No Sweat Workouts! Why You Don’t Need to Be a Mess to Get Fit

photo by xannah

When do you begin to sweat?

There are many answers to this question, because it varies from person to person. The climate and the clothes you are wearing also play a role, but it’s an important point for you to figure out.

Why should I care about sweat point?

Sweat, by definition, is the brain’s reaction to your body beginning to overheat. Something I was curious about was how fast, and how hard I could workout without hitting my sweat point. That’s why we came up with this literal term:

No Sweat Workouts

Wait… isn’t the point of exercise to sweat?

Yes, if you have the time and access to the shower. But we have all been in situations where we just want to move a little bit at work, before leaving the house, or in other short bursts. When you know what your sweat point is, you can figure out how many small movements can be done before becoming uncomfortable at home or work.

Ladies, I’m sorry to tell you, but it looks like women actually sweat a little more than men during high-tempo exercises. But remember, many factors impact a person’s sweat point, including biological and environmental. You’ll sweat faster outside than inside an air-conditioned room. You’ll sweat faster in work clothes than breathable exercise clothes.

For example, if your sweat point in work clothes is 10 minutes moving at a moderate pace, then you can go for a 10 minute walk after lunch. For higher tempo exercises, like burpees, it may only be a few minutes. If your sweat point in the house is 5 minutes at a high tempo, then you can listen to a good song while doing pushups and squats.

Single plane movements (up and down or side to side) like pushups are less taxing than multi-plane movements. I personally like to do a mixture of hi-tempo movements with low reps, and single-plane movements at a slow, challenging pace.

Here’s a quick example of a No Sweat Workout!

Timer set for 7 minutes, AMRAP

  • 5 pushups – 5 seconds up, then 5 seconds down
  • 10 squats
  • 3 burpees
  • 20 second count on bridge

I really focus on form, my breathing, and stretching my body out with each rep. These no sweat workouts serve the purpose of giving me a quick boost of energy, stress relief, and focus. It may also be that I haven’t scheduled well enough to give myself a proper workout, and this is better than nothing!

photo by zoofytheji

Short workouts may seem unnecessary and unhelpful, but there’s a growing body of research that is showing the benefits. It’s easy to make the excuse of thinking “I don’t have time” or “A 5 minute workout isn’t worth it.” But when we take the time to consider the benefits of movement, the inverse almost seems silly in comparison. “I can get all the benefits of being happier, productive, and less-stressed, just by moving around a bit!?”

In fact, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have shown the cumulative effects of bursts of movement throughout the day can be very effective.

In the study, two groups of middle aged women were told to exercise for a period of 20 weeks. Both groups were told to workout five days each week, for 20-40 minutes. The difference was that one group needed to complete their workout in one 30 minute session, while the other group was asked to complete three 10-minute sessions throughout the day. After 20 weeks, the multi-session group finished the study with a 39% greater weight loss than the single-session group!

Any kind of workout is great, but no longer do we need to believe that unless we can get that 20-30 minute workout in, we don’t have time. If you are literally telling yourself that you don’t have 5 minutes to spend on making yourself healthier, then you need to look at how you’re spending your time.

All we’re talking about here is simply finding your body’s threshold of sweat. Finding your sweat point allows you to do mini-workouts and movement that will keep your body firing on all cylinders. To help you get started, here are 5 workouts you can do in 5 minutes, and likely keep yourself from reaching your sweat point.

All workouts are timed for 5 minutes (increase as your sweat point goes up). Set your watch or phone and get going!

No Sweat Workouts: Morning

Workout #1

5 pushups

5 one-leg side jumps (each leg)

5 bent-over rows (with weight or using the table)

Workout #2

5 burpees

10 abs

5 lunges (each leg)

No Sweat Workouts: Lunch Break

Workout #3

5 table pulls

10 side lunges

5 pushups

Workout #4

10 squats

10 dips

3 pullups (find an overhang around your building, or nearby park)

Workout #5

Sun Saluations

Illustration by Maggie Miller

We Got The Beat-Workout #72

1e7bf7f7c9479b355c261c0d2155a89fHave a Great Workout! Let us know how you did. If you are more experience do this more 3x thru, beginners try 1x and see how you feel.

3 Rounds for Time

  • 10 Elevated feet push ups
  • 20 Mountain Climbers
  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 20 Star abs
  • 10 Tricep push ups

Round & Round – Workout #71

thesimplegym71I hope every one had a great weekend. It has been raining non-stop here! Sometimes it’s nice to lounge around inside for a bit, but I’m ready to get out! We hope you enjoy the workout where ever you are.

