of total workout volume (reps * sets). It seems the most effective dose is 40–70 reps 2–3 times a week. Previously it was thought that any more volume (than the prescribed amount above) would be detrimental to muscle growth, but that is being called into question. It is thus unclear if additional volume will hurt your growth or if it just is more of a story of diminishing returns, where more reps and sets beyond that point still provide value just not as much as.

It is important to understand the difference between overtraining and overreaching. Perhaps the simplest way to put it is that overtraining is a reduction in performance for a prolonged period of time that ends up at your own detriment and preventing progress whereas overreaching is more akin to pushing yourself hard with adequate recovery so that you may become better.

Perhaps the best way to differentiate between the two is by guessing and checking. Taking a rest day once or twice a week with perhaps a deloading week once every mesocylce is often advised.

This will reduce the chance for injury and will help you consistently make gains over time which is by far the greatest predictor of your success in the gym, not periodic times of workout inspiration that pewter off after a few weeks *Cough* new years resolutions *cough*. It has been said that power lifting success is mostly a function of how long you can continue progressing without getting injured.

Workout frequency may also be heavily dependent on the muscle group being worked. Anecdotally most professionals will recommend that Forearms, Calves, and Abs can be worked out as much as 6 days a week. The assumption is that these muscle groups were designed to always be working. Experienced Gym bros have sort of learned this intuitively as they find themselves more tired the day after from Deadlifting than a simple ab workout.

Cardio

There has recently been a lot of hype around High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) or in laymen terms, running sprints. People love it because it ends up burning a lot of calories despite a short amount of total workout time. This is due to something called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (E.P.O.C). EPOC stands in sharp contrast with low interval steady state cardio (L.I.S.S.) which most people despise because its hard and it takes a long time. LISS has less EPOC but burns more calories during the workout than HITT.

Both have their own pros and cons. The biggest con of LISS is that it takes a lot of time, whereas HITT has a more draining impact on your body that may reduce recovery and therefore limit the amount of allowable workouts within a week. Ideally it is best to have a combination of both HITT and LISS, but depending on how you have recovered from either type of workout will determine if you can or should workout again the next day.

The second principle is of course the why. Are you training for Beijing 2022 or are you just trying to work off that Dad bod? This matters because you will need to decide if you want to incorporate the minimum effective dose or the maximum recoverable volume, both will work but both have their pros and cons.

M.R.V.- This is where you do as much as your body can handle. The only caveat being that your body needs to be recovered before the next workout. The cons of this method are that you are much more likely to injury yourself, but you get closer to your maximum genetic potential much sooner than with M.E.D.

M.E.D.- This is where you do the minimum amount of work that will inspire change in your body. As as stated earlier it takes much longer to become your best self, but you are less likely to get injured plus it is much more maintainable.

If you are a young adult looking to train for the next Olympics which has a deadline of 4 years. MRV might be the best for you. If you work in a cubicle and have a family it might make more sense for you to try M.E.D.

Both can get you to the same place they just are different strategies. So why do I tell you this? Because two people that have been working out for three years but with different strategies, may appear to be very different looking.

The way they look is less of a factor of what type of workout they have been doing and more so the strategy they have undertaken. Someone who just wants to look good 24/7 all year round probably doesn’t need to be training to or beyond failure at every workout. In this instance where (volume is reduced) the frequency of the workouts may increase.

If you are having trouble conceptualizing this think about the difference between running a marathon everyday vs doing 10 push ups every morning and night. In the case of doing push ups when you wake up and before you go to bed the individual is actually working out twice per day everyday.

Not everyone is a professional athlete or a competitive bodybuilder. Its very understandable and even encouraged for someone to walk six thousands steps a day everyday plus a few push ups and sit ups. In this instance there is no reason to say that you couldn’t workout everyday.

The reality of the matter is most people just aren’t pushing themselves hard enough to warrant a rest day.

Bradley Russell’s answer to How do you know when you are pushing yourself hard enough at the gym?

Bradley Russell’s answer to How do you know if you are pushing yourself too hard at the gym?

40% rule The 40% Rule: A Navy SEAL’s Secret to Mental Toughness

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Whether you’re a complete beginner or a “re-starter”, you must be wondering how physical activity will impact you and your health. Well, I have some good news for you. Exercising will not only change your lifestyle but will also have some interesting health benefits that you’ll see and feel on your body from head to toe.

