How To Stay Active When You Really, Really Don’t Want To

Five Reps

That’s the secret. Just five reps. Seems too simple but trust me.

Over the past few weeks even I, a trainer that works at a gym, have slacked on my fitness. I demonstrate the routines for my clients but that’s it. My stamina has waned dramatically and all the processed food isn’t helping. I’d eat fresh but we only go grocery shopping when we absolutely need to and when we (by that I mean I) do, we get weeks’ worth of food at a time.

I know that it is tempting to do a big workout where you go all out for over an hour when you’ve been off the wagon for an extended period of time. I did this in early college myself. There are some major draw backs. Your chance of injury is way higher. When you go that hard you get sore, making you more likely to put off the next workout. It becomes a cycle. Don’t workout for weeks. Overdo it. Get sore. Put off the next workout for weeks. Repeat.

There has been research that shows that six minutes of intense exercise a week is all it takes to increase stamina, VO max, and reverse some signs of aging. Thirty seconds of going all out (running, biking, rowing) followed by one to two minutes of rest for a total of six minutes of going all out was the formula used in one study. ( You may think that’s all you need. This is great news for aging but this doesn’t mimic day to day life. We still need endurance training.

For those of us that have spent most of quarantine reading and watching T.V. it means we have some catching up to do. I’ve found that doing five repetitions of an exercise whenever I think of it helpful. When I go outside to read, I’ll do five lunges with knee ups before I sit down. Before I go back inside, I’ll do five torso twists. When my meal is warming up in the microwave, five squats. Brushing my teeth, five leg raises.

It isn’t much but that’s the point. These bursts are so small, so easy that it’s hard to convince yourself it isn’t worth it. By the end of the day you’ll have done an entire workout.

The plan is to start with bursts of five reps and move up to ten reps. After that, two exercises that work different planes of motion or different muscles back to back. This will lead to doing short rounds. Three to four exercises ten to fifteen reps each. The rounds on their own won’t be enough to build up a sweat but when I graduate to doing full workouts I won’t be as winded. I’ll gradually work my stamina back to where it was. If that isn’t the end goal for you, that’s fine. Just do five reps when you can. It is easy to slip out of routines and let ourselves take time off from those disciplines that we don’t overly enjoy. We need to remember that we committed to them for a reason to begin with. So, five reps. We can do that.

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