Total Time: 15 minutes

Work for 45 seconds/rest for 15 seconds

  • Weighted Frog Jumps
  • Tap Downs
  • Push up knees to elbow
  • Ab Leg Downs
  • Sumo Squats with leg kicks

Time Crunch- Workout #70

e5fa24174a9d36e593ce128163c7685fWe all have those days, in fact, I had one yesterday. The days when we just don’t feel very productive (physically speaking). That is what inspired me to create this kind of workout for you. These are great “time crunch” workouts! I don’t like sitting, and when I feel I have done too much, it helps my mind when I move a little bit. I try and set a timer of how much I am going to sit at one point. Once it goes off, I get up! Try one or all of these workouts throughout your day. Do as many rounds as you can in the allotted time.

7 minutes total time

  • 10 Tricep push ups
  • 10 Dips
  • 20 Squats

8 minutes total time

  • 50 Jumping Jacks
  • 30 High Knees
  • 50 Touch downs

9 minutes total time

  • 15 1/2 burpees
  • 20 Scorpion kicks
  • 10 Wide leg push ups

Good Morning Workout #69

I used to struggle with working out in the morning, because I didn’t like to think about what I was going to do. I enjoy easing in to my day, many of you may feel the same. I don’t want to be stressing out over what a good morning workout will be.
good morning workout
In starting the Simple Gym, and writing several workouts a week, that’s not a problem any longer. But there are still several days a month I do this specific workout, usually on the weekends. It has become my go-to good morning workout!

Good Morning! Workout

3 Movements for 12 minutes – AMRAP

  • 10 Burpees
  • 10 Squat to Overhead Press
  • 20 Ab reps

AMRAP – As Many Rounds As Possible

If you can’t see the video on email, click here!

These three movements combine to work every muscle group in a significant way. The lower body is engaged through the burpee’s foot hop and jump, along with the squats. The upper body is engaged through the burpee pushup and overhead press. The core is engaged throughout the workout, but is really targeted during the ab movements.

The key here is to pick 1-2 workouts that are awesome by default. Workouts you can do without thinking, planning, or worrying. I always keep the time under 15 minutes, because anything more earns a bigger excuse in my mind. I always choose time for my standard good morning workout. A workout with a task-based result can take much longer than you planned! Morgan didn’t realize that workout #68 would take 27 minutes for the advanced group! Pick a time and work hard, push your limits, and then be finished.

My best days are when I make the commitment to work out in the morning. I can’t offer any evidence beyond my own awesome feeling, and that’s not good enough! We’ll dig in to the science behind this later on, the research is pretty cool. But I would encourage you to try working out in the morning if you don’t already. Do you feel a difference in your day? Let us know in the comments!

Billionaire Richard Branson’s Shares His #1 Productivity Secret

A small group of business owners and entrepreneurs sit impatiently, waiting for Richard Branson’s productivity secret.

“Richard, how do you stay so productive?”

“I work out.”

That’s it. No weird smoothies, supplements, or mind hacks. Work out.

Watch it here.

This isn’t just a random video from someone’s phone. Richard has talked about how strongly he believes in working out with Inc, and even brags about it on his blog. He has started over 400 companies, most notably Virgin (music, mobile, air), and could easily be one of the busiest people on the planet. Yet, he credits working out as his biggest way to stay productive and healthy.

Richard Branson's Productivity SecretIf one of the world’s richest and most productive people can find time each day to work out, maybe we can start to push ourselves a little bit more in terms of physical fitness. Many of the world’s most powerful and productive people make sure they take time each day to focus on their bodies and energy.

Realize that the majority of them are not professional athletes, and are just as time-crunched as you and me. It’s not uncommon to see a boost in personal fitness correspond with productivity. People begin running half-marathons, cycle 50 miles, join CrossFit, or sign up for the Simple Gym.

A 2011 study even showed that employees could work out on company time. They showed no loss in productivity compared to employees who weren’t exercising, but working more hours! This flies directly in the face of our tendency to believe that more hours = more productivity.

Tony Schwartz goes to so far as to say that we have the whole idea out of whack. He is famous for saying, and practicing, this mantra.

 Manage your energy, not your time.

Forward thinking companies like 37Signals and Buffer are becoming famous for making this a part of their company culture. The answer to a problem is rarely to sit at your desk or stare at the computer screen. Managing your energy, the amount of brain power you can throw at a problem, is usually not found in the same place you’ve been for the past several hours.

Richard Branson’s Productivity Secret isn’t a Revelation…

…and isn’t that a good thing? The answer to solving those problems and boosting your productivity is simple, but challenging. Start working out, go exercise, dial up one of our workouts, or even just do 10 pushups. Just start moving. Want to know what happens when you start moving, what triggers in your brain?

It turns out that just 20 minutes of walking gives you a boost of happiness, increase your lifespan, and lower your risk of disease. The cost/benefit almost seems absurd, yet we struggle with it. John Medina, author of Brain Rules, gives strikingly similar advice. In fact, he lists exercise as the #1 Brain Rule, because it boosts brain power.

