Health and Fitness

A 5-Step New Year's Workout Plan For Lazy Guys

You can get a lot of muscle work done in very little time.

New year. Same you. Wait, that’s not how that dumb saying goes. Let us guess: You’d love to show off a fresh six-pack in 2018, but the thought of fighting your way through a sea of resolutioners to get to a piece of gym equipment is truly nauseating. Fortunately for you, we’ve got your "new year, new you" action plan, and it requires the least amount of work possible. In other words, it's a fitness plan for even the laziest of lazy.

“Instead of lazy, let’s just think of it as efficient,” says Joe Holder, Nike Master Trainer and S10 trainer. “At the beginning of the year, the gym is filled with people doing the most for no clear reason or actionable strategy. The first step is changing that. You know your goals. You have some tools. Now it’s all about figuring out a way to get there efficiently.”

We can get on board with efficiency. Incorporate these five simple tweaks to your everyday routine in 2018 for major gains, both on the scale and with how you feel. This is your year.

1. Get some sleep.

Stop for a moment and think about the things on your to-do list. Pick up dry cleaning. Remember to get Mom a present for her birthday. Shave. We’re guessing “sleep” isn’t on there. While it’s easy to shove shuteye to the backburner in favour of more time with friends or late nights at the office, it’s essential for overall well-being. Especially since people experiencing sleep deprivation are more likely to be stressed than those who snag a full night in between the sheets. Plus, a single night of sleep deprivation is enough to up levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin (and, in turn, the urge to snack). Start by establishing a rough sleep schedule like your workout schedule, getting to bed around the same time each night (even on weekends).


2. Have a gym plan.

Spend a little time outside of the gym figuring out what you’re going to do once you get there. This way, you’re not loitering around the squat rack without a clue. “Structure your workout so you use the time well,” says Holder. “Follow the same general format each time: warm-up, workout, finisher, cool-down, and get out.” Holder suggests limiting these action items to a designated time. It should look like this:

  • Warm-up: 5 to 8 minutes
  • Workout: 20 to 25 minutes
  • Finisher: 5 minutes
  • Cool-down: 15 minutes

      3. Shift your focus to conditioning and strength.

      You don’t have to work out for 45 minutes a day every day to get maximum results. Improving your "conditioning" (resting heart rate, energy systems, and fuel usage) can typically be done if you start doing two sessions a week, says Holder. Think high intensity interval training and maybe some tempo work (example: sprinting for two minutes on an incline, then recovering one minute, for five to eight rounds).

      When it comes to upping your strength, Holder says that can be done in once-weekly sessions—with the right intention. Your goal? Focus on complex movement patterns that hit all the essential planes of motion: push, pull, squat, hinge, and carry. “Make sure to lift relatively heavy, about 65 to 80 percent of the maximum amount of weight you can lift,” he says. “Nail five to eight reps, three to four sets of each exercise—and [you'll] be able to keep strength or improve it.”

      4. Hop on the mindfulness train.

      Mindfulness is more than sitting down and meditating first thing in the morning. It’s bringing intent to what you’re doing at that point in time. A review of research out of Case Western University found that mindfulness improved three areas of attention: control, stability (i.e. no mind-wandering), and efficiency. People who participated in a single mindfulness training session were able to pay attention to both listening and visual tasks for longer than those who didn’t. Another recent study found that those who practiced mindfulness during exercise specifically were more satisfied with their routine, and in turn, showed up to sweat more often.

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      “If you want to be lazy, stop thinking about all the other stuff you have to do besides that moment. Actually paying attention to your body is important," says Holder. That way, you aren't wasting precious time—or putting in more work than you signed up for. "Same goes for mindfully eating," he says. "Put all of your focus on the task at hand.”

