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Muscle Mondays – How to exercise from home

Submitted by on Sunday, 5 October 20086 Comments

Welcome back to Muscle Mondays at the Dad Jam, featuring our resident health and fitness expert, FitandBusyDad, Chris Lopez!  This post is gold… you are in for a treat.  Over to you, Chris:

In Parts 1 & 2 of this series, we found you an extra hour of time everyday for you to be more productive.  You’ve started to set you alarm clock 20-30 minutes earlier to take advantage of that “golden time” when everyone else is still asleep.  And you’ve cut out all the fluffy non-productive exercises from your current regime – no more monotonous, waste-of-time cardio, no more crunches-‘til-the-cows-come-home programs that get you nowhere fast (except, maybe, a visit to the chiropractor).

So in this installment of “Muscle Mondays”, I’m going to talk about something that may seem completely ass-backwards…

Get Out Of The Gym

I hate commercial gyms.  I think that they’re a waste of time and money.  The day that I said “I’m done” was

Who wants to look at this while working out?

Who wants to look at this while working out?

when I witnessed a yelling match between 2 members in the parking lot.  They were having an “I got here first” argument over a parking spot closest to the gym entrance.  A few minutes later, I find one of the members walking on the treadmill!?!

Commercial gyms have turned into “meet” market pick-up joints that smell of sweat and rusting metal. All the commercial gyms that I remember being a member of or working for were “sales-person-in-your-face” establishments that charged their members credit cards long after these poor folks cancelled their memberships.  Who needs that?

Once you get over the gym being a social hang-out spot, you’ll find that that’s really the only reason you’re going.  I realized this a few years ago.  When I was working out at the local Gold’s or YMCA, I used to just turn my iPod on and go to town.  I wouldn’t talk to anyone.  I would barely even make eye-contact.  It wasn’t because I was a snob.  Anyone that knew me knew that I was a pretty easy guy to get along with.  I just wanted to get the job done.  I got in, warmed up, did some multi-joint exercises, cut my rest time down and got out.  Done in less than 45-minutes, and onto living life.  I just didn’t want to waste my time and I wanted to get home to my young family.

I now exercise at home.  I have a chin-up bar, a few kettlebells, a stability ball, gym rings that I can hang from my chin-up bar and I use the kid’s play mat for floor exercises.  I do push-ups, chin-ups and a bunch of other bodyweight exercises.  I’ve managed to maintain a pretty good physique by using the least amount of equipment possible.  I guess you can call it the “zen” approach to exercise.  Besides, if I spent another minute in a smelly gym or a claustrophobia-inducing home exercise room I think I would blow my top.

If you’re just starting out, then you really don’t need any equipment at all.  In fact, you shouldn’t be lifting a single weight until you really can handle your own bodyweight.  Numerous times I’ve seen trainers throw overweight, out-of-shape men on a bench press when they couldn’t even do a push-up.  How does that make any sense?  Most of these guys can’t even walk properly with the weight they have.  Throw some added resistance into the mix and it’s an injury waiting to happen.

If you’re still kind of stuck and confused what to do, I’ve outlined a couple of basic circuits that I have all my clients perform prior to them using external resistance.

First, I address what usually a busy dad’s most troubled area…his mid-section.  Getting that elusive 6-pack has been every guy’s dream since he was an adolescent boy starting to take notice at the opposite sex.  If you’re one of the genetically gifted or incredibly disciplined few that can sport a ripped stomach during beach season, then my hat goes off to you!  For the rest of us, there are a few things that we need to understand about our “cores” (I hate that word).

1)     Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.  There’s a common saying in my industry: “You can’t out train a crappy diet”.  That is 100% true.  It doesn’t matter if you partake in the greatest fat-burning program known to man.  If you don’t clean up your diet, you will not see your abs.

2)     The function of your abs IS NOT to bring your chest into your thighs (as in a traditional sit-up or crunch exercise).  On the contrary, your abs are there to hold you upright and to RESIST movement.  Therefore, the absolute BEST way to train your abs is to not move them at all.  Below is a circuit that I use with all my clients to help them strengthen their abs.  Once they’re able to accomplish this circuit, I’ll progress them to more advanced exercises…


Second, I teach my clients how to move again.  It’s primal for man to know how to push, pull, lunge, squat, rotate and walk without the help of some machine or contraption that you’ll find at the 24-Fitness down the street.  The problem is that most of us are stuck at a desk for 8 or more hours a day, so we don’t get the opportunity move at all.  As a result of this lack of movement our muscles start to get tight and weak and we start walking around with a “C” posture (it’s called anterior dominance in my world).  To combat this, I’ve put together another bodyweight only circuit that will open up your chest and your hips so that you can avoid having horrible posture.  This circuit uses only 4 basic exercises and can be done anywhere…


So those are 2 bodyweight circuits that you can use without having $80 deducted from your bank account every month.  After you’ve mastered both these circuits, there are an infinite number of variations and progressions to these exercises. You can YouTube or Google “bodyweight exercises”, check my blog at FitAndBusyDad.blogspot.com (I’ve done a lot of Q’n'A and have an “Exercise of the Week Feature”) or you can check out my e-Book, “20-Minute Workouts for The World’s Busiest Dads” which contains a few circuit variations as well.

You don't need to navigate this labyrinth to stay in shape

You don't have to navigate through a gym like this to stay fit

The bottom line is that we don’t need a big box commercial gym to get a great workout in.  If you take into account the amount of time it takes to drive there, get changed, warm-up, train, shower, change and drive back, it’s become another waste of time.  Time that you and I don’t have.

Waking up earlier, concentrating on “more bang for your buck exercises” and doing these exercises in the comfort of your own home will save an abundant amount of time so that you can concentrate on things that matter most.


Chris Lopez is a fitness expert, writer and personal trainer.  He is an occasional contributor to the Globe and Mail, Maximum Fitness and Men’s Fitness Magazines.  He and his wife Rozanne live in Toronto, Canada with their 4 daughters.  Sign-up for your free report & workout at www.FitAndBusyDad.com or visit Chris’ blog at FitAndBusyDad.blogspot.com.


Stay tuned for next Monday’s installment of “Muscle Mondays” at the Dad Jam!

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