The next question is usually ‘how long does it take to see changes in body from working out?’. You might get surprised, but the benefits of exercising will actually knock on the door from day one. But don’t be disappointed if not all of them come at once. There are definitely some changes that will only arrive after a while.

Let’s look at the timeline of your body will change once you start exercising!

Exercising Benefits On Your Body

One Day Of Working Out Results On Your Body

Exercising makes the body pump more blood to the muscles. This will increases the blood flow, which is beneficial for your brain.

The minute you start exercising, your brain cells will function at a higher level. The increased blood flow to your brain will make you more alert and awake during exercising and more focused after.

As we all know exercising often comes with pain. As a response to this pain, your brain will start releasing certain types of chemicals including endorphins. Endorphins are often known as the source of euphoria and will not just kill your pain, but also boost your dedication so you’ll push harder.

Read About Exercising And Endorphins Here

Once you’re done with exercising your brain will release more endorphins, which will elevate your mood for the day.

When you start moving, your body’s energy expenditure increases. The energy it burns comes primarily from glucose, which is stored in the body as glycogen . Glycogen is generated by your liver when it processes carbs. With decreased glycogen levels your body will then start turning fat and protein into glucose to help meet your increasing energy demands.

Therefore, your fat storage will be better mobilized once you start exercising and you’ll start losing body fat. But remember that if you want to maintain that body fat loss, you’ll have to keep your calories in below your calories out. So let’s make sure that no one expects to lose fat after 3 In-N-Out burgers just because they hit the gym for half an hour before.

A good way to hold yourself accountable and make sure you’re in a caloric deficit is by tracking your nutrition. Find out how by visiting The Ultimate Tracking Guide.

One Week Of Working Out Results On Your Body

It only takes a few cardio sessions to become fitter and improve your energy. After a couple of workouts, mitochondria in your cells will increase rapidly. Mitochondria are said to be the “power generators” of your cells. They turn oxygen and nutrients into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what powers the metabolic activities of your cells .

As your cells have more mitochondria, your energy production will become more efficient. And hence, physical activity will become easier from this point onwards.

But mitochondria are not only good for pumping you up with energy. They also protect your cells and make them stronger, which will lead to improving your general health & wellbeing.

One Month Of Working Out Results On Your Body

After training for a month, changes in your muscle mass will finally become visible. Both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers in your muscle cells will start to grow and your muscles will get stronger.

As a result of growing muscles and becoming fitter, your metabolic rate will also start to increase. Faster metabolism means burning more calorie at resting state as well. This means that you’ll be able to say goodbye to more calories even when you’re not sweating in the gym while holding a plank.

Learn About How To Boost Your Metabolism With Exercising

Your metabolism will work harder 24/7 from this point onwards and you’ll drop those pounds easier.

One month of training in, you’ll already become fitter. So say hello to higher intensity, higher reps, heavier weights and longer cardio sessions. As your workout level shifts, your brain will release more endorphins. So ultimately, it won’t only affect your physique, but your mind as well.

As you become fitter, your daily life will also become easier. Let’s just think about a few basic examples. You’ll be able to climb stairs easier without gasping after floor 2. You’ll easily walk to the store that’s 10 minutes from home. You won’t miss the bus if you have to run to catch it. And you’ll not need your hubby to carry your bags after grocery shopping.

Life will simply become easier, happier.

Six Months Of Working Out Results On Your Body

If you’re in the weight lifting department, get ready for some heavy compliments from friends and family after 6 months. Your muscle growth will be clearly visible with bare eyes at this point. But what’s even better is that you will also feel more powerful.

You’ll have a greater endurance and won’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Lifting heavier weights and increasing the difficulty of your training will be easy peasy lemon squeezy.

However, to enjoy these benefits, you’ll also need to pay attention to the nutrition side. Here’s a great guide to calculate the your ideal macro ratio!

When you exercise, you need more oxygen. Therefore, your heart rate increases to pump more blood and increase oxygen circulation. After 6 months or so, your heart will grow in size from the more intense blood pumping. As a result of this process, it will also get stronger and become more efficient.

Additionally, your resting heart rate and your blood pressure will decrease, which lowers the risk of heart attack.
It is also worth noting, that if your blood pressure is too low it can lead to problems such as blurred vision and dizziness.
So in that case, try these home remedies to treat low blood pressure.

