The Return-to-Exercise Workout Plan

The Return-to-Exercise Workout Plan

A 30-day programme designed to improve overall fitness and get you back into a regular workout routine.

If you are not currently engaged in a regular workout regimen, it can be intimidating to attempt to jump back in at full pace and maintain consistency. How can we effectively re-establish a routine after a lengthy absence?

Jason Stella, CPT, PES, CES, national education manager for Life Time, argues that creating a vivid image of your future self is the most crucial place to begin any health and fitness programme. Stella has 28 years of experience working with clients. “Thereafter, an executable strategy that you find both hard and pleasurable is the most important factor in maintaining your workout efforts.”

To ensure your success, Stella devised this month-long cardio and strength-focused training regimen that can be followed by anyone, regardless of fitness level.

The Plan

This 30-day programme contains four weekly workouts. On days one and three, and two and four, you will complete the identical routine. (For optimal results, exercise two days on and one day off, followed by another two days on and one day off.)

Each workout comprises a 10-minute warm-up, 20 minutes of strength training, and 10 to 15 minutes of metabolic conditioning, for a total duration of 40 to 45 minutes.

The strength-training components are intended as total-body circuits, focusing on seven functional movement patterns that the majority of us perform daily: squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, rotation, and gait/walking/running. Increasing your ability to perform these motions throughout an exercise programme can translate into greater ease and comfort in many aspects of your life.

The metabolic conditioning portion consists of sprint interval training (SIT), which consists of short bursts of sprinting at near-maximum exertion. If SIT is performed correctly, it can improve body composition in a shorter amount of time.

SIT is distinct from HIIT, or high intensity interval training. The majority of HIIT programmes and workouts consist of high-intensity steady states (HISS). When HIIT was first established, it required 20 to 30 seconds of maximum exertion followed by 60 to 120 seconds of rest. This allowed the body to recover and exert another maximum effort during the activity. Yet, when rest is eliminated, interval training is replaced by high-intensity steady-state training.)

You should anticipate to observe gains in your functional performance of daily activities, muscle endurance, body composition, and general health after faithfully following this workout regimen for 30 days.

The Priming
Before each workout, perform five minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as running, biking, or rowing, at a low to moderate intensity, bringing your heart rate to between 65 and 75 percent of your anaerobic threshold (if using Life Time’s heart-rate zones, this would be at high zone three and low zone four). On the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale, it would be a seven to eight without a heart-rate monitor. This amount of exercise should induce heavy breathing.

After your cardio workout, perform “The World’s Biggest Stretch”:

Beginning in a plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders and your feet together. Maintain a straight line from your head to your heels with your body. Engage your core and do your best to prevent your buttocks from rising or sagging.
Step your right foot outside of your right hand to assume a low runner’s lunge stance. Maintain your right foot flat on the ground; if you have less flexibility, concentrate on keeping your heel from lifting.
Using your left hand as support, raise your right hand off the ground and bring your right elbow towards the inside of your right foot. Move your body gently from front to back and side to side until you feel a wonderful stretch in your hip and glute.
Gently raise your right arm and spin your torso to stretch your arm towards the ceiling, while expanding your chest to face your right leg. Your hips, glutes, back, and chest will experience a stretch.
Put your right hand to the ground and bend your left knee. To stretch your right hamstring, sit back on your left heel while extending your right leg in front of you.
Go forward and backward into a low runner’s lunge by bending the right knee and lifting the left knee off the ground.
Step your right foot back to return to the plank posture from the beginning and then exchange sides.
Do five to ten repetitions per side.

Physical Conditioning: Interval Sprint Training
After each strength-training session, perform this metabolic conditioning workout. Choose from the following exercise machines: an Airdyne or stationary cycle, treadmill, or total-body elliptical. Finish the following:

Warm up for five minutes with the goal of reaching 60 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Four sets of the following must be completed:
30 seconds of maximum exertion: Boost speed/intensity to run as quickly and as hard as possible (minimum level 8 on a max exertion scale of 10).
30 seconds of active rest: Decrease velocity/intensity to a slow pace, yet continue to move.
Get your heart rate down to 35 to 40 percent of your maximum for three to five minutes.

The Exercise: Days One through Three
Resistance Training
These workouts are divided into two circuits:

Circuit A: Do all four exercises consecutively, followed by 45 seconds of rest. Do a second set, then rest for 45 seconds before beginning Circuit B.
Circuit B: Do the three exercises consecutively, then rest for 45 seconds before beginning the second set. Before moving on to the metabolic conditioning section of the workout, take another 45 seconds of rest.
Tempo may be a strange variable if you’re new to strength training, but employing it can affect your outcomes. The four figures show the recommended time, in seconds, to complete each repetition. The first number represents the eccentric movement (dropping the weight), the second represents the pause between movements, the third represents the concentric movement (raising the weight), and the fourth represents the pause before the beginning of the next repetition.

For instance, for a tempo of 2020, you would perform the eccentric movement for 2 seconds, not pause before performing the concentric movement for 2 seconds, and then continue directly into the next repetition without pausing.

CircuitOrderMovement TypeExerciseSetsReps/TimeTempoRest
AA1LungeForward lunge21520200
A2PushPushup (modify as needed)21520200
A3PushDumbbell standing shoulder press21520200
A4Core/walkOne-arm kettlebell carry at shoulder230 seconds/armSlow and controlled45 seconds
BB1LungeSplit squat to one-arm shoulder press21520200
B2PushIncline press (with dumbbells)21520200
B3Core/walkFarmer’s carry230 seconds/armSlow and controlled45 seconds

A Circuit Does Forward Lunges

Maintain a tall stance with feet hip-width apart.
One foot forward while maintaining a proud chest and square shoulders over the hips.
Permit both knees to bend, with the back knee hovering slightly above the ground. (Modify the length of your stride as necessary.)
Maintain a straight line between your front knee and your middle toe. Be mindful not to relax the back leg towards the end of the exercise.
Reverse the action by applying pressure through the heel and stepping back to the starting position with the front foot.

Adjust to a knee pushup if necessary, and build up to as many conventional pushups as possible every set.

Adopt a high-plank stance with your hands slightly wider than your shoulder width, your arms extended (but not locked), and your body straight from your heels to your head.

With a straight body and a neutral head position, engage your core and squeeze your glutes. To lower yourself, bend your arms and retract your shoulder blades until your arms form 90-degree angles.
Reverse the action and return to the starting posture while maintaining a straight line from head to heels.

Standing Shoulder Press With Weights

Maintaining a shoulder-width stance, hold a dumbbell in each hand. Start with the dumbbells slightly below ear level and palms facing front.
Push both dumbbells as explosively as possible straight overhead while keeping your feet on the ground. Engage your abdominal muscles to maintain a neutral posture and a stable lower back.
Return to the starting position on a count of two.

One-Arm Kettlebell Shoulder Carry

To grip a kettlebell with one hand, stand tall and squat down. Raise the kettlebell to your shoulder and position it in the front rack (the bell will be resting against your wrist).
Stabilize the kettlebell and walk slowly forward for 45 seconds, engaging your core mindfully throughout the movement.
Replace the kettlebell on the ground and perform the exercise on the opposite side.
Circuit B Exercises
Single-Arm Split Squat to Shoulder Press

Lift a dumbbell or kettlebell with one hand while standing tall. Raise the weight to shoulder height and turn your palm outward by rotating your wrist.

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In order to achieve a lunge position, step back with one leg. Let both knees to flex. Position your back knee so that it is slightly above the floor, and your front knee so that it is in line with your middle toe.
Push the weight towards the ceiling while you simultaneously extend your legs.
Repeat steps one through three fifteen times, and then switch sides.

Incline Press

Adjust the back of an inclined bench to an angle of approximately 15 degrees. (You can also elevate one end of a freestanding bench in the absence of an inclined bench.)
When seated on the lower end of the bench, rest two dumbbells against your thighs while holding them in front of you.

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Lower the dumbbells to the lowest position of the bench press, bringing the upper arms to the sides of the chest. Push your feet into the floor and place your hands in the position that is most comfortable for you: Palms might be pointing inward in a neutral grip or forward, towards your feet.
Push the weight straight up until your arms are fully extended above your sternum, spanning the chest.
Completely and with control, lower the dumbbells, then promptly press them back up.

Farmer’s Carry

Take up something heavy with one or both hands, such as a kettlebell, heavy bucket, paint can, or duffel bag.
Hold the weight at your side(s) without leaning to either side, stooping forward, or bending backward.
Assume a lofty stance with shoulders away from the ears, and start walking.
As you feel your grip weakening or your form deteriorating, carefully lower the weight to the ground.

