So you want to know how to get fit fast for free which means either one of two things is true. You’re either already a gym bunny who’s always optimising
your workouts for the best results. Or you’re one of us who pays for the gym but never goes…
Apparently we waste £4 billion every year on gym membership in Britain because we’ll go anywhere except the gym! That kind of moolah could fund a lot of first-time buyer deposits. It also turns out that during pandemics none of us can go to the gym anyway.
Either way, I have a shedload of info to energise you while getting the best value for your money. I’ve mined the Channel 4 series How to get Fit Fast below to help find the right exercise for you.
Presenters Anna Richardson and Amar Latif made several episodes over the years to test the quickest ways to get fit. As ever, my priority while watching was to work out (heh heh) the most economical activities for the time poor. Why spend £40 or more a month to walk past the gym and not go inside? There are actually fun ways to stay active that cost nothing or next to nothing. I’d rather have money in my pocket, a roof overhead, AND be able to carry my groceries home without crying.
Here’s what I’ve covered below:
- Team sports
- Bulking and shredding
- Obstacle Courses
- Bodyweight training (calisthenics)
- Paddle boarding or “sup”
- Intense walking
- Hypoxic chambers
- Swimming and aqua sports
Also they investigated whether the time of the day we exercise makes sweet FA difference or not, and whether eating high protein is better than skipping the gym altogether. At the very end I’ve included a very special solution for the least motivated among us.
Are you jogging comfortably?
By the way…Hi, my name is Bear, and as you can guess from the list above, this is a long post. (I hope you’re jogging comfortably while you read this. Look out for trip hazards or low branches). If like me you have zero plans to ever run a marathon, have this marathon of a blog post instead.
Disclaimer: I’m not a personal trainer, nutritionist, athlete etc. Speak to a doctor for professional health advice.
Besides the reaaaaaaaalllly long blog posts though, my job involves a lot of staring at a screen. Computer-based hobbies and recapping television shows like this one also add to the vast timespans I could spend just on my backside. I’ve popped some tips at the end that have stopped me leaving a permanent sofa dent. They also require zero coordination. You know that stererotypical rom-com chick who walks into things and falls over a lot? I don’t know why they call it a stereotype because that really is my daily life, bruises and all.
Not all of the exercises are free, or cheap, and some of us might benefit from spending more than others. The other posts I’ve written so far mainly have first-time buyers and your savings in mind. If you’re saving for a deposit, then fitness might be an easy area for you to claw some money back. Especially if it’s an area where you tend to spend without getting the benefit.
If you want to catch up on the money blogs for first-time buyers I posted before this detour try the following:
However, if you faithfully attend the gym or pay to play sports when world events allow, then this is obviously a spending priority for you. You might want to look at other areas where you can save instead. We can have priorities besides saving for big goals like a house. If our spending in one category provides value, it’s not necessarily helpful to scrap that category.
We run into difficulty saving when we think that EVERYTHING is a priority, even our impulse buying. (By definition it can’t be otherwise we would have planned to spend that money in advance). Let me know in the comments if fitness spending is a priority for you. Or how have you made fitness a priority without spending a penny?
a.k.a. exercise for 45 seconds and rest for 15 seconds.
Can it be done for free? You betcha.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Indeedy.
Can beginners do it? Research suggests that the unfit actually burn more starting HIIT than the already fit.
Why is it effective? Similar to how a car uses more fuel if we brake/accelerate suddenly, it seems we use more energy to restart also. (Rather than if we keep running at a steady pace).
In a study, athletes burned 13 calories per minute doing HIIT versus 9 calories per minute running.
This first option assumes that we want to know how to get fit fast and lose weight. The solutions below focus on other important fitness measures too like stamina, strength, joint health, and posture.
2) Team sports
Can it be done for free? Potentially. Look for what’s on offer via local community centres, check the noticeboard in your nearest supermarket/library/newsagent, or jump on local Facebook groups.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? For most sports, yup.