One Year Of Working Out Results On Your Body

Exercising and having a healthy weight can have a significant positive influence on your bone health. Weight-bearing exercises, in particular, are the best for your bones. These include running, jumping rope, stair climbing and skiing. Additionally, according to the Medicine and science in sports and exercise’s study, resistance training can also improve bone density.

Changes in your skeleton will become measurable after about half a year. And after 12 months of exercising, your bone density will start increasing too. The higher your bone density, the lower the chances of fracture.

We usually don’t think about this, but exercising doesn’t only have physical, but also mental benefits. First of all, working out is an amazing way of stress relief. After a year of “gym-therapy”, your body will learn how to deal with mental stress in a more effective way. And as we all know, less stress means better mental health.

Secondly, exercising can also reduce anxiety. According to the Society for Adolescent Medicine’s publication, physical activity boosts self-esteem. Which is quite a no-brainer, since after a year of regularly hitting the gym, you’ll definitely feel better in your skin and become more confident.

Lastly, more of a surprising perk is that you’ll also experience better brain function and sharpen memory.

Leaving the most important one to the end, working out will not feel like an obligation anymore. After one year, you’ll finally start enjoying your workouts and maybe even become a little bit addicted. After seeing and feeling all the benefits, you’ll feel like wanting to go to the gym. But don’t worry, as long as it’s a healthy addiction, it’ll be for your own good!

Check-out The Best Fitness Apps of 2017 to Get Moving

So now that you know how your body changes from exercising, don’t wait anymore! Get up, go to the gym and start enjoying all these health benefits after day one!

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7 Quick Workouts for Every Day of the Week

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If you lead a busy life, trying to squeeze a workout into your weekly calendar can feel like a game of Tetris. These quick workouts are perfect for any day of the week and will keep you on track to meeting your fitness goals.

1. Wake Me Up, Keep Me Going Workout Challenge

Starting your day with a workout is guaranteed to make that day better. Jump up out of bed and challenge yourself in the early morning with this workout.

2. 7-Minute Body Weight Blast Workout

Push your body further with this fat blasting workout.

3. 6-Minute Fat-Blasting Workout You Can Do Anywhere

Head outdoors, enjoy the weather, and change your body with this fast-paced workout.

4. 10 Minute At-Home Fat Blasting Workout

If you’re pressed for time, this home workout is the perfect way to squeeze exercise into your day.

5. 7 Minutes to Whittle Your Middle

This workout can make all the difference in slimming your midsection any day of the week.

6. 10 Minute Power Workout

Use power to gain power. This 10-minute workout will have you feeling like a stronger version of yourself.

7. 6 Minute Workout for Better Sleep
Sleep is the body’s way of recharging. Use this workout to ensure you get your full rest.

A week’s worth of workouts needs a week’s worth of meals. Try these 7-day meal plans to help fuel every workout:
7-Day Flush The Fat Away Meal Plan
7-Day Get Lean Program
7 Day Clean Eating Menu

Like us on Facebook and get the skinny on new recipes and workouts straight from the source. And be sure to check out our Pinterest and subscribe to our newsletter for the best of the best in clean eating and workout challenges.

Speak your mind in our comments section! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, and on our other content.

Getting fit is the one resolution that’s at the top of my list every year in some shape or form. It often sneaks on the list in an unhealthy way like “lose 10lbs” or “be size x by x date”… goals that I never seem to reach and in the end don’t add to my personal health or happiness anyway. But as I’ve started the descent to the end of my twenties (it’s getting real now), I can see beyond a size on my pants and have a much deeper desire to be an active and healthy individual.

A few months ago when I made the move from Los Angeles (land of healthy fitness options – both free and paid – on every corner) to Alabama (where options around me are incredibly limited and at least a thirty minute drive from our home), I found myself stuck in a fitness rut, despite my resolutions. With convenience no longer on my side and no close friends to motivate me, I became more and more sedentary. My weekly trips to the gym started to diminish in frequency and I just couldn’t get excited about working out. When Outdoor Voices reached out to partner with us, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to keep me accountable and completely overhaul my routine. I set a goal to work out every day for 30 days… with a few ground rules.

The Rules for 30 Days

1. Workouts Needed to Consistently Change
This would not be 30 days of zoning out on the elliptical while watching instagram videos (sadly, that is not the way to health and happiness, trust me, I’ve tried). I needed to remind myself that working out and being healthy doesn’t only happen in the gym or a spin class. Promising myself never to do the same activity two days in a row meant I needed to get creative. Bring it.

