Many if us want to get into better shape, but everyday life often gets in the way. Sometimes it’s work, while other times it might be the kids or other family obligations. Some days you’re just too tired or not motivated. You’ll find the time and energy one day and resolve to start working out regularly, and then a week goes by, and you feel like you’re starting over.
The key to breaking this cycle is making your workouts a part of your routine. We may give them little thought, but our daily habits define us. Short bursts of inspiration are of little help unless you build on them to form a healthy habit.
With that in mind, I want to share a new habit I formed arising from a minor annoyance in my morning routine. I recently moved into a new apartment, which I love. But one issue I discovered involved the shower in the master bedroom. It takes several minutes for hot water to reach the shower. Much longer than it took at my old place. So I found my self waiting in my birthday suit, trying to kill time while I waited for the shower to warm up.
I usually have plenty of energy in the morning, particularly after drinking my coffee and a small breakfast consisting of a granola bar. One morning I decided to do some pushups while waiting. I hadn’t done pushups in a while, even though it’s my favorite exercise, and my muscles felt stiff and creaky while doing them, but it felt good to work my muscles and get the blood flowing. I entered the shower slightly pumped up and I felt invigorated. I had also killed just enough time for the shower to warm up, so I had killed two birds with one stone.
I told myself that this might be the way to start doing pushups regularly again. I hadn’t done so in a long time, and age was starting to make me feel much softer than I liked. The next morning, I turned on the shower, and then did a set of pushups like the previous day, only this day I did a few more. I felt great again. Maybe I was onto something?
On the third day I pushed myself more and did a much healthier set of pushups. Now I really felt great. The stiffness was gone and the pushups felt very natural. My body was getting used to this again. And then, feeling energized, I decided to do some squats in front of the mirror. I didn’t use weights, but simply did ten squats, trying to focus on form. I felt even better and more energized than the day before, and while showering made the commitment to do this most mornings.
Soon this became a habit, and I slowly increased the reps and then started pushing to failure. I started the first day with ten pushups just to get my body moving. Now I regularly do a minimum of one set of 30. Some days I’ll push to 33 or 35. On weekends I’ll sometimes add a second set.
The squat exercises followed a similar pattern, starting with ten and quickly getting to sets of thirty or more each day.
In the second week I added two more exercises. I had some light dumbbells, so I did a set of curls standing in the mirror with one dumbbell in each hand. Again, I went slowly, focused on form, and started with low reps.
Then I added lunges. Just eight across the room, eventually working up to 16. Each day I record my reps in a notebook as part of the habit.
Now I have a regular morning workout habit that I do a minimum of five days per week with four quick exercises – pushups, squats, curls then lunges. I do one set of each, usually pushing to failure. The entire exercise routine takes barely more than five minutes, but I’m very pumped up with an elevated heart rate as I enter the shower, which feels amazing. With these simple exercises I’m working most of the major muscles in my body. In several weeks I’ve already seen a big difference in the size and definition of my arms and chest, and my legs feel much stronger as well. I can feel the differences in my posture and how I feel when I walk.
This routine is obviously easier to establish if you’re a bachelor living alone. Married guys have to take into account their wife’s morning habits, and many are dealing with kids as well. If your wife wakes up after you, it’s going to be very difficult to get into this routine. So married guys will need to improvise. Perhaps you can find another room in the house. Meanwhile, bachelors can take advantage of having your place all to yourself in the morning (unless of course you have some fun company).
Give it a try!