Can beginners do it? Why certainly.
Why is it effective? Group exercise releases twice as many endorphins as exercising alone. This is supposedly because of the feeling of social connectivity and moving in unison i.e. rowing, aerobics. Also team sports mean you are more likely to turn up & not let your players down.
One study found couples who work out separately have a 40% dropout rate. Meanwhile couples exercising together had a 6% dropout rate.
Another study suggested virtual buddies result in 60% more exercise. So even if you prefer to workout alone, you can use an app to get the team effect.
Can it be done for free? Yes, although if you’re running wear trainers with decent cushioning and support.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? I haven’t been able to take a lift since watching the Final Destination trilogy, so make friends with stairs.
Can beginners do it? Put one foot in the other and then speed up. Voila!
Why is it so effective? If we’re talking just about how to get fit fast running versus other cardio, it’s argued we’re made for running. Otherwise we wouldn’t have evolved to stand upright.
Worried about your knees? Our body’s design can take more force than running. Bones need compression to keep them healthy, so weight bearing exercise is actually better for us as we age. If we don’t use ’em, lose ’em – people think they don’t want to run because they
are already stiff from doing too little.
What are the cons? Running injuries are from running too often with no recovery, or having problems with pronation/gait etc.
As with any exercise, what we eat has more impact on our weight than what we do. Most of us simply can’t burn off a chronic diet. Don’t expect a little cardio to mean you can eat anything and everything all of the time if your aim is weight loss.
Not sure how to fit running into the week? I argued in this post that more of us could become run commuters:
a.k.a Non exercise thermogenesis. a.ka. burning calories by being alive. Huzzah! My favourite kind of exercise.
Can it be done for free? I sure hope so.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Yes, siree.
Can beginners do it? Babies are pros at this.
Why is it so effective? There is a serious point here which is we can stay fit doing lots of things we might do anyway. These include ironing, vacuuming, sex, shopping, sex, dancing, sex, taking the stairs etc. I don’t know how sex ended up in this list so many times, but it’s definitely more fun than ironing.
5) Bulking and shredding
This is more a food and exercise routine in combination and it’s what fitness models use to look like superhumans (by someone’s definition). Basically they eat all of the things while weight training, and then drop their calories drastically while continuing to work out, in order to reveal the muscles.
Can it be done for free? Dear lord, good luck. The dude they interviewed eats 4-5000 calories per day when bulking up. He buys 42 eggs, 37 chicken breasts, 30 bacon rashers, 4kg potatoes, 2kg pasta, 14 bags of rice, 20 bagels, 1.5kg porridge, a bag of kale, a bag of spinach, a bag of peas, 4 pots of pasta sauce, AND protein shakes. He then has to lift a LOT of weights to convert all those calories and all that protein into muscle.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? If you’ve got to work out twice a day anyway, then a change of scenery might be good…The reason they weight train so frequently is because the weights create tears in the muscle fibres, and when protein rebuilds the muscle, it makes the muscle
bigger than before.
Can beginners do it? I mean, everyone starts somewhere I guess…? Models engineer the six packs you see on magazine covers for the day of the shoot. These aren’t maintainable every day. The male model they spoke to has to eat constantly to weight train two hours per day, six days a week. It can take a year to see the initial results.
Another model Billy Dee spends four months bulking. At the start of her shredding she’s 15% body fat which is already less than recommended. She eats only 1200 calories during shredding (chicken, salad, sweet potato, broccoli, eggs), so she feels constantly hungry because she also continues with HIIT, 50 minutes of cardio, and weights for six days per week. Most importantly if you are bonded to gin like me, there is no alcohol allowed.
I’m building a page on where to buy food ingredients for the best value, so subscribe to the mailing list if you want to know when that’s ready. I have more money-focused food and fitness posts coming too.
Can it be done for free? Aye.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? A mat is a good idea wherever you are.
Can beginners do it? Yup yup yup.