2. Suit Up When You’re Ready to Work Out
I’d be lying if I didn’t say athleisure was my favorite fashion trend of all time. I can’t even remember the last time I wore pants with buttons on them to brunch. Who needs real pants anyway? But armed with my new sports wear from Outdoor Voices, I wanted to treat it exactly like what it was: athletic apparel for athletic activities (which meant “eating” had to be cut from the list, bummer). So in the same way you only put on your “special interview suit” when you need to make a good impression and land your dream job, I reserved my special collection of Outdoor Voices gear for working out and working out alone.

3. Make Myself a Priority
Six a.m. workouts are not at the top of my list of favorite things (cheese boards and dressing rooms mirrors that make me look like a magical princess have taken the top spots). But there is no denying the statement you make to yourself when you say “Before I do anything else today, I’m going to put myself first.” If I’m not jumping out of bed, I can at least commit to myself that when I set aside time for my health, I will disconnect and put my best energy and attitude into it. Less “I can’t believe it took me that long to run a mile — why am I a sloth human” and more “that was so fun! I’m glad I did it!” Fake it till you make it.

And just like that, the 30 days began.

DAY ONE: On day one, I quit the far away gym (fees and all) and signed up at a less exciting, more crowded, option that was only 15 minutes away. NO EXCUSES. My boyfriend was so excited that he offered to take me through a HIIT workout. Trying to embrace rule #1, I left my comfortable spot on the elliptical. How bad could it be if it’s only 30 minutes?!

FAST FORWARD TO 24 MINUTES LATER.

Somehow I was so focused on keeping things diverse that I completely forgot to be proud of myself for doing it. But rather than groan about my noodle legs the next day, I tried to focus on being excited that I was sore. Ok, I still groaned… but I didn’t give up. I mixed it up by rotating between walking long distances with our dogs, taking a barre class, doing an online yoga video, helping my neighbor rake her yard (aka one hour of intense arm exercises — it’s harder than it looks), and jumping rope in our driveway.

WEEK ONE: The first week it honestly felt like a chore. I struggled with changing my schedule and found myself on more than a few days putting it off… as if it was a tedious task like going to the post office. 9 pm would roll around and I would whine all the way to the gym. Changing my mentality became harder than the actual physical exercise part, even though that was pretty much kicking my ass as well.

On day seven, I headed back to the gym. Determined not to spend the next 30 days wishing time away, I did the same HIIT routine and much to my surprise, I made it through the entire workout. Did I still want to puke? Yes. But I could see the progress after only a few short days and it gave me the motivation I needed to stop being such a cry baby.

WEEK 2: Seeing any sort of progress became the light at the end of the tunnel… and hitting the 15 day mark didn’t hurt either. I looked forward to days where I would time myself running (ok, more of a jog slash power walk) or returned to the gym for some HIIT. But because a healthy lifestyle is so much more than just hours logged into the gym, I tried to make sure my gym time was balanced with healthy, outdoor activities. I became a regular at our park walking trails and our yard has never looked so clean and pruned.

WEEK 3: On day 20 when I was leaving for the gym, a neighbor offered me a spot in their volleyball game. And despite being COMPLETELY TERRIBLE AT ALL SPORTS, I went over and gave it my all. Was I the weakest link on the team? You bet your ass. Did I care? Not at all. Walking home after hours of laughing and *playing* (heavily embellishing my skill by even saying that) volleyball, it was a reminder that being active is fun. It doesn’t have to be a chore. A lesson my “I wish I was a size 2” heart desperately needed. The many compliments on my leggings didn’t hurt either.

WEEK 4: Around day 25, we went on a weekend trip to Nashville with friends. Determined not to let myself down, I committed to getting up early to take our dogs on an hour long walk. On our second day there, I suggested we get city bikes rather than using lyft. I found myself with the drive and energy to do things that I might have previously shied away from, using the old “I’m not in shape” excuse.

The Result.

I didn’t step on a scale or measure my body parts (spoiler alert: my thighs are still jiggly). My 30 day journey ended up more about reminding myself that being active is about progress, not perfection. I went from feeling not fit enough because I don’t have the flat “instagram” belly to being proud of myself for still fitting in a workout after a 12 hour work day. Were all my workouts fun? Hell no. Whoever invented HIIT is not my friend. But I found myself enjoying the time I set aside for myself and my health.

