Zero Dollar Strength Training

>> Wednesday, June 16, 2010

There are lots of workout DVDs and programs out there designed to build strength. But what all these programs share is the ability to get strong in your own living room. However, with so many out there, it's difficult to choose which one to follow. That's exactly why we stick with the basics. We run, and you all already know that (if not, check out our running tips/tricks page), because it's one of the most efficient ways to burn calories and gain cardiovascular benefits.

Other days we bike, walk, or hike. For strength and stability, we also do yoga. But I'm going to share with you today the programs we both (loosely -- more on that below) follow that are absolutely free, require no equipment . . . and are accessible from your desktop.

I'm sure you've heard about these plans before, and if you haven't -- welcome to the awesomeness. For most, all you need to complete them is yourself. By that I mean they're free. They're simple and empowering (literally and figuratively). And what's what? Yeah -- there are no excuses, then, to not try them out.

  • 100 Push-Ups: An intense, 6-week training program that -- if followed strictly -- should have you doing 100 push-ups at a time.
  • 200 Sit-Ups: Yet another 6-week program that promises at completion you'll be able to do 200 consecutive sit-ups.
  • 200 Squats: You know the drill, 6 weeks to 200 squats in a row!
  • 25 Pull-Ups (Coming Soon!): I'm especially excited about this new edition because I can't do even one pull-up right now. So, stay tuned . . .
OK. I bet some of you are thinking: OMG, I can't even do one single "regular" push-up! How can I get to 100 in only 6 weeks?

Well, what's so cool is that these programs guide you through the increases by making you pay attention to your own fitness level and abilities. Not doing so hot one week? It happens. You can repeat it and hone your current skills. No, you won't get to the ultimate goal in 6 weeks -- but that doesn't matter. You'll get there at your own pace.

You don't need to follow these plans exactly either! I used the push-ups program a year ago and didn't finish. Yup. I quit because I got busy/bored/excuses/excuses. But what it helped me do is develop my own strength training practice -- without the gym. I've regularly done one or two sets of 25 push-ups 4 to 5 days out of the week. But over the past two months, I've worked up to doing 80 push-ups in a row. I do that intense session once a week. On the other 3 to 4 days, I do two sets of 50 or some similar variation. Use these programs as guides. It's the push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and pull-ups (I think they should also add holding a plank position) that matter, not the time frame so much.

So before you shell out cash for some flashy workout DVD or all-the-rage new program, consider checking out these simple methods. I've just started the sit-ups one, and I can only do (comfortably) 30 in a row at this point. OK. I lied. It's 25. Just thinking about doing 200 blows my mind.

After that, I'll continue on to the squats. Also -- if you're new to working out, supplement with walking, jogging, biking (to work, even) and other basic methods of fitness. You'll be surprised at your results after a month -- not only in your muscles, but in your overall fitness and self-image.

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