When the gym isn’t an option, how do you stay in shape?
In this podcast, I’m sharing practical, science-backed strategies for keeping your fitness on track anywhere, anytime.
From enhancing your daily steps to nutritional tips, mastering home exercises, and even implementing a standing desk, you’re going to gain a new perspective on fitness that you can adopt no matter where you are.
Tune in to level up your fitness adaptability!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
0:23 – It’s easier to maintain than to gain
1:22 – 10,000 Daily Steps
4:39 – Push ups and Pullups
5:38 – Sprints
7:01 – Handstand Pushups
7:53 – Pistol Squat
8:43 – Mile Time
9:29 – Rope Jumps
9:56 – Plank Times
10:09 – Flexibility
11:10 – Rucking
Mentioned on the Show:
The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation is a bestselling fitness book that helps you overcome the mental blocks that are keeping you unmotivated, unhappy, and unhealthy.
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Ola Mi Amigo, which is about all I remember from high school. Spanish. I am Mike Matthews, and this is Mus for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a short episode. Short and snappy. Like a visit to the proctologist said the Twitter jokester. And in this episode I’m gonna give you some tips for when you can’t get into the gym for a bit.
The first thing I want to share is some good news. Fortunately, it is way easier to maintain your fitness, to maintain your health than it is to improve your fitness and your health. Way easier than many people think. It really only takes a couple of hours of huffing. And puffing per week to basically maintain all of your muscle, maintain most or all of your strength, and to maintain your cardiovascular fitness, you should be doing a little bit of additional work for that.
And if you do those things, you can maintain a lot of. Your health. You also do want to eat well, of course, but if you can maintain your fitness, that goes a long way toward maintaining your health. And so I wanna share some prs that you could work toward at home or maybe on the road. And these things should hold you over until you can get back to the iron or get back to your normal.
Routine. So the first one is daily steps. I might as well just get this out of the way because everybody talks about it, but there’s a, a good reason why a lot of people talk about it because the 10,000 steps target I is more marketing than anything else. You can’t really say that’s an evidence-based prescription, but it does represent about an hour and a half to maybe two hours of walking.
Per day. And that goes a long way toward maintaining your body composition. That’s gonna burn hundreds of calories and it’s going to primarily burn body fat, which is nice, and it is very low impact. It doesn’t require anything in the way of recovery. In fact, it can even enhance recovery from your strength training, your heavier, more intense training.
It also can be great for your mood. It also makes sure that you don’t just. Sit in a chair working for 8, 9, 10, whatever hours per day, which is very unhealthy. And just to clarify there particularly, what’s unhealthy with sitting is to sit for long stretches of time. So to sit for four hours straight and then just get up maybe.
Go to the bathroom and then sit back down and not move for another four hours, for example. And then maybe you walk around a bit to get some food, eat some dinner, and go to the couch and sit for another couple of hours. And so if you’re sitting for 6, 8, 10 plus hours per day and you have these long stretches of sitting.
That’s not healthy. If you have to sit a lot like I do. I mean, I suppose I, I could get a standing desk so I could alternate between sitting and standing. Standing desks are not a magic bullet per se, but they can help you sit less. So maybe you spend half of your day sitting and then half of your day standing.
I did have a standing desk in the past and I did like it, but I found that when I was doing work that required. Uh, focus and required thinking like, quote unquote deep work to use Cal Newport’s term. I didn’t like standing. I, I preferred sitting. I found that I could more easily get into that flow state when I was sitting than when I was standing.
And I’ve seen other people on the internet say the same thing. I, I haven’t looked into, there’s probably just a basic physiological reason for that. I haven’t looked into it, but that was something that I noticed. So when I was doing my writing, for example, I’d like to be. Sitting and then when I was doing more routine tasks that didn’t require deep, uh, intense concentration, like doing email and answering slack messages and so forth, then I would stand.
And so that’s an option. Another option though, what I do now is I just make sure that I’m getting up every 90 minutes or so and I go for a walk in the morning. And then, uh, I go for a walk also around 12:00 PM and then I go for a walk, at least one walk in the afternoon. These are about 15 minute walks, and in between those walks, I’m making sure that I’m just getting up from my desk and going to get some water or going to the bathroom, or if I have to make a phone call, I’ll take it standing up and I’ll pace around my house.
And so I, I’m usually not sitting for more than 60 to 90 minutes. At a time, and that’s what I would recommend for you is break up those periods of sitting. And so anyway, getting back to this daily steps PR to work toward, try to average at least 10,000 steps per day. Again, one and a half to two hours of walking around every day.
The next thing that you can do when you can’t get into the gym is work on your pushups and your. Pullups and if you’re a dude, a target to work toward a strong guy, relatively strong at least, can do at least 30 to 40 pushups in one set and probably 15 or so pullups, maybe as many as 20 pullups in one set.
That’s quite strong. And for women, you can basically cut those numbers in half. So tho those are the targets to. Work toward and remember, you can also begin with a regression, which is an easier variation of an exercise like the negative or the knee pushup if you need to. And then you work on that regression until you can do usually around 15 reps, maybe 20 reps.
