The Workout Plan for Everyday People
Most workout programs are geared towards two types of people: those chasing aesthetics (building muscle or losing fat), or those pursuing performance. If these are your goals, then you can find plenty of fantastic programs out there that will lead to your success.
However, in my coaching experience, most people with 40-hour work weeks, families, social lives, and countless responsibilities often aren’t chasing a specific aesthetic or performance goal. Their goals usually look something like this: they want to be able to keep up with their children at any age, indulge in fun outdoor activities, maybe play on a local sports team after work, look good naked, maximize their health, and minimize their aches and pains. Most of my clients are simply looking for a balance of strength, mobility, muscular endurance, and cardiovascular endurance. They also want to accomplish all of these goals while minimizing their time commitment.
The average person isn’t interested in leg days that leave them so sore they have a hard time getting out of their office chair the next day. They don’t want high-impact exercises that leave their joints achy and vulnerable to injury. They simply want workout programs that give them the best bang for their buck.
If your goals look like those above, then look no further. Here is your new workout program.
To achieve maximum results with minimal time commitment, you will perform three workouts per week, each spaced out at least two days apart. One workout will be focused on strength, another on muscular endurance, and the third on cardiovascular conditioning and mobility.
- The strength workout will be centered on heavy, low-impact, compound exercises with low repetition sets. This will be a full-body workout to maximize the intensity, and will include a key compound exercise for every major body part. During strength workouts, your rest will be 90 seconds between each set.
- The muscular endurance day will be focused on higher repetition sets of callisthenic movements. This day will revolve around bodyweight exercises which will provide you with muscular endurance, stability, and coordination. During callisthenic workouts, rest 30 seconds between each exercise.
- For your cardiovascular conditioning and mobility workout, there are a multitude of options. You could choose activities such as swimming, rowing, or cycling. For the sake of programing, I am going to use an activity that is free and easily accessible to everyone: running. Now I know some of you out there absolutely do not enjoy running. If this you, feel free to swap in your own cardio activity. If you are willing to run on this day, the mileage will be very low, focused mostly on sprints and short distance runs of 2-4 miles. Sprints and short distance runs will alternate every week in this program. During sprints, take two minutes rest between each set. The distance runs should be run straight through and timed to track improvement. You will perform a short mobility routine after your run or sprints are completed.
Always perform a warmup before every workout. If you do not have a warm-up routine, I provide a sample provide below. Add any other movements you would like to make sure you’re fully prepared for each workout.
- Circle each arm forward 5 times and backward 5 times
- Circle the hips 5 times each way
- Circle the head 5 times each way
- Perform 5 light lunges on each leg
- Perform 5 slow squats, pausing at the bottom
- Perform 10 easy mountain climbers on each leg
- Perform 10 high knees on each side
- Perform 5 slow push ups
- Hang from a pull up bar for 15 seconds
The Everyday People Fitness Program
Monday: Strength Day
Time Commitment: 40-45 minutes
- Deadlifts (regular or trap-bar): 3x5
- Flat bench dumbbell press: 3x5
- Standing bent over rows (with dumbbells, barbell, or landmine): 3x5
- Bulgarian split squats: 3x4 each leg
- Standing shoulder press (with dumbbells or barbell): 3x5
- Farmers walks: 2x100ft
Wednesday: Cardio and Mobility Day
Time Commitment: 20-40 minutes
- 100m sprint x10 (max effort)
- 2-4 mile continuous run (or equivalent cardio of your choosing)
- Horse stance: 20sec hold
- Downward dog: 20sec hold
- Cat and camel: 20 reps
- Cobra: 20sec hold
- Deep squat: 30sec hold
- Deep lunge with side twist: 15sec hold each side
- Pigeon pose: 20sec hold each leg
Repeat circuit x 2
Friday: Muscular Endurance Day
Time Commitment: 25-35 minutes
- Push ups: 4 sets, stop 2 reps before muscle failure
- Pull ups: 4 sets, stop 1 rep before muscle failure
- Bear crawl: 3 sets, as far as possible
- Hollow holds: 4 x max hold for time
- Hip bridges: 4 x 20 reps
- Bodyweight squats: 3 x 25 reps
- Lateral lunges: 3 x 5 reps each side
Programming and Exercise Selection Explained
This program was designed with the most demanding workout of the week, strength day, as the first workout. This allows you to utilize the weekend for rest and have an additional rest day between your callisthenic workout and strength workout to allow for maximal recovery.