The Exercise: Two and four days
Resistance Training

These workouts are divided into two circuits:

Circuit A: Do the four exercises consecutively, followed by 45 seconds of rest. Do a second set, then rest for 45 seconds before beginning Circuit B.

For more info: Clinical NutritionistFood Security Specialist and Food Security Specialist

Circuit B: Do each exercise, then take a 45-second break before performing a second set. Before moving on to the metabolic conditioning section of the workout, take another 45 seconds of rest.

CircuitOrderMovement TypeExerciseSetsReps/TimeTempoRest
AA1HingeKettlebell swing21520200
A2PullAssisted pull-up (machine or band)21520200
A3Hinge/coreGlute bridge21520200
A4CoreLower- body Russian twist240 (20 per side)Slow and controlled45 seconds
B3B1SquatGoblet Squat21520200
B2PullDumbbell bent-over row21520200
2bCoreSit-up215Slow and controlled45 seconds

Circuit A Exercises

Kettlebell Swing

With your feet shoulder-width apart and a kettlebell 1 to 2 feet in front of you, perform the kettlebell squat. In order to reach down and hold the kettlebell, hinge at the hips.
Toss the kettlebell handle in your direction. Keeping your core engaged and lower back flat, immediately “hike” the kettlebell high between your legs while maintaining an engaged core.
Reverse the movement by thrusting your hips forward with force. While the kettlebell swings in front of you, contract your glutes to rise to standing.
Once the kettlebell reaches its apex, engage your lats to push it back between your legs. Do the prescribed number of repetitions, then “park” the weight in front of you with control.
Pull-up assistance (Machine or Band)

For Machine

Place your feet or knees on the counterweight lever on a pull-up machine. Overhand hold the bar or handles with hands positioned just outside of shoulder width.
With your core engaged, exhale and pull on the bar until your chin is totally above it, while maintaining a forward stare.

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On the count of two, lower your arms until they are completely extended at the bottom of the repetition.

For Band

A box or bench should be placed beneath a chin-up station.
Suspend a strong resistance band exercise over the bar, then draw the shorter loop through the longer loop.
On the bench, insert one foot through the loop.
Step off the bench and grasp the bar with either an overhand or underhand grip, allowing your arms to fully extend.
With a motionless body, steadily pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.
Reverse the motion and repeat the repetitions.

Glute Bridge

Lay on your back with bent knees and flat feet on the ground. Engage your core, drive your back into the floor, and squeeze your glutes from this position.
As you drive your hips up, keep your glutes engaged and your weight spread evenly over both feet. Stretch your hips fully so that the line from your knees to your shoulders is straight. Maintaining good hip alignment will prevent excessive back extension and arching.
To return to the beginning posture, immediately reverse the movement, maintaining gluteal contraction and avoiding a collapse to the floor.

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Note: To increase the difficulty, you can add weight by holding a weight plate, dumbbell, or kettlebell on your lower abdomen; adjust positioning so that your hip crease can move freely.

Reduced Russian Twist

Stretch your arms out to the sides so that your body forms a “T” shape on the floor.
Create a 90-degree angle by pulling your legs up and bending your knees so that they are squarely above your hips.
Maintain your knees together and bent, along with your shoulders and arms on the ground. Turn your legs to the left until the side of your left leg is hovering close to the ground.
Repeat on the right before returning to the starting position.
Circuit B Exercises

Goblet Squat

Standing with your feet hip-width apart and holding a kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest, perform the chest press.
Push your buttocks back and bend your knees to descend into a squat position. Maintain a vertical torso and knee-to-toe alignment throughout the exercise.
As you raise to your feet, push up through your heels.

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

Using a dumbbell in each hand and arms at your sides, hinge at the hips until your chest reaches approximately 45 degrees off the floor.
Pull the dumbbells towards the ribcage by squeezing the shoulder blades together and bending the elbows towards the hips.
Controllably lower the weights until your arms are straight.

Lay on your back with bent knees and flat feet on the ground. Cross your arms across your chest and place your hands on the shoulders of the opposing arm.

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Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to maintain your neck strength and prevent straining throughout the movement.
Bring your chin to your chest, engage your core, and elevate your upper body to a sitting position by lifting it off the floor. Reverse the movement and return to the starting position gradually.