Plenty of sources argue over the best workout plans. There’s compound lifts, Olympic lifts, crossfit, P90X, Tough Mudders, yoga(lates), cycling centuries, Bowflex, seven-minute abs…and diets and supplements that go along with them.
After all the arguing, I’m here to give you the absolute best workout plan you’ll ever find.
The best workout plan is one that you can do.
That means a plan that:
- You enjoy (at least marginally)
- You can make convenient for your lifestyle
- You get results out of
Willpower is conserved, so ginning yourself up to go to a workout you don’t enjoy or that doesn’t become a sticky habit means that eventually you’ll lose your enthusiasm and quit working out. (You want to make the workout habitual so that it costs very little willpower to maintain.) Time is very valuable, so spending it on a workout plan that doesn’t improve your health is a waste of your most valuable resource. (The same goes for doing a routine that no longer challenges you; note that every good workout contains provisions for changing weight, time, reps or distance as you improve.)
My workout plan looks like the following:
- I’ve fashioned a dumbbell-based circuit I can do in 30 minutes, a sort of modified 5×5. I rotate the weights along with a number of bootcamp/calisthenic exercises and some stretches to keep it fresh
- I go for a long bike ride about once a week
- Very occasionally, I go to yoga or rockclimbing as the guest of a friend
Here are how these principles apply:
I enjoy it. I get huge satisfaction out of banging out a few lifting sets (if there’s a barbell available, I shift some of the weight sets to that) and in being efficient at it. When workdays get grueling or frustrating, I look forward to blowing off steam with weights. As for the road, I’ve never experienced the “runner’s high,” but I get something like it in the groove and aftermath of a good bike ride.
It fits with my schedule and lifestyle. There’s a humble gym in my office building, which combined with the nature of my job allows me to dash out for a quick workout every day if I want (I usually make it three or four times a week). I also pre-commit myself by putting my workouts on my work calendar. My employer encourages health and wellness so long as work product is not compromised, so the time out is unquestioned and people know to respect the time on my schedule. Still, I couldn’t take a two-hour workout break without raising eyebrows, so the 30-minute plan is key to fitting with my available time.
Additionally, my biking buddy will give me trouble if I crap out on rides, so I have an accountability partner there.
The yoga and rockclimbing are transient, dependent upon being invited by a pal, so I don’t factor them in as anything other than changeup opportunities.
I get results. A fellow Manosphere writer told me recently that what he loves about the weight room is that if you put in the work, you will improve, guaranteed; not all sports can say that, nor all life pursuits, for that matter. My weight program builds muscle tone and mass and helps me drop saggy weight. (If and when it stops being effective, I’ll replace it with something else.)
How did I get to this point? I experimented. I tried workouts in the morning, evening, midday or ad hoc. I tried different exercises, circuits and theories. I watched my weight, profile and reactions from both sexes. It took a while, but it’s been time very well spent. It’s a habit, and I can be confident I’ll keep doing it for a while.
After all the fidgeting, my workout plan is enjoyable, convenient and effective. Improving my fitness trajectory from what I’m on now would require a further infusion of time and willpower to “break” the habit into a new one. When that time comes I know what will be required, but for now things are working and that’s why it’s the best workout plan for me.
Do not let perfect be the enemy of good, or best be the enemy of better; don’t get worked up over whether the paleo people or the meatheads or whoever would approve of your plan. Get on a track you can do, that gets you more fit, and do it.