Some will look at this program and question if three days a week enough work. But if you aren’t chasing a physical extreme or high performance measure, then this program will be more than enough to keep you active, healthy, strong, and conditioned. This program revolves around large, compound exercises. All of the exercises besides the dumbbell bench press are done while standing, which requires much more stabilization and recruits more muscles than if you were seated or on a machine. With this routine, you will hit every muscle in the body and utilize a wide array of movements.
The deadlift was chosen as it is the king of exercises for the posterior chain, the muscles that run down the back side of your body from traps to calves. The deadlift will create power, stability, and explosiveness in your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. This is a taxing, full-body movement. Form is crucial on the deadlift, as with any loaded movement. Remember to keep a neutral spine from neck to lower back, allow a little bend in the ankles and knees, use your hips, and engage your lats for a tight grip.
Dumbbell bench press was chosen over traditional barbell bench presses because of the safety of the exercise. With a barbell, your shoulders are locked in place, and if you don’t have the stabilizing muscles required for the exercise, injury will occur rather quickly. We are trading off a small amount of extra muscular activation for a huge increase in safety.
Standing bent over rows can be done with a barbell or dumbbells. This exercise will challenge your stability, every muscle in your back, and activate your arms quite well. While doing this exercise, keep a neutral spine, push your hips back, and have a small bend at the knees. Form is everything; don’t use momentum to lift the weight.
Bulgarian split squats will challenge your single-leg strength and stability, while creating less stress on the knee than traditional forward lunges.
Standing shoulder presses require a high amount of core activation, and will challenge your shoulders immensely. Make sure you have the mobility to comfortably lift weight above your head before you proceed with this exercise.
Farmers walks are an old favorite. Laborers for centuries have used this technique to carry heavy objects from point A to point B. Luckily, our lives have gotten quite a bit easier, so this exercise is now a luxury with perfectly symmetrical weights and nice handle grips. Farmers walks will challenge your whole body, and give you a handshake your colleagues will be envious of.
Push ups have been a staple in fitness programming since Leonidas led the Spartans. Push ups challenge your entire body, and require a strong core to prevent the hips from sagging or butt from raising. Keep your body in a straight line at all times, and have your elbows at 45° from your body.
Pull ups are important functionally and for strength. They help you utilize your scapula and force proper posture. Use strict form, not momentum, and use assistance if you need it.
Most of us haven’t crawled since infancy. The bear crawl will challenge your shoulders, arms, and core more than you could have ever imagined. This is an important exercise for coordination, motor pattern function, and stability.
Hip bridges are the callisthenic version of the deadlift. Great for the posterior chain, and may even boost your bedroom performance.
Squats are an essential human movement pattern, so we incorporate them with body weight to lessen the stress on the spine and still get that great muscular activity in the legs.
I am a big proponent of lateral strength. These movements are often neglected, leaving us vulnerable to injury in everyday activities. Lateral lunges will strengthen the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the knees and help bulletproof your lower body.
The hollow hold is used as the basis for all of gymnastics core strength for a reason: it works! Lay flat on your back with your arms stretched out behind you. Next, suction-cup your lower back to the floor, lift your feet six inches off the ground, and lift your arms up until your shoulder blades are off the floor. Now hold until your body shakes and your core strength gives out.
Sprints, Cardio, and Mobility:
Sprints utilize a great amount of muscular explosiveness, and are your best bet for improving your VO2 max, which measures how well your heart utilizes oxygen. Sprints can be done anywhere from grassy parks to beaches, or on any road.
I am a firm believer that every human being is capable of running at least two miles continuously. With that said, a 2-4 mile run is all you need to maintain a base level of cardio conditioning, and this low mileage is easy on the joints. Running is free, always accessible, and a natural human movement.
The mobility routine combines all of the best yoga-based mobility exercises to loosen up your body after your cardio session.
A Simple Plan for Well-Rounded Fitness
There you have it. A simple, effective, and well-rounded program that will fit within your lifestyle. Is this program going to give you perfect health? Of course not. You still need to eat right, move more throughout the entire day, take time to destress, and spend quality time with loved ones. However, this program will lay the foundation for you to be strong, mobile, and conditioned. This program will elicit maximal results while being easy on your body and your time. There is no excuse, get out there and get after it!
Crunched for time? You don't even have to leave the house: