April 1, 2020 Home workout experiment

Home workout experiment

It’s simple. It’s effective. And it’s tailor-made for people who work from home.

If that’s your situation right now, there may be no better time to try it.

Give it a shot, and it might help you:

  • Move more frequently throughout your day for better overall health
  • Make working out seem “easier” while improving your fitness
  • Do lots of exercise—without needing an hour of uninterrupted time
  • Take short work breaks that invigorate your mind
  • Have fun trying out a new approach to exercise

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Let’s start with the background.

Most well-rounded workouts last about an hour and total around 100 to 200 reps at most.

Okay, that might not be what most people do on their own. But as the exercise program director here at Precision Nutrition, it’s how I design workouts for our clients.

In one of these workouts, you’ll do about 25-50 total reps of primary exercises—movement like squats, deadlifts, pullups, and presses.

You may do 10 sets of three, five sets of 10, or the ole reliable “5×5” template (or any variation in that range). A very high-volume workout might feature 10 sets of 10 repetitions.

After this, you might do some accessory work: core exercises, lunges, or some isolation work for your arms or hamstrings.

These are typically lighter movements done to provide more total work.

Overall, you’re looking at a total training volume of about a hundred reps or so for any single workout. All wrapped up in about an hour.

But what happens after this hour of hard work? 

Chances are, you go sit in your chairs for the rest of your day.

Chairs? As in plural?

Well, yes.

There’s probably the chair where you do your work and the chair where you eat your meals. And the chair where you relax in front of your TV. (Or don’t relax, if you’re watching the news.)

And before quarantine, you probably had even more chairs, like the one you commuted to work in.

We can cram a lot of movement into an hour of exercise.

But that one hour is still a brief intermission in a day that’s otherwise defined by stillness. 

Modern workers can spend as much as 15 hours per day in a chair.1 This takes a toll on our bodies and our minds.

Some research has shown that even an hour of intense exercise isn’t enough to counteract all the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.2

What would happen if we reversed this?

What if we spent most of the day physically moving, with only an hour or two of stillness in the middle?

What if we moved continuously and did thousands of reps of movement over the entire day? 

This may sound ludicrous, but think of people who do manual labor for a living.

Construction workers, furniture movers, military personnel and agricultural workers regularly see long days of almost continuous movement. Professional and Olympic athletes may spend much of their day training.

Our bodies can handle an incredible volume of work. 

I know first hand.

Several years ago, I found myself testing out an absurd version of this idea.

When we created the Precision Nutrition exercise library of over 400 exercises, we spent 2.5 weeks professionally filming every movement and pose.

Each exercise was filmed from multiple angles, with both demonstrations of good repetitions and flawed repetitions from each angle.

For every shot, we’d do a few practice reps first, and we’d usually need multiple takes. We averaged about 35 exercises a day.

This worked out to around 1,000 repetitions per day on the low side and as much as twice that on longer days.

We used real weights for all the dumbbell-based exercises. So most of my reps were done with 50-pound dumbbells.

(Despite this, the worst single day was when we did bodyweight-only movements and filmed all the ab stuff.)

To review, that’s 1,000+ repetitions per day of different exercises, spread over about 10 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 2.5 weeks.

Fortunately, I was able to eat well (a PN specialty, you might say) and get quality sleep during this time. If those two pieces weren’t in place, things would have gone much differently.

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