Despite how many miles I put on my new sports wear over these 30 days, I was pumped to see how well they held up. My go-to bargain workout leggings usually end up pilling in the crotch area after a handfull of wears… sorry internet, but my thighs will always rub together, #noshame. My workout tops often end up with sweat stains or lightened armpits from heavy deoderant use. But after countless washes, my Outdoor Voices gear comes out of the dryer looking new every time. No crotch pilling or signs of wear. That’s two thumbs WAY up if you ask me.

The Takeaway.

Am I going to keep working out every single day? Probably not. Am I going to stay active and start setting goals for myself? Absolutely. While I’m never going to be a star athlete (sorry if you end up on my recreational team), these thirty days gave me the confidence to try things that formerly “weren’t for me.” Feeling like you aren’t going to be good at something shouldn’t stop you from doing it. So what if I jogged a 14 minute mile… I JOGGED THE DAMN MILE! 2017 feels like the year I finally run a 5K or have the courage to try paddleboarding. And while I won’t be pushing myself to hit the pavement every single day, I will be focusing less on the traditional idea of “working out” and more on getting outside, leaving technology behind, and just having fun.

This post is sponsored by Outdoor Voices but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board.

The old guideline recommending 30 minutes of exercise three times a week just isn’t enough, according to the latest research. Athletes know that they need to work out every day, and all people who just want to stay healthy can benefit from the same type of exercise program.

Why Athletes Need to Exercise Every Day
Knowledgeable athletes train by stressing and recovering. You have to damage muscles to gain strength and enlarge muscles. You become more fit by taking a hard workout and then resting for a day or two than you will by exercising at the same leisurely pace every day. Every muscles is made up of thousands of fibers like a rope is made of many strands. Every fiber is made up of blocks called sarcomeres that fit end to end like a row of bricks. Sarcomeres butt upon each other, end-to-end, at Z-lines.

Muscles contract only at each Z-line. When you exercise vigorously, you damage these Z-lines and when they heal, the muscle fibers are stronger. So all athletes train by stressing and recovering. On one day, they take an intense workout to damage their muscles at the Z-lines. On the next day their muscles are sore and damaged and they exercise at a relaxed pace. When the muscles are healed and the soreness lessens, they take their next intense workout.

If athletes exercise at low intensity during the healing phase of the Z-lines, their muscle fibers will become stronger than if they rest. If they exercise vigorously when their muscles are sore, they are likely to tear them and be injured. Athletes need to exercise every day to gain maximum strength.

Why Non-Athletes Also Should Exercise Every Day
Forty percent of North Americans die of heart attacks. One of the common causes of the arterial damage that precedes heart attacks is a high rise in blood sugar after meals. Blood sugar always rises after meals and because of faulty lifestyle habits, most North Americans have blood sugars that rise too high. Resting muscles remove no sugar from the bloodstream, but contracting muscles remove sugar rapidly from the bloodstream and can do so without even needing insulin. This effect is strongest during exercise and diminishes to no benefit after about 17 hours. If you want to use exercise to help control blood sugar, you need to do it every day.

An Exercise Program for Everyone
Because a person with blocked arteries leading to the heart could suffer a heart attack during exercise, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Whatever activity you choose, try to exercise every day. If you are just starting out, spend about six weeks at a slow pace until you are comfortable in your activity. Then you are ready to alternate more intense days with easier workouts.

Intense Days
Stress refers to intensity, not the length of your workout. You can gauge the severity of the stress by the amount of burning you feel in your muscles during exercise. interval training means that you start out slowly, pick up the pace, slow down immediately when your muscles start to burn, recover by going very slowly for as long as you want, and then pick up the pace again.

On your hard days, warm up by going very slowly for five to 10 minutes. Going slowly at the start of a workout warms up muscles to help make them resistant to injury. If your muscles still feel tired or heavy, do not try interval training. Exercising with tired or sore muscles can cause serious injuries.

After you warm up, pick up the pace gradually until you feel burning in your muscles and immediately slow down. Then go at a very slow pace until the soreness goes away, your breath returns to normal and you feel recovered. How long it takes to recover is irrelevant. You take your next faster pick up when you feel that you have recovered, not from any preset time. Then pick up the pace until you feel burning again.