Why is it so effective? Yoga burns some calories during because it’s good for muscles, and they carry on burning calories afterwards. However, it’s not very aerobic compared to HIIT etc. It’s great strength training for your body and health overall.
7) Rowing (machines)
Can it be done for free? Not unless you already know someone with a rowing machine you can borrow. 80% of gyms have these, but only 1 in 4
gymgoers actually use them.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Machine rowing is for inside obv. However, since exercising in groups tends to be a good motivator, joining a rowing team has other benefits like getting outside and topping up your vitamin D. The only rower I know used to get up at 5am, so it depends on whether the times and temperatures work for you! You can’t pay me to be cold or awake or both that early in the morning. Have fun!
Can beginners do it? Yes.
Why is it so effective? Dr Cam Nichol is a junior doctor and an Olympic rower and trainer because it’s his mission in life to make us feel like underachievers. (I thought doctors never sleep? Perhaps that’s how he fits it all in?)He reckons 20 minutes twice a week makes a difference even if you don’t do any other exercise.
His tips to get the most out of the machine are to make sure to pull the rope from the cage as far back as possible. Some experts think this will be more beneficial than 20 minutes on a treadmill, so the show tested two dudes using both.
They burnt 300 calories rowing and 350 calories running. However, rowing strengthens your back, arms, heart and lungs…Overall it uses nine muscle groups, or 85% of the body’s muscles. The NHS recommend strength training and cardio exercise weekly, and rowing does both of these in one, so it’s a double whammy.
Can it be done for free? Whose bike are you planning on nicking?
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Erm, best left outdoors me thinks, unless you have a dusty exercise bike already.
Can beginners do it? You’ll want first gear, or no gears. The show suggests the more you weigh at the start of your fitness journey, the more you want to consider cycling over running to put less pressure on your joints. In a study, runner’s muscles were 90% more sore after training than the cyclists in the same study. Any trainers are fine.
Why is it so effective? They reckon men who cycle to work weigh 10lbs less than car commuters, women weigh 11lbs less, plus cycling instead of driving can save £1000 a year.
Weight is not the only measure of health. I like the sound of £1000 though.
Amar wanted to know if one cyclist could lose more weight than another through better technique. Revolutions need to be up to 90 a minute or above to burn fat. To achieve more power with less effort, the aim is to push forward when the pedal is at the top. Then angle your heel down like you would if scraping schiz off your shoe(!). Keep your touch light until the pedal is at the top again.
This should mean you can go faster for longer with less injuries. Using your core and keeping your back straight at speed will also burn more. You should feel muscles in use that weren’t before.
a.k.a. Low intensity steady state (as opposed to HIIT).
Can it be done for free? Yippity yip.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? If there’s space to put one foot in front of the other, then technically yes.
Can beginners do it? This is ideal. Search online for park runs locally, or go for a walk alone or with others.
Why is it so effective? Because it’s time consuming essentially. Professor Dylan Thompson (from the University of Bath) was researching people new to exercise. He theorised walking might be as effective as running depending on the distance covered. This is because the runner finishes sooner, so the walker exercises for longer.
Park runs are ideal…because you don’t have to run! One runner says it doesn’t matter how fast you go, you’re still faster than someone sitting on a couch! As mentioned above under #2 cardio, running at any speed is about 80% diet and 20% exercise; you can’t outrun a hamburger most days.
They tested whether we burn more on an empty stomach. In a previous wider study, Thompson found hungry exercisers burn twice as much fat. For the show, a pair of volunteers did a park run while starving and another after a 600 calorie breakfast.
The idea is we can only store so many carbs for energy, so when we fast, the body turns to fat for energy. Both volunteers burned at least twice as much fat when they were hungry as a bear. Your body should also continue to burn fat afterwards until your next meal.
My town advertises 5k routes which are handy for measuring distance, so see what’s available locally. There are also apps that will tell you how far you’ve gone.
The best results are if you do one hour three times per week, but something is better than nothing.
