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Why pay expensive gym fees to get fit? Learn how to create a low-cost DIY workout plan that really works.
How amazing would it be if there were a place to get fit and meet every workout goal without paying gym fees or investing in expensive equipment? There is — it's your home.
Sample Cardiovascular Workouts
Let's start with what it takes to establish and maintain basic cardiovascular fitness: 150 minutes of moderate cardio each week or, for the truly time-crunched, 75 minutes of vigorous cardio. Here are three sample workouts to fit a variety of lifestyles: - The Busy Executive: Every weekday before work do a quick 5- or 10-minute warm-up, followed by a vigorous 15-minute jog. - The Industrious Student: Bike or walk to school, work and nearby errands — go fast enough to work up a sweat and a little out of breath. Not only does this add up to a great cardiovascular workout by the time the week is out, it also saves a ton on gas money. - The Weekend Warrior: Try one or two long weekend workouts with a favorite hobby, whether it's hiking, bicycling, swimming, or organized games like hockey and soccer. Wondering which activities count for cardio? Anything that gets large muscle groups moving rhythmically for at least 10 minutes fits into the cardio category; think swimming, walking, inline skating, a fast-paced game of Ultimate Frisbee and so on.
Don't Forget the Weight Training
Plan on working every major muscle group at least twice a week. The three most affordable — and effective — options for home strength-training gear are: Bodyweight resistance (requires only a pull-up bar), elastic resistance bands and dumbbells. For a complete full-body workout do two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions of each of the following exercises, twice a week — schedule at least one full day of rest time between the workouts. - Bodyweight only: Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, calf raises and planks. - Elastic resistance bands: Chest press, narrow row, squats, leg curls, calf raises, triceps extension, biceps curls and resisted crunches. - Dumbbells: Chest press, dumbbell row, squats, lunges, calf raises, overhead press and dumbbell pullover.
Beating the Plateau
Here are some extra tips to make sure this DIY workout plan leads straight to successful fitness goals: - Regular workouts build fitness. Don't be afraid to ratchet up the intensity as those challenging workouts start to feel easy. - Stuck at a plateau? Switch things up by adding more workouts, upping the intensity or changing activities. - Take at least one rest day. This gives muscles time to rebuild themselves, and reduces the risk of overtraining.
It's Really That Simple
All of these principles can be applied in the gym, too. But ultimately, it's not the gym or any other piece of equipment that makes a person fit. It's the willingness to dedicate a little time and a little effort to create a self-sustaining exercise habit.