If you don’t compete, you do not ever need to go at 100 percent intensity. People who are just starting to do interval workouts should pick up the pace only slightly and not become short of breath. Slow down and get out of the burn as soon as you feel it. As soon as the burning and fatigue go away, and you are not breathing hard, try to pick up the pace again. In early workouts, you may only be able to do one hard pickup after you have just started your workout. Do not start your next pick up until your legs feel fresh. As soon as your legs start to feel heavy, stop the workout. Trying to increase the pace when your muscles feel sore and heavy invites injury.

Easy Days
The day after your hard workout your muscles will probably feel sore and you should take an easy workout. If the discomfort does not go away as you continue to exercise, is worse on one side of your body, or increases as you exercise, stop exercising immediately. You are injured and continuing to exercise will delay healing. Take off the next day also if you still feel sore in one place. If you feel better as you exercise casually, continue to exercise until you feel any discomfort or heaviness. Always stop every workout when your muscles feel heavy or sore. Keep on taking easy days where you exercise at low intensity until you feel fresh again. Do not do another hard workout until the soreness in your muscles has gone away.

My Recommendations
Every healthy person should try to exercise every day. You will gain a much higher level of fitness by “stressing and recovering”. That means to exercise more intensely on one day, feel sore on the next and go slowly. Only when your muscles feel fresh should you try to pick up the pace again.

Checked 7/12/19

When First Starting to Workout, Is It Best to Workout Every Day or Every Other Day?

A great question I was asked the other day, “When starting to work out, is it best to work out every day or every other day?” So I figured I would share my answer with others who may have the very same question.

Answer: It is best to workout 4 to 5 times a week when starting to exercise. I would suggest weight training Monday through Friday and only exercising each muscle group once a week (except for abs which can be performed more than once a week). The best time to work out is in the morning as your body’s natural testosterone production is elevated.

Another thing worth mentioning is to not weight train for longer than 45 minutes a day as your body will begin to turn catabolic which is an unfavorable condition where your body stores fat and eats muscle tissue! I do not know anyone who works out that likes to lose muscle and store fat. In addition, make sure that your cardio exercises are performed after your weight training session as you will have used up your muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for energy while performing the weight training exercises and when you go to do your cardio, it will be much easier to burn fat!

Being that you are just starting out, it goes without question that you will become sore as your body is not used to these types of movements. Realize that when you are working out, you are damaging your muscle fibers, NOT building them up. So you need to rebuild and repair them! Some great ways to do this are getting a good night’s sleep, consuming 1 gram of protein per pound and taking a recovery supplement like L-Glutamine or BCAA’s.

About the Author

Anthony Alayon is the owner of Health Reporter Daily, is a best selling fitness author, and creator of the 101 Toxic Food Ingredients They Never Told You About. He is also creator of the Fat Extinction Program and co-creator of The University of Abs. He has over 12 years experience in the fitness industry. Anthony is a writer for Natural Muscle Magazine and has been featured in major online publications such as the NY Times About.com site to Bodybuilding, Bodybuilding.com, Labrada.com and HugoRivera.net. Be sure to check out his Toxic Foods website below:

Also, be sure to like his fan page at:

and subscribe to his YouTube Channel below:

It all started way back in February 2016. Prior to then, I was working out three to five times a week. My routine varied, but it typically involved a mix of cardio and strength training with a little yoga sprinkled in. At the time, I had also just taken up boxing to further diversify. Despite my high level of activity, I was feeling increasingly unmotivated to hit the gym.

I remember taking two rest days in a row around Valentine’s Day and feeling so guilty about it. I told myself, “It’s a holiday weekend! Take it easy. Eat the chocolate. Drink the mimosas. You’ll be fine.”

And yes, I was fine, but I didn’t want to be just fine. I wanted to be excited to work out. I wanted to challenge myself and progress. I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something, rather than just going through the motions of my routine. So I got this idea: What if I challenged myself to work out every single day? It seemed impossible, and that’s precisely why I wanted to try it.

So that’s how it started. Initially it was, “I’ll work out every day until the end of February.” When that happened, I set my sights on one month. Two months. Three months. And then…well, here we are, approximately 21 months later. My daily workouts are a mix of weightlifting, indoor cycling, yoga, boxing, and cardio sessions on machines like the StairMaster. Note: There’s nothing wrong with taking rest days; in fact, they’re essential for letting your muscles recover and get stronger. Rest days don’t have to mean you’re completely inactive, though—I take active rest days, meaning, I still move but in a really low-intensity way by doing things like yoga or going for a walk.