The optimal environment for processing information would include motion. That is exactly what one finds. Indeed, the best business meeting would have everyone walking at about 1.8 miles per hour.

Imagine groups of executives walking around town, having their high-powered meetings. People would be less likely to nod off, that’s for sure. From a productivity perspective, exercise increases oxygen flow to the brain, which always increases mental activity and sharpness. Medina himself isn’t what you would call a fitness buff, but makes time every day to at least go on a 20 minute walk. It seems even neuroscientists need to stay fit and boost their productivity!

So with all of these examples from billionaires and brain scientists, why do we have such trouble getting on board for a workout routine?

Our Definition of Exercise is Wrong

cap-pushupWe often equate exercise with the big box gym, treadmills, machines, and heavy weights. Cleanse your mind of this picture. Exercise is movement, period. When you were a kid, playing outside was exercise, climbing trees, riding a bike, or whatever got you moving. While the loss of unstructured play is one of the great losses of growing up, it’s not all gone. Going for a walk, playing with your kids, taking the stairs, parking far away, all of these little choices accumulate towards making you a little healthier.

I know having kids changes everything in life, but it’s actually a great opportunity to re-frame your definition of exercise while showing your kids a great example of how important moving is. Your kids probably won’t care to do burpees with you, but they can kick the soccer ball, wrestle, you pick!

We Have High Expectations

Setting goals and having high expectations are not bad things, but they can be an obstacle to starting your workout plan. It’s easy to forget that 1 > 0. Doing anything is better than doing nothing. So if you find it difficult to stick to a workout routine, the answer is probably to start smaller. Instead of a 20 minute run, try 5. A 10 minute workout becomes 4 minutes, or the length of one song. Don’t think about running a 10k, just run around the block.

Congratulate yourself at the end! A little celebration will teach your brain that what just happened was a good thing, and worth doing again. High-five yourself, raise your arms above your head like Steve Holt, or a little fist pump will do the trick.

We Make Excuses

It’s too cold, too hot, I’m tired, there’s not enough time, my workout clothes are dirty, my shoes are too tight/loose, too early, too late, and more. Leo Babauta of Zen Habits obliterates your excuses in this challenging post. He makes it clear that fit, productive people have many or all of the same challenges as unhealthy people. The key is to realign your priorities and start small enough to make it a habit.

It’s Uncomfortable

6a00d83451b31569e20120a646d8d7970b-320wiAnything that pushes you is uncomfortable. New jobs, new friends, new cities, new ways of living. Our brain is entrenched in the status quo, and is perfectly happy staying there. The cool trick about the brain’s love of routine is that it can be re-wired to be in a healthy routine just as easily. Our challenge is to push through the initial discomfort until we reach a new bliss, where we’ve killed the lizard brain and created a new way of thinking and acting.

Richard Rohr, a Fransciscan priest, likes to say:

We don’t think ourselves in to new ways of living, we live ourselves in to new ways of thinking.

Time is Short

This is understandable, to a point. One of the reasons I stopped going to CrossFit was because of the time it took. 30 minute drive, 30 minute workout, 30 minutes back – I didn’t have 1.5 hours to dedicate solely to working out 4 days a week. Going to the gym is costly, both from a time and money standpoint. While that’s a fine reason not to go to the gym, it’s not an excuse to not exercise at all.

The Simple Gym exists to bridge this gap. Do one of the 65+ workouts we’ve written, or pushups, squats, burpees, jump around, or go for a run/walk/hike. We’re even working on a solid routine of 5 minute beginner workouts, to completely sweep away any of your remaining excuses.

Exercise is a one of the cornerstone habits in our lives, says writer and researcher Charles Duhigg. It’s a habit that jump-starts positive traits and actions in other parts of your life. You would be hard-pressed to find a more powerful way to boost productivity, feel better, be more energetic, and live longer.

So what are you waiting for?

Bartender! Another Round of Tabata! Workout #66

Another Tabata Workout

You know this is awesome. Share it immediately!

What’s that? A groan about having another Tabata workout?! A groan-inducing name should tip you off that a great challenge is ahead. I guarantee you’re going to feel great after finishing this killer workout!

To refresh your memory, Tabata is a 4 movement workout, with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest each round. Each movement includes 8 rounds, resulting in a 16 minute workout.

If you’re new to the Simple Gym, or haven’t worked out in a while, I recommend doing 6 rounds of each movement, resulting in a 12 minute tabata workout.

The 4 Tabata Workout Movements

  • Burpees
  • Box Jumps
  • Overhead Press
  • Dot Drills

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Try and get outside and do something new, or an activity you haven’t done in a while. Hiking, running, pick-up games, ride a bike, climb a tree. Ya know, something to entertain the neighbors. See you Monday!