The battle of the bulge is an ever-present war. If you let off for more than a short time, you can lose your momentum and ultimately the battle. The objective for most people is to maintain and/or lose a jean size. Everyone has that one pair of jeans tucked away in the closet that no longer fits. You keep them hoping one day to wear them again. I fall squarely into this category. As a man approaching the age of 40, I find that I’m less able to maintain my weight without exercise. So I do my best to stick with my workout routine.
Morning wake up
First thing every morning, I roll off the bed onto the floor and press out 20 push-ups. I don’t really do this for strength training. It’s just to get my blood pumping so that my mind wakes up enough to keep me from rolling over and going back to sleep. I’m not a morning person and often I have a rough time getting fully awake, so this little trick helps to get my day started.
There is no better way to lose weight and keep your heart healthy than to run
The heart of my routine is running. Three days a week, Monday, Thursday and Saturday, I run for 25 to 30 minutes. If the weather is nice, I run on the sidewalk around my neighborhood. A selected path around my rather large block comes to just about a mile when I run all the way around it. I set my pace and run two to three laps around the block. My pace isn’t as fast as it used to be, but it still does the heart good. When the weather is bad I use the treadmill in my garage.
The other four days of the week I do calisthenics and light weight training. Since my goal is less about becoming a super hero and more about living to see my grandchildren, I no longer go to a gym and press large quantities of weight. I do my routine with a minimum of equipment. Aside from the treadmill, I use a curl bar, a handful of dumbbells, a pull-up bar and a medicine ball.
Core muscles provide balance
I still believe that the core muscles are the key to both balance and fitness, so twice a week, on Tuesday and Sunday, I work the core muscles. For the lower abs, I do hanging knee lifts. To perform this. I hang from my pull-up bar and slowly curl my knees up toward my chest, then slowly lower them back down to the straight position and repeat the process. I generally do three sets of 10 to 12 reps. For the upper abs I like to do modified crunches. Lying on my back with my feet off the floor and my knees bent I curl my upper body up until my elbows touch my knees. Both the up and down movements should be done in a slow controlled fashion.
For the lower back, I perform straight leg lifts, bending at the waist, grabbing my curl bar and lifting it off the ground by straightening up. Be sure to keep the weight bar close along your body as you return to the upright position. Letting it swing away from your body will only do damage to your back. When working my upper back, I like to perform bent over rows. Stand bent over at the waist, not quite at a 90 degree angle, with your knees slightly bent. Grab the curl bar and pull it to your chest in a rowing motion. Slowly lower it back down until your arms are extended. Repeat this for 10 reps. Try to do 3 sets.
Strength training the arms and shoulders
On Wednesday, I workout my arms and shoulders. With a dumbbell in each hand, I curl first my weakest arm and then my strongest. Each curl should go in a path across the chest and twisting up near the shoulder. Reverse the motion slowly and completely before switching to the other arm. Switch arms back and forth as you go. This will ensure that you do not end up working your stronger arm more than your weakest. Remember to strive for balance. Next I use the curl bar to do variations of chest curls. One week I’ll do straight chest curls, lifting the weight the full arch from hanging at the waist, curling up to the chest. The next week, I may curl up to the chest, then lower the bar slowly to the half way point and curl it up again never letting the bar go all the way back down to the waist. Variety will keep the muscles confused so that they work harder.
My shoulder workout starts with Forward Straight Arm Raises and Side Straight Arm Raises. With a low weight dumbbell in each hand, raise the dumbbells straight out in front of your body, parallel to your shoulders, then slowly lower them back to your sides. Be sure to keep your arms straight. After a set of 12, I switch and do the same thing while raising them out to my sides. Do two to three sets of each exercise, rotating between front and then side raises. The third shoulder exercise I do is Seated Shoulder Presses. Sit on your bench with a heavy weight in each hand and press them up to shoulder level, palms facing out. Now press the dumbbells up over your head, twisting your palms in to face each other until your arms are nearly all the way extended. Slowly lower them back down to your shoulders, twisting the palms out again, and repeat the process. Again, do two to three sets of 12.
Strength training the chest and legs
On Friday, I perform my chest and leg workouts. Laying flat on my bench I perform Dumbbell Bench Presses. Holding a heavy dumbbell in each hand with palms facing my sides, I press the weights into the air above me, twisting the dumbbells slowly so that at the top of the lift, my palms are facing toward my lower half. Then I lower the weights slowly, twisting my palms back to the original position as I go. I perform two to three sets of 12. For the next chest exercise I turn to my pull-up bar. Palms facing in, pull yourself up until your chest reaches the bar, then lower yourself slowly. Perform 3 sets of as many reps as you are capable of doing. My third chest exercise is the classic pushup. With hands shoulder width apart, body and legs straight, lower yourself with your arms until just before you touch the floor. Now pushup. Again, do 3 sets of as many reps as you can perform.
When it comes to leg workouts, there is nothing better than lunges. Grab a dumbbell in each hand and step forward allowing your back leg to bend until the knee rests on the floor. Now step forward again until the other leg becomes the back leg and the knee lowers to the floor. Lunge 15 steps forward and 15 back. Perform at least 3 sets. If you have any leg strength left afterward, you can perform Medicine Ball Jump-Shots. Hold a medicine ball in both hands in front of you. Bend at the knees and touch the medicine ball to the floor. Now explode upright into a jump-shot as if shooting a basketball at the net. Come back to the squat and touch the medicine ball to the floor again. Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions.
A healthier, longer life in a short amount of time
My routine can be done in 30 minutes or less a day. Since I divide my time between working and raising my family, this routine allows me to be a Dad, a husband, and a professional while still fitting into my old jeans on the weekend.