I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I hope that no matter where you are in your fitness journey, you’ll find these lessons below helpful too.

1. Making time to work out every day is a huge challenge in itself.

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way: There have been a lot of sucky moments. When my alarm goes off at 6 a.m., it’s miserable—still. I virtually sleepwalk to the gym and wonder how I even made it there, and that’s if I even wake up. While I prefer to work out in the mornings so I can have my evenings free, lately this has been a huge struggle for me. So I’ll hit the snooze button one too many times, and all of a sudden it’s 8 o’clock and I’ve got to book it to the office. This means that when I get off work, despite wanting nothing more than to hit happy hour, I have to make time for the gym.

Whenever I find myself teetering on the line between going for it and giving up, I always remind myself that if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Over time, I’ve gotten really good at prioritizing my days—if I’d rather sleep in, I work out later. But if having plans after work is important, then I know I have to fit in my workout in the morning or over lunch.

Kent B. Campbell2. I am oftentimes too hard on myself—and I deserve to give myself more credit.

This lesson is one that I’m actively learning to implement. Although I’m not particularly competitive with others, I’m extremely competitive with the woman in the mirror. I set wildly ambitious expectations, and if I don’t meet them, I immediately write myself off as a failure.

9 Reasons to Skip Your Workout… Sometimes

In our more-is-better world, it’s easy to get caught in the overtraining trap. But when it comes to working out, sometimes it pays to do less. We’re certainly not telling anyone to quit exercising, but your workout schedule should have built-in rest days (and even weeks). Not convinced? Here are nine reasons why you shouldn’t go to the gym every single day:

1. Your muscles grow when you rest.

Lifting weights creates tiny tears in your muscles that can only repair during rest. This repair process is what makes your muscles stronger than before. While it’s important to work your muscles (hard!) to stimulate muscle-building proteins, it’s equally as important to give your body enough time to recover (usually until you’re no longer sore).

2. Overtraining can cause a weight-loss plateau.

You know that working out too often or too intensely can lead to too much weight loss, but most people don’t realize that it can also have the opposite effect. Thanks to your body’s built-in protective mechanisms, overtraining can cause a plateau in your weight loss or even weight gain (unrelated to increased muscle mass).

3. Overtraining can mess with your menstrual cycle and cause amenorrhea, the absence of menstruation.

Aunt Flo may not be your favorite visitor, but think of your period as the canary in the coal mine. Its presence indicates that your body thinks it’s in good shape to grow a baby and its absence signifies a problem, especially if it disappears for three months or more. The drop in estrogen can also cause premature bone loss, making you even weaker and more susceptible to injury.

4. Trouble sleeping? You might be overtraining.

Needing excessive sleep to fuel your workouts or being unable to sleep, even when you’re very tired, are both indicators that something is wrong.

5. Overtraining can cause mood problems.

Exercise can be a potent anti-depressant-studies show it works just as well as medication for mild depression. And we can attest to the mood-boosting power of the runner’s high. But too much exercise can have the opposite effect, causing anxiety over workout schedules and depression from being chronically run down.

6. More exercise = bigger appetite.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to notice the link between exercise and hunger. The more you train, the more energy your body needs to sustain that exertion and the hungrier you get. Women often fear that cutting back on their cardio will make them gain weight, but that’s not how it works. Your hunger usually decreases in proportion with your lighter workout schedule, so you won’t feel the need to feed your body nearly as much.

7. You’ll feel exhausted… all the time!

We all love the great energy burst we get from an awesome workout, but more exercise does not always mean more energy. If your workouts are regularly making you crash in the afternoon or drag through your day because you’re so tired and sore you can barely move, then you’re doing too much. Listen to your body. If it says, “I’m so sore that I dread sitting down to go the bathroom,” the intense Kettlebell session you have planned is not what it needs.

8. Overtraining often leads to burnout.

In the end, life is about balance. We all have limited resources-time, energy, money, physical reserves-and spending too much of them on exercise can lead to burnout. It’s better to commit to a sane program that fits in with your schedule and goals than to go all out and want to quit after one month. Exercise is a lifelong pursuit, and it should make you happy. Find a balance that works for you-your body and your life.

