2020 was rough. And so far 2021 hasn’t been much better.
See, I own a gym.
Like a lot of folks, I’m feeling anxious and nervous…
And the future of the gym is still very much in doubt…
I know I’m not the only one waking up in the middle of the night.
But in a way I feel like something good has come out of all the stress and uncertainty.
Because I rediscovered what made me fall in love with fitness in the first place…
In fact, in the late 2000s my nickname in the industry was the “Bodyweight Coach” and I still have a blog by the same name.
And over the past year I realized something…
Even though a lot of gyms around the world are still closed…
And some folks just really aren’t interested in going back to gyms anymore even when they do open…
It’s still possible to get results that are just as good from the comfort of home!
And in much less time than you think using the 5 simple steps below that have allowed me to get in the best shape of my life over the past year…
Despite all the stress. And even though I’m about to turn 50.
Keep Your Workouts Short (Maximum 21 Minutes a Day)
One thing I’ve realized as I get a bit older is that longer workouts don’t seem to work for me. And I’ve seen the same thing with clients.
Lockdowns and “stay at home” orders gave me the time to think about why…
And it started making a lot of sense when I remembered a key scientific study that looked at short intense workouts vs longer traditional workouts.
It’s actually a very famous study by Dr. Angelo Tremblay at the Physical Activities Sciences Laboratory in Canada.1
He divided the study participants into two groups…
One did traditional workouts that lasted 30 to 45 minutes.
The other did short interval workouts that lasted around 12 to 21 minutes.
He found that the short interval group burned twice as many calories…
And the interval group also lost 9 times more fat mass over the course of the study!
To me that sounds like a darn good deal.
And this past year I’ve been getting fantastic results by building my workouts around a maximum of 21 minutes of intense exercise per day.
Just make sure to warm up with at least 5 minutes of light exercise first.
Choose Full Body “Combination” Exercises
Tremblay’s study used bikes as the only form of exercise. But I’ve found that I can get even better results by choosing whole body “combination” exercises.
That’s because I can recruit more muscle fibres which requires more calories.
Plus, at the same time I tap more deeply into the nervous system by doing movements that require some skill and coordination.
This forces the body into something called neuromuscular adaptation. Essentially teaching the muscles how to coordinate with each other.
The more the body adapts to these complex movements, the stronger it becomes.2
Combination exercises may also do a better job at improving cardiorespiratory fitness because they recruit more overall muscle throughout the body which creates a better cardio workout.3
The videos on this page show some of the combination bodyweight exercises I recommend using.
Eat Carbs (At The Right Time)
It’s trendy right now to “cut carbs” in order to slim down. Unfortunately it can also be a very bad idea. Especially for folks over 40 who start dealing with a sluggish metabolism.
Carbs are not evil. Nor are they necessarily good.
The more physical activity you do the more carbs you EARN!
In fact avoiding carbs if you do a lot of physical activity can actually cause a number of problems including thyroid dysfunction.
A landmark study known as the Vermont Study found that a thyroid hormone called T3 is very sensitive to calorie and carbohydrate intake. When calories and carbs are restricted, T3 levels can be negatively affected.
The other important thing to know about keeping carbs too low, especially towards the end of the day, is it can ruin sleep.
See, keeping carbs too low can trigger chronically high cortisol. And this can definitely mess with sleep.
Which is why I recommend that even if you are completely sedentary you eat at least some carbs with your evening meal.
But my advice is to completely avoid carbs before noon so you can take advantage of the fact that your body moves into “ketosis” overnight…
Which basically means that it is primed to burn body fat for fuel when you wake up in the morning…
And by avoiding carbs until noon you can piggyback on that process for better results.
Don’t Cut Out Any Specific Foods
Eat whatever you want.
I know that sounds too good to be true. And obviously some common sense applies.
But completely cutting out specific foods or food groups is almost never a good idea.
It takes a crazy amount of psychological energy to avoid a food that you enjoy.
And studies show quite clearly that humans have a limited amount of the daily “willpower” that it takes to do something like avoiding a certain type of food.
Which means a bad day at work, a fight with a spouse, some bad financial news, or anything else that drains emotional or mental reserves can quickly lead to a “diet disaster.”
Now here’s the REALLY bad part…
Once willpower breaks, it’s like opening a floodgate. There’s no closing it.
I’ve seen folks who’ve been “good” on their diet for days, maybe even weeks. And then one bite of a “forbidden” food turns into a mindblowing binge.
It’s just not human nature to be able to stay away from a “forbidden” food for any length of time.
So my advice is to eat whatever you want. Aim for 80-90% “healthy” whole foods and don’t stress when you indulge in your favorite treats the other 10-20% of time.
Use “Superfoods” To Help Support a Healthy Metabolism
Superfoods have an unusually high content of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Antioxidants are natural compounds found in food that protect against the damaging effects of a process called oxidation.
Which is a harmful process that can break down cellular structures, such as membranes, fats, proteins, and even DNA in the body.
Oxidative stress happens when there is too much breakdown from oxidation and not enough antioxidants to clear the damage.
Scientists think when this happens it can speed up the body aging process and also cause more acute health issues.4
It can also affect the health of your mitochondria, which are what’s responsible for turning stored body fat into energy your cells can use.
That’s why I added Antioxidants to my daily routine to help mop up these harmful free radicals and give my body a fighting chance to reach optimal performance and health.
I take a special form of Turmeric that is known to help support healthy metabolism and energy.
I also enjoy pure Cinnamon because it is one of the most powerful ways to increase insulin sensitivity. When the body uses insulin more efficiently it is easier to maintain a healthy weight.
And finally I love Ginger because it helps me better digest carbohydrates. And like Cinnamon it also helps support proper insulin sensitivity.
There are other superfoods I use, but those are my staples that I take every day to help control the aging process and to get the most out of my exercise and nutrition.
My favorite way to get these into my diet every day is to just brew them up as a tasty cup of tea every morning.