Can it be done for free? These are generally endurance events that you pay for, and the majority of competitors don’t…erm, endure! Any course over 90 minutes counts as an endurance event. This is one of the few types of exercise that’s actually designed for carb loading, so you’ll also spend more on food to make it through.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Emphasis is usually on the out.
Can beginners do it? Anyone can carb load the day before and have fruit and/or energy gels on the day to keep going… Whether you can tackle individual portions of the course if you aren’t very strong otherwise will depend on what the organisers have in store.
Why is it so effective? Like LISS, these can burn a lot simply because of the time involved. However, they are also not something you are likely to do as part of a weekly exercise routine. Unlike LISS, they’re not effective if you fast beforehand. You’ll very unlikely finish without energy which then defeats the objective.
They tested one competitor who ate normally before an event, and another competitor who had carb loaded. The carb loader had energy gels once an hour throughout the course. The other competitor was flagging after 3.5 hours(!) to the extent that he was slipping and falling over through lack of energy. (Three and half hours though! Go on, my son…)
Carb loading when it’s not needed for endurance will just turn into fat. Many of us would save our pennies if we swapped simple sugars for veg in the latter half of the day if we don’t need the energy. Especially if we’re paying for diet products or an unused gym membership as a result. Sweep the spare cash straight into a savings account.
11) Body Weight Training a.k.a calisthenics
Can it be done for free? Yup.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Double yup. Easy peasy to do at home.
Can beginners do it? Treble yup. There are over four million calisthenic posts on Instagram and it was the #1 world fitness trend at the time of filming, so it’s also super popular.
Why is it so effective? Just one session improves muscle strength so long as we exercise until we reach muscle failure. Reaching this point stimulates muscle to grow. 95% of us don’t do any specific muscle exercises, but the NHS guidelines say we should train our muscles twice a week. Here are the NHS exercises to get you started.
Anna had her muscles mapped with ultrasound pre and post workout. After only 10 minutes of calisthenics, the ultrasound showed her muscles were thicker.
Other sample exercises:
Wall sit for as long as possible
Leg lifts with the top of your back on a flat surface and your feet on the ground
12) Paddle boarding or “sup”
As in whassup motherlovers? No?
Can it be done for free? Doubtful. Unless you already own a paddle board.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? It looks more impressive on crystal clear seas in the sunshine, but can be done anywhere there’s water in the UK. Dress warm. Wetsuits ahoy. Doing it in the cold gives an incentive to use as many muscles as possible to avoid bombing in the water by accident though. A small choppy wave or bigger means it’s time to give it a miss.
Can beginners do it? Perhaps somewhere we can stand up in the water is a good idea if we’re not good swimmers (you will fall off). Amar thinks it would be an easy exercise to stay with because it’s more fun than work.
Why is it so effective? This can burn as much as 250 calories in 15 minutes according to research. This is because it requires a lot of balance just to stay standing even before you start paddling. (And like Amar said, it’s fun. We’re more likely to sustain exercise we enjoy).
Can it be done for free? Dust off any existing weights, or borrow them, or source from websites like Freecycle and Freegle. Otherwise you can try carboots or charity shops for cheap secondhand weights, or TK Maxx have the cheapest I’ve seen if you insist on buying new.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Anywhere you want to lug your weights, my love.
Can beginners do it? This is debatable; weigh in in the comments please (no pun intended).
Why is it so effective? Muscle burns more calories than fat at rest.
Dr Vicky Salem scanned Anna’s body mass and the body mass of gymgoer Faye who loves weight training. Faye was 70% muscle, and Anna was 60%. This was despite being the same weight (but different clothes sizes).
Faye used to eat 800 calories daily to be as skinny as possible, but shocker, it was depressing and she realised there was no end in sight. A bit like wanting more money no matter how much your earnings increase, wanting thinness for its own sake means some people will never be happy.
Faye stopped calorie restricting and started weight training. She put on a stone and a half, but was able to fit into her small clothes still because muscle takes up less space in our body. It’s not often that a new exercise regime means we don’t have to go clothes shopping…
a.k.a sprint interval training.