9. It eats up your limited free time.

Medical problems aside, hitting the gym for lengthy workouts every day is a big time commitment. It’s important to make time for other quality-of-life boosters too, such as hanging out with friends and family, learning something new, treating yourself to a manicure, or even catching up on your secret Real Housewives addiction (don’t worry, we won’t tell).

  • By Charlotte Hilton Andersen @CharlotteGFE

Rest days are a standard part of exercise programs, but they’re not the only way to avoid overworking yourself. Let’s look at the difference between rest and recovery, and when you can bend the rules.

The Reason for Rest Days

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Most strength-focused programs like weightlifting either work your whole body and then skip the next day, or else they have you split up your workouts so that, for example, your arms get a rest on leg day. The idea is to let each muscle recover from a workout before you ask it to do the same thing again.

But not every activity works this way. Runners, for example, often run every day, and may only take one or two true rest days a week. But within that pattern, they will alternate days of hard running (like speedwork, hill running, or long runs) with easy runs that feel less challenging to the body.

Other sports may fall somewhere in between, but nobody expects to work every body part to exhaustion every day. Even when elite athletes do workouts every day that look killer to us, it’s because our “hard” is their “easy”. You can bet their coaches schedule in just enough of the easier workouts to keep the athlete’s progress on track with minimal risk of injury.

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Rest days and splits help us to pace ourselves. Too much hard running, if you’re not used to it, sets you up for tendonitis and other overuse injuries. And too much exercise of any kind can lead to a syndrome called overtraining where your body may develop flu-like symptoms and disturbed sleep because it just can’t keep up with the demands you’re putting on it.

There’s Nothing Magic About Resting for One Day

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Taking a single rest day after a hard workout isn’t the only way to keep yourself from overtraining. There are a few reasons it’s a good rule of thumb, though:

  • Delayed-onset muscle soreness often takes two days to peak. If you did a too-hard workout on Monday, you might be feeling only a little bit sore on Tuesday and think you’re okay to work out some more. If you waited until Wednesday instead, you would have a better sense of how sore or injured you are. Then you would be able to make a better judgment call about whether, and how hard, to work out again.
  • Resting every other day means only half of your days will be hard workouts. The other half will be rest days or easier days, so the schedule keeps your total workout intensity manageable.
  • Mentally, it’s easier to stick to a workout when you enjoy it. Hard workouts aren’t always fun, and you may need to psych yourself up to try something really challenging. It’s okay if you don’t feel up to that every day. Having some easier, almost relaxing days can help you stick to your schedule.

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If you can accomplish those goals with another schedule, though, feel free to do so. If you enjoy all your workouts, even the hard ones, slowly include more hard days in your schedule. If you feel okay with that, keep doing it! But if you end up sore or fatigued, listen to your body and put those rest days back in.

If soreness is your problem, be aware that skipping one day may not be the best way to deal with it. Soreness peaking at 48 hours is just an average, and the true timeframe can vary. Your muscles might only feel sore and weak for one day, or if you tried something new and difficult, you might feel it for a week. At the beginning of a new workout routine, you might even need three or four easy days.

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Recovery Doesn’t Have to Mean Total Rest

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Some people prefer the term “recovery” to “rest” days, because total rest isn’t necessarily your goal. After all, lifting a fork to your mouth is a similar action to a bicep curl, so if you just did a heavy arm day, would you be unable to eat? Clearly, some amount of activity is fine on a rest or recovery day.

This is where you have to calibrate your own sense of effort. If you’re new to exercising and you just did a day of heavy squats, a five mile bike ride is probably not a great choice for the following day. But if you bike five miles to work every day, you should be able to keep doing that even on your “rest” days.

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When I did push-ups every day for 30 days, a few people suggested that I was setting myself up for injury by not taking rest days. But as I wrote in that article, I ramped up my fitness very carefully. A few sets of pushups every day is my new normal, and it’s no more taxing to me than a bike ride is to a bike commuter. Some days I might try a more challenging type of pushup or I might do more reps than usual; but I balance out those harder days with, you guessed it, easier days that are closer to my baseline effort level.

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As you learn your own strengths and limitations, you too can alter your workout schedule according to what works for you. That might mean you only take one or two rest days per week, or it might mean you do mega-hard workouts and then lay low for a few days. If you’re getting a reasonable amount of exercise in total, and if you aren’t getting sore or injured, you’re probably doing okay.

Illustration by Jim Cooke.

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