Once you can do 20 reps of a regression, you should switch to a slightly more difficult version. So if you’re starting with the knee pushup and you get up to 21, set of 20, you probably now can do regular pushups and it might. Cut your reps in half, but you’re working. You’re getting there. Okay. The next tip is sprints.
And so there are a couple of standards that you can work toward. However, one that I like in particular is the 10 by one standard. So here’s how that works. You do ten one minute sprints at 90% of max effort, followed by. One minute of active recovery for a total of about 20 minutes of exercise, and you can do that, uh, on a bike.
That’d be my preference, like an upright bike or a incumbent bike. You can also do it on a rower. You could go in a pool and swim. Those are no impact options that I prefer because if you are running on concrete, it can be fun, but a lot of impact and you’re gonna be quite sore and it really cuts into recovery from your strength training if you wanna go outside and run or if that’s your only option, if you can run up.
A, it’s gonna have to be relatively inclined, not too steep, but a grassy hill can be great. So sliding incline, grassy Hill is gonna be a lot less impact than running on concrete. Another standard, if the 10 by one is too easy for you, if you are already too fit, is the four by four. So this is. Four, four minute sprints at 90% of max effort, followed by about three minutes of active recovery for a total of about 28 minutes of exercise.
So if 10 by one is too easy for you, go for the four by four, or if 10 by one is difficult, and you work on that for a bit and that gets pretty easy, then move on to the four by four. Next up on my list here is handstand pushups. Now, You are strong, if you can do one set of 10, so that’d be for men, five for women reps, and you’re probably the strongest person in your social circle.
Maybe the strongest person in your gym, at least when you go. If you can do one set of 20 to 30 reps, that’d be for men, or 10 to 15 for women, and certainly you’re the strongest person in your gym. If you can do a set of 40 for men or 20 reps for. Women in one set, and you might have to work with a regression.
You might have to start there like the incline pike pushup or the pike pushup, or a decline pike pushup to be able to do the handstand pushup. But again, that’s fine. Just work with the regression that you can do at least probably 10 reps of work on that until you can do 20 and then move to the next most difficult regression until you are doing a handstand pushup and bang away.
Next up we have the pistol squat. Now one set of 10 reps for each leg is respectable. Uh, 10 to 20 reps is very strong, and 30 plus reps is tops. Again, those are numbers that are more applicable to men than women. For women, you could cut those in half, and if you can’t do at least one rep, definitely start with a regression like the Bulgarian split squat that works great, or just the regular split squat, the shrimp squat, or the assisted pistol squat.
That’s also great if you’re having trouble with the balance. You have the strength, but not the balance. That’s what I would run into because I don’t do pistol squats and I don’t have bad balance, but they require a special type of balance. You have to calibrate your brain to be able to do that exercise properly, and the assisted pistol squat is great for that.
Alright, moving on. We have mile time. Beginners can run a mile in about 10 minutes. Well-trained runners can do it in about six minutes. So how do you measure up? And what about your running form? Because just as with weightlifting, less weight, better technique is always better, right? Than more weight and worse technique.
Running is similar, less running, better technique is better than more running with bad technique. Now what is good technique? Well, Basically what it looks like is your legs are underneath you, your shoulders are down and relaxed, your chest is up, your back is straight, and your strides are short. There’s more that you can learn about running efficiently and effectively, but that’s a crash course that’s running 1 0 1 book round.
Online though if you want to get into the details. Next. Number seven is rope jumps. So the first milestone to work toward is one set of 100 basic jumps, and then you can learn to incorporate other techniques like the boxer, skip the crossover, the double under, and you might find that you really enjoy it.
Some people love rope jumping, and they love. Learning new techniques and combining techniques and using it to improve their cardiovascular fitness, and who knows, that might be you. Alright, next we have plank time. So the average college aged athlete can hold a plank for about two minutes. Can you do better?
That’s the first milestone. Two minutes, but if you work on it, I bet you you can do better now. We have flexibility, something that many people neglect, and that’s okay. In some cases, at least, it’s okay to neglect their flexibility because actually they’re quite flexible because they lift weights correctly and they don’t have any, uh, restrictions that are impairing flexibility.
But many people also have impaired flexibility and they should be working on it because it will improve their weightlifting. It will reduce the risk of injury. It will, in some cases eliminate pain or prevent pain, and it will. Improve function and longevity. And so if you want to start working on your flexibility, I have two challenges for you.
The first one is achieving excellent results on the sit and reach and the apli. That’s a P L E y. Scratch tests. You can look at those online as well as working to get as close to a front or side split or both as you can. Those challenges taken together represent outstanding whole body. Flexibility last on my list.
Number 10 is rucking. Very simple. Throw something heavy in a backpack and walk for a while and you are rucking. And if you want to make it even more challenging, do it uphill. Now start with just 5% of your body weight and if you work your way up to about 20% of your body weight. And if you can do that for an hour, especially if a lot of that is uphill, you are in fine federal, my friend.
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All that is why I’ve sold over 60,000 copies of the Little Black Book and why it has over 1004 and five star reviews on Amazon. And you can find the little Black Book of Workout Motivation on all major online retailers like Audible, Amazon, iTunes, Cobo, and Google Play. Well, I hope you liked this episode.
I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.
And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, Mike. Muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com, and let me know what I could do better, or just what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.