Can it be done for free? Yarp.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Yas queen.
Can beginners do it? This one is intense enough that it comes with a disclaimer to run it past your GP (no pun intended again. Who am I kidding, all of my puns are intended). I’m sure the good folk of the medical and fitness community would like me to reiterate that there’s a risk of injury with any of these shenanigans.
Why is it so effective? It works on the same principle as HIIT. They both increase our metabolism because we run out of oxygen quickly and have to draw on our energy reserves. This also means it keeps our fires burning after.
It also requires next to no time, so even someone with a lunch break of less than 10 minutes can exercise. Do 20 second bursts integrated with rest (also, consider getting a job with a proper lunch break, for realz).
For lunches longer than 30 minutes they recommend LISS. If it’s not feasible to get to the gym and change also, they say just hit the pavement!
For shorter breaks, try 10 minutes of HIIT. e.g. stair laps of 60 second bursts integrated with rest (not too much rest!)
The 3 methods could each burn between 260 and 300 calories despite exercising for different amounts of time. This is because the intensity of HIIT and SIT burns enough afterwards that it equates to exercising for longer at lower intensity.
Can it be done for free? Hm, do you have a skill or service you can trade for time at the nearest boxing club? The price of entry might be lower than your time is worth anyway.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Wherever you want to hang a punching bag.
Can beginners do it? Get in there! Even if you’re not interested in competing, learning the technique should enhance the results from a workout. Anna got her gloves on despite a manicure. The only thing that could stop you is if you have any rings that won’t come off.
Why is it so effective? Boxing combines cardio with strength and conditioning [so like rowing it’s a good all-rounder]. It’s also a double stress buster, so it’s ideal for emotional eaters.
Research suggests stress increases weight gain and makes us burn less. Chronic exposure to stress means stress hormones don’t return to their normal levels often. A constant state of fight or flight keeps cortisol high and continuously signals hunger to our brains.
Exercise provides a distraction and releases other hormones that reduce cortisol, plus it gives us a happy endorphin boost. Boxing provides an extra outlet as we can literally punch away any negative feelings without knocking anyone out.
An hour of boxing might burn 500 calories, similar to a 9km run.
16) Intense Walking
Can it be done for free? I think you know the answer to this one.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Ditto.
Can beginners do it? I should coco.
Why is it so effective? Well, it’s only effective if we walk fast enough to be out of breath, but still capable of conversation.
Aim for hills as uphill walking engages the same muscles as running. One hiker got a dog for motivation, but this is the expensive motivational route! Unless you know anyone who wants you to walk their dog.
If you DO use your gym membership or want to start, put a treadmill on an incline setting.
17)Gyms With Hypoxic Chambers
Can it be done for free? Maybe with a free trial pass?
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Nope.
Can beginners do it? Sure.
Why is it so effective? Hypoxic chambers aim to replicate exercising at high altitude which challenges our endurance and calories burned.
Amar burned 83 calories in 10 minutes on an exercise bike at normal oxygen levels. When he had to repeat it in a low oxygen room, he burned 100 calories. Less oxygen goes to the muscles, so we have to draw on our energy stores. This sounds similar to me to getting out of breath during HIIT though.
They think it helps us burn calories after we’ve stopped exercising also which also sounds the same to me as HIIT, SIT, LISS and weight training…all of which require less investment, so maybe save your cash and opt for one of these instead.
There’s also research that exercising at high altitude makes us less hungry compared to a normal workout. This is contrary to expectations because it feels like a lot of effort.
The show repeated a small example of this research. The volunteers ate 165 calories less at a buffet after high altitude exercise compared to a buffet after exercising at normal oxygen levels. They didn’t explain why they think this is though and they also didn’t go into what HIIT etc do to hunger levels. If you have any expertise on this, please comment!
18)Swimming And Aqua Sports
Can it be done for free? Unlikely.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? You’re most likely to be in an indoor pool.
