Back in 2017, I wrote a blog post called “Get Off Your Dead Ass Before Your Ass is Dead” about the benefits of an aerobic workout vs. an anaerobic workout as far as it pertained to writers. As I said in my original post, “aerobic exercise not only burns fat, but also prevents clogged arteries which can prevent heart disease.”
At the time I was taking a daily walk in the morning sun and feeling good about myself and my work.
What I failed to mention in that long ago post, however, was that eventually winter would come, cold weather would come, maybe even at some point I would get on that mythical first shift and my available time for things like walks would be greatly reduced.
When free time is at an all-time low and the sun hasn’t shone in weeks, you still need to stay in shape, especially when you’re a writer who spends as much of your time sitting at a desk as you possibly can.
So how do we go about that?
There are several alternatives to walking that you can do at home, in your office. The first step, of course, is to STAND UP. Like I said in that previous post, get off your dead ass. And, let’s face it, that’s often the hardest part.
The chair is comfortable. Even when it’s not necessarily—like mine—it’s still more comfortable than standing. The chair is a safe place.
So’s the grave, but we’re trying to avoid going there as long as we can, so GET UP.
Remember, we want to burn fat, not sugar, so we’re going to leave the weights where they are—currently mine are on the floor in front of my CD shelf, across the room. These exercises are going to be cardio-based. We’re not building muscle, we’re just staying in shape.
We’re going to start with twenty High Knees. This exercise is good for leg strength, heart rate, and engaging your core. This is a simple 2-step exercise starting with your feet hip-width apart. Now take a step in place, lifting your leg so your knee is even with your hip. Alternate this step twenty five times.
Then go to twenty walking lunges. Yes, I know lunges are terrible and should be banned, but there are a few benefits to them. This simple exercise targets SIX different muscles, including abs, back, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. It improves your posture, which is incredibly important when you’re a writer at your desk all day, and they also improve your range of motion, which, at 48, isn’t something I worried about at 24, but now wish I had. With walking out of the question thanks to the snow and ice outside, lunges are an annoying alternative as it’s pretty much the same motion, just bigger, more exaggerated.
Next: ten push ups. You know how to do these. It’s only ten. Just do them and stop whining.
Twenty-five jumping jacks. Short of running from a zombie apocalypse, jumping jacks are the “ultimate cardio exercise”, according to the Femina website. Did you know jumping jacks are also a great way to improve bone density? Or that your heart and lung capacity are increased when jumping jacks are a part of your daily routine? And they’re easy as shit! Just do them. Twenty-five.
Because now you’re going to hate me: twenty squats. These not only “crush” calories, they strengthen your core as well as the glutes and thigh muscles. How to do them?
From the Healthline website:
To do a basic squat:
- Start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Keep your chest up, engage your abdominals, and shift your weight onto your heels as you push your hips back into a sitting position.
- Lower your hips until your thighs are parallel or almost parallel to the floor.
- You should feel the squat in your thighs and glutes.
- Pause with your knees over, but not beyond, your toes.
- Exhale and push back up to the starting position.
Next: The devil. I mean ten burpees.
These may suck, but they are incredibly simple. From the Healthline website, a burpee is “ a pushup followed by a leap in the air.” Burpees boost cardio and burn fat, and that’s what we’ve been talking about this whole time.
Do ten of those, then take a break with a 1-minute wall sit.
A wall what now, you ask?
Wall sits build strength in your glute, calves, quads and abs and they require no movement at all. To do a wall sit, according the Anytime Fitness website:
- Make sure your back is flat against the wall.
- Place your feet firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart, and then about 2 feet out from the wall.
- Slide your back down the wall while keeping your core engaged and bending your legs until they’re in a 90-degree angle—or right angle, so that if someone wanted to sit on your lap, they could. (Although now probably isn’t the best time.) Your knees should be directly above your ankles, not jutting out in front of them.
- HOLD your position, while contracting your ab muscles.
- When you’re ready to wrap it up, take a few seconds to slowly come back to a standing position while leaning against the wall.
Done. But now we’re going to circle back around and do a few of these again. 10 pushups, 25 jumping jacks, 10 walking lunges, 20 sit ups—no, these were not part of the original lineup, they’re an added bonus—followed by 10 more squats and a 1-minute plank.
I will tell you upfront a 1-minute plank on your first try is going to seem like you’re dying inside and it will be the longest minute of your entire life. But you CAN do it. I have faith in you. And if you can’t, do 30 seconds and work up to the minute, but I promise you almost definitely CAN do it for the full 60 seconds the first time out. Then promptly collapse into a puddle of jelly and tears immediately afterward.
Normally when working out, you’re told to take a break between reps, but for this workout we’re going to go immediately from one to the next until the circuit is complete. THEN we rest for 1 minute, and then we do it again. When you have completed THREE rounds, you’re done for the day.
Hey, no one ever said staying in shape was easy or fun, aside from taking a nice morning walk on a spring morning, but we’re writers. We’re lazy and we get fat and if you’re anything like me, you not only have people relying on you to stick around as long as you can, but you’ve also got more story ideas than you know what to do with and living as long as possible is the only way to be sure you get as many of them written as you can. So take care of yourself!
I will NEVER stop advocating for just going outside and taking a walk, but on days like today when it’s 34 degrees out, there’s not a chance I’m going outside unless it’s to go to the car. So a healthy alternative, something designed, again, to burn fat, not sugar, and to help prevent heart disease, a good cardio workout is just the thing. Now, here’s the rundown of everything you’re going to do, and you’re going to do it at least 5 times a week because you’re not a lazy piece of shit, you lazy piece of shit! Prove me wrong.
25 High Knees
20 Walking Lunges
10 Push Ups
25 Jumping Jacks
1 Minute Wall Sit
10 Push Ups
25 Jumping Jacks
10 Walking Lunges
20 Sit Ups
1 Minute Plank.
Repeat 3 times, no rest between exercises, one minute rest between circuits.
Special thanks to Kara Baum for giving me this workout she used in her Brazilian Jui Jitsu class.