The problem is that many people find doing exercise tedious or unpleasant. In this post, I present the strength training portion of my program that will give you the maximum benefit in the minimum time.
Up until you’re 30, your muscles get bigger. Then, if you don’t use them, they get smaller. You can lose 5 percent of your muscle mass every decade from age 30 onward.
To keep your muscles, you have to do some form of resistance training. You could go to the gym, or try what I do, which is a simple regime designed to be done anytime, anyplace, anywhere. With my plan you exercise as many major muscle groups as possible, and alternate between them, so the ones not being worked get a bit of a rest. I start with push-ups (working the upper body), then follow these with something that works the core (abdominal crunches) or the legs (squats).
What I do is based on a paper in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, and I do it at least three times a week, first thing in the morning. It only takes a few minutes. My favorite exercises are push-ups, squats, abdominal crunches, the biceps curl, and the plank.
Push-ups. Get into a push-up position with the palms of your hands under your shoulders and the balls of your feet touching the ground. Keep your body straight. Lower your body till your elbows form a 90-degree angle and then push up. If you find this too hard, do it with your knees on the ground.
Squats. Stand with feet apart. Bend from the hips, keeping your weight on your heels. Make sure your back is straight. Keep bending until the legs are at a 90-degree angle—imagine you are preparing to sit in a chair. Push back up without bending your back. Squats work the biggest muscles in your body. If you want to make this harder, add weights.
Crunches. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and your hands by the side of your head. Curl up your upper body without lifting your lower back off the floor. Make sure your chin is tucked in toward your chest. When your shoulders and upper back are lifted off the floor, curl back down.
Biceps curls. This requires a small handheld weight. Stand with feet apart and hands by your side, with one hand clutching the small weight. Then, with your arm kept by your side, raise your hand by bending your elbow. Transfer the weight to your other hand and repeat.
Plank. Lie on the floor and then raise yourself onto your forearms and toes so that your body forms a straight line from head to toe. Make sure your midsection doesn’t rise or drop. Squeeze your buttocks and hold the position for as long as possible. Remember, this position should never cause pain in the lower back.
I suggest you start in week one of the diet by doing one set of 10 repetitions of each of these (with 20-second holds on the planks): 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 crunches, 10 biceps curls, and 10 planks. Do this three times in the first week.
Aim for two sets of 10 repetitions in the second week, and three sets by the fourth week.