Can beginners do it? Does the Pope have a balcony?
Why is it so effective? These are ideal for anyone with an injury as we feel the effects of gravity less while we float. At the same time the water provides resistance, so we have to work four times harder.
There are lots of water classes now like aqua Zumba or weight training. Aqua running doesn’t need a class; top football clubs use this for quick injury recovery. If you have a go at aqua running, don’t lean forwards so that your legs work without hurting your back.
The show tested swimming against various aqua sports:
- Treading water burned 57 cals in 10 minutes
- Aqua running burned 68 cals in the same time
- Front crawl burned 93 cals
- Breast stroke burned 114 cals
These were all different volunteers though, so I figure there will be some individual variation, no? Anyhoo, there’s no reason not to change it up and do a bit of all of these. Especially as the better we get at a stroke, the less calories it burns because we are too efficient. (That’s what he said…) The counteract to this is to either swim for longer or mix in other exercises.
Can it be done for free? Head to YouTube. Reformer machines in gyms create resistance, so they work on the same principle as pilates exercises done without a machine.
Can it be done anywhere indoors and out? Like yoga, you’ll be wanting a mat.
Can beginners do it? Absolutely.
Why is it so effective? This made Anna a centimetre taller after one class. This is because it lengthens the spine and our core, improving posture.
Sample exercises include the hundreds.
In a bit of a departure from their normal testing, they did a not very scientific experiment into posture and physical attraction. A non-verbal communication expert analysed a speed dating event for the show.
They planted a volunteer with a collapsed posture and a volunteer who sat up straight. The slumped dude appeared negative and uninterested. The speed daters scored him as low confidence and four out of six didn’t want to speak to him again. Four out of six DID want to speak to Mr Good Posture again.
This all rather implied that we should get fit for the sake of the opposite sex. How about getting fit for your own benefit? (And not being so heteronormative).
Phew! That’s all the type of exercises from the various episodes covered. If you’re still standing then congratulations, you’re slightly fitter than you would be if you’d read this far while lying down.
That leaves just a few things:
- What about the time of day we exercise
- What about high protein diets
- Anna and Amar’s final tips for success
- What they didn’t mention
- My tips
- The Not Drinking Game
What about the time of day we exercise?
According to the show we have chronotypes. These individual body clocks make us morning or evening people (amen, I am a night owl all the way, can’t you hear me hooting). Physiologist Gladys believes we are stronger in the evenings because our muscles have warmed up. Anna and two other volunteers had to jump in the morning and the evening to put this to the test.
They all jumped higher in the evening. Gladys also thinks hormones are in muscle-building mode in the evening whereas in the morning they are dedicated to breaking down muscles…Let me know in the comments if you prefer a morning or an evening workout and why.
What about high protein diets?
To test what effect protein has on hunger, the show split an office into two groups. The group given coronation chicken, crisps, and regular yoghurt were hungry again after a few hours and were twice as likely to want a snack than the other group. The others had a chicken salad wrap with nuts, veggies and a high-protein yoghurt, or 44.8g protein overall.
Both meals were 600 calories, but the first group only ate around 16g of protein. Research suggests doubling protein intakes actually helps us consume less calories overall as it reduces the desire to snack.
The theory is that it suppresses hunger hormones. So we can either divert our grocery shopping budget to foods higher in protein and cancel the gym membership. Or combine a high protein diet with actually moving our butts now and again.
Anna and Amar’s final tips for success
Put money in a swear jar if you skip exercise
Reward yourself (perhaps not with food??)
Buddy up or join a team
Or find a gym frenemy – exercise with someone faster/stronger than you
Remember fitness is 80% diet, 20% exercise
Get used to wearing sporty clothes
Warm up! Less injuries = less time sitting it out
Try food tracking or exercise apps like Zombies! Run!
Walk a dog. It doesn’t have to be your dog!
Use music for motivation
Do a new exercise every two weeks to avoid boredom (this blog post should help with that)
Take a digital detox
Fine Line by Sir Harry Styles puts a spring in the step, I find. (He’s not an official sir). Besides music for motivation, we can also use listening to our favourite podcast as incentive to get out and grab our headphones. Drop any podcast recommendations in the comments!
Regards the last tip, research suggests the more time we spend on social media, the more likely we are to be overweight. Cal Newport has the definitive book on this (listen to the audiobook while going for a walk!) Or walk to the library…
One last tip: Aim high. Research shows those with bigger goals were more likely to achieve them than goalsetters who gave themselves small milestones. I think this was how I saved my house deposit. When setting big goals, we still want to break it down into smaller milestones so that we have easy steps to tackle on the way.
My tips below might help with the planning ahead bit.
What They Didn’t Mention
Amar and Anna might be worn out, but I’m not.
Having a why
Work out why your health is important to you, and don’t lose sight of that motivation. A simple sense of self-preservation often isn’t enough. We don’t walk out in front of cars in the road, but we’ll skip exercise for months on end in the hope that we live a long and happy life regardless.
Is your why because being a Daft Punk song will give you the confidence to achieve other things? Or is your why so you can be around in future for the people you care about? Are you considering a fitness-based career? Or looking to make new friends who enjoy staying active as much as you?
There’s never a bad time to talk about suicide. It took no effort to write that sentence (I mean, my pinky hurts a little, but then I have been typing for several hours). It takes only a few words to ask someone how they really feel. By the same token, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are in need of a listening ear.
A different ability
How to get fit if we can only workout part of our body? Caroline Jordan focuses her YouTube videos around this. Presenter Amar is blind. He’s also an international tour guide and definitely reminds me not to use the word “can’t” frivolously when I’m just slacking.
Often associated with celebs and a price tag to match, a friend of mine attends a military-inspired boot camp in her local park for free.
Avoiding what doesn’t work
If you’ve done something on the list above before and you don’t remember enjoying it, it’s probably time to find something you do enjoy instead. It’s not effective if we quit after one session, no matter how many muscles we engaged.
Find something that makes you happy where the exercise is a bonus rather than choosing one of the above based on the potential for results. Doing something regularly that you like will get you results faster than not going rowing because you think it’s punishment.
Fast is relative
Some exercise gets results faster than others, but that doesn’t mean that our bodies magically maintain that level of fitness if we suddenly quit, or that it can’t take time to see drastic results if that’s what we’re going for.
If you want to know how to get fit fast in a week then do an awful lot of wall sits. That won’t help you compete in a run without training though. Realistically it’s going to take a little longer before you can go farther without getting out of breath. Basically, don’t start training for Kilimanjaro today if you’re due up the mountain next week.
How to set goals effectively
Be really specific about what you want to achieve. Also start super small. i.e. “I am going to do 10 minutes of HIIT as soon as I finish this blog post. If something else comes up that isn’t life threatening, I’m going to say no.” Mark an X for today on an offline or online calendar. Then “I am going to do 10 minutes of SIT during my lunch break tomorrow.” Keep marking those crosses and they will fuel you.
The next goal might be I am going to do 10 minutes of HIIT every lunch break. Create a plan B and C if your lunch break doesn’t happen, or you attend to something else (life-threatening, don’t forget).
Those bulking and shredding fitness models and ripped actors playing superheroes might be endangering their life. It’s typical for them to seriously cut their water intake before a shoot to make their skin thin and the muscles stand out. Even cage fighters under medical supervision have died while intentionally making themselves dehydrated before a weigh-in so that they can make a certain weight category.
The next time you see a photo of someone looking unbelievably fit, keep in mind they are probably gagging for a drink. Also mind that they wouldn’t have looked like that a day later.
Even if it is just on social media, they might have gone to this level of effort and treated it like a shoot. Don’t assume that they look that cut every day because hardly any one on the planet can sustain that look. As soon as they start drinking again (which they have to otherwise they’d DIE), those muscles hide away under a well-hydrated body.
Most of us don’t drink enough as it is. There are more benefits to drinking more water than there are to looking like Captain America or his twin sister for one day. Especially if it’s going to potentially harm you.
The show obviously focuses on “fit” in the sense of being able to climb mountains without getting out of breath. However, there are obviously lots of other measures of health. They mentioned food a bit, but nutrition is super important. I’ll have food-related posts soon that round up the many ways to eat all our vitamins without going bankrupt (or dying prematurely of boredom instead. Mm, broccoli…) Join the mailing list if you don’t want to miss out on any new posts on the blog.
I’m not qualified in anything except trivia on TV shows and Harry Styles perhaps (and even then, my memory for lyrics is pretty ropey). However, I have a teeny tiny bit of experience in trying to stay active without gaining a PHD in sports nutrition first. If you are often tethered to your laptop, your TV, or both, here’s what I do to stop rigor mortis setting in.
Clear a space somewhere in the room where you can rest your laptop and work standing for a while
Use TV ad breaks to do laps of the room, even if you fast forward the ads
If you’re watching something without ads, get moving every time the scene changes
Leave something you need in another room intentionally so that you have to get up and fetch it e.g. a drink, your phone
If you have stairs, the next time you go up or down, do a second lap for funsies
When stuck for a free YouTube workout try Joe Wicks or Zanna van Dijk. Joe is very beginner-friendly and has been making HIIT cardio videos for years. Zanna’s home workouts tend more towards intermediate level and are ideal for women who want to build strength while breaking a sweat.
If you have time for nothing else, do 10 of something, anything e.g. push ups, squats, mountain climbers, burpees – basically anything that gets you out of breath and uses more than one muscle group. Tomorrow do 20, 40 the day after, and so on…
If you spend too long driving weekly, I avoid this by walking everywhere that’s less than an hour away. I can spend this time listening to a podcast, making mental plans, or just zoning out mentally if I need to switch off. Could some of us earn more by working in that extra 20 or 40 minutes we spent on foot? Sure, but what’s the point if we immediately spend those earnings on petrol, or a gym membership because we never fricking walk anywhere? Know worra mean?
My final tip: Play The Not Drinking Game.
I’ve created a page for The Not Drinking Game. I’m impartial to watching Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, Buffy, Angel, Teen Wolf, and Vikings. If you’re a fan of any of these too then you’ll know there are certain things that come up again and again across episodes…
In the past I would have used these recurring character and story nuggets to fuel a drinking game. However, you can really use them as the catalyst for anything including exercise. Give it a try!
How To Get Fit Fast…For Free?
Some of the ideas featured seem to have the lowest barrier to entry (besides laziness). These require no equipment, not much space, and don’t require lots of technical knowledge.
How to get fit fast at home for free:
HIIT or SIT
Body weight training
The next easiest to do at home would be weights, yoga, and pilates because weights and a mat don’t have to be expensive. These one-off investments will still cost less than a monthly gym membership.
The outdoors ideas most likely to cost nothing were park runs (LISS), cardio, and intense walking. Include cycling if you own a bike and team sports depending on what’s available locally.
If you do have a fitness centre membership, make the most of it with the following:
- Jump on a rowing machine
- Go to a boxing class
- Dive in the pool
- Or seek out a hypoxic chamber
That leaves paddle boarding, obstacle courses, and bulking and shredding if you still haven’t found something you enjoy. Making room for these in a budget if you want to save will likely mean quitting spending in another area.
So what are you going to do today to get fit fast without hurting your finances? Let me know in the comments.
I hope this post either saves you some money, or helps you get better value for money from you current fitness spending. I’ll be doing more posts on how to save in different spending categories from now on, including more food and fitness. Join the mailing list for savings tips straight to your inbox and to make sure you don’t miss more posts like this in future.
If this was a nice interlude but you want to return to my usual programming, the property posts for first-time buyers are here.