      5. Eat clean(er) and within an established window.

      A rule of thumb for anyone trying to get in shape: Stick to the outer ring of the grocery store. That means skipping out on processed items (here’s looking at you, potato chips) and opting for more greens and whole foods. Once you’ve got that tactic down, Holder suggests chowing down within the same eight- to 12-hour time window each day. That, and giving yourself two to four hours before you go to bed sans intake. “There's a relationship between growth hormone [which helps to regulate muscle growth] and ghrelin [which controls hunger],” he says. “We don't want to interfere with that. This style of eating plan helps to maintain balance, while also keeping the stomach’s own circadian rhythms intact.”

      The Lazy Guy’s Workout

      Here, Holder shares with us a moderately easy workout to get you started in the year. In it, you’ll be working in multiple planes of motion, boosting your strength endurance, and increasing cardiovascular capacity.

      The Warm-up

      Do it: Once through

      Air Jump Rope
      Do for: 2 minutes
      Do it: Pretend to jump rope, without the rope.


      Dynamic Leg Swings 
      Do for: 20 seconds each side
      Do it: Stand next to a support, like a wall, holding one arm out to the side at shoulder height for support. Start with both feet directly under the hips. Swing the inside leg forward and backward. Slowly increase the range of motion until the leg swings as high as it can comfortably go. Repeat on other side.

      Knee Tucks
      Do for: 20 seconds
      Do it: Stand straight. Draw one knee up toward the chest, holding it with both hands in place for one second. Return to start; repeat on opposite side.

      Quad Pulls
      Do for: 20 seconds 
      Do it: Stand on your left foot and grab your right ankle, bending your leg behind you. Tuck your pelvis, pulling your shin toward your glutes. Make sure your knee is pointing toward the ground. Hold for two seconds. Return to start; repeat on opposite side.

      Body Weight Squats
      Do for: 20 seconds
      Do it: Start with feet at hip-width distance. Bend knees, send glutes back, lower into a squat. Pause. Push through the heels, return to start for one rep.

      Bird Dog
      Do for: 20 seconds each side 
      Do it: Start on hands and knees in tabletop position. Simultaneously lift right leg and left arm, kicking straight back through the right leg and reaching forward with the left arm. Hold; slowly return to start. Repeat on opposite side.

      The Workout

      Do it: Twice through, without rest between sets

      Jump Lunges
      Do for: 30 seconds
      Do it: Start with your feet together. Jump and come into a lunge with your left leg forward (knee shouldn’t extend past your toes). Push off simultaneously with both feet, switching positions and bringing your right leg in front.


      Eccentric Lunges
      Do for: 30 seconds on each leg
      Do it: Start with your feet together. Step forward into a lunge and lower slowly for five seconds. Push through front heel to return to stand; repeat.

      Mountain Climbers 
      Do for: 30 seconds 
      Do it: Adopting a push-up position, jump to bring one knee to your chest, alternating between your left and right leg.

      Explosive Push-Up
      Do for: 30 seconds
      Do it: Adopt a push-up position. Engaging your core, bend your elbows, and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Then press yourself up so forcefully that your hands leave the ground. Land back in start for one rep.

      Eccentric Push-Up
      Do for: 30 seconds 
      Do it: Adopt a push-up position. Engaging your core, bend your elbows, and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor, lowering down for a total of five counts. Press yourself up back to start for one rep.

      High Knees
      Do for: 1 minute
      Do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then bring one knee up so thigh is parallel to the ground. Repeat with the other knee, hopping quickly between the two.

      Sprinter Sit-Ups
      Do for: 1 minute
      Do it: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and legs extended. Sit up with an explosive movement, simultaneously bringing the right knee to your chest and swinging the left arm forward as if running. Fully extend the right leg and return the left arm to the starting position. Repeat on other side.

      Side Plank
      Do for: 30 seconds on each side
      Do it: Lie on your left side with legs stacked and extended, and left arm supporting. Engage core to lift into a plank on your left arm with right arm raised above you, forming a T.


      High Knees
      Do for: 1 minute

      Side Lunge with Knee Drive
      Do for: 30 seconds on each side
      Do it: Start with your feet together. Come into a low side lunge with right leg extended to one side and left knee bent on other side. Now, push off and balance on your standing leg, driving left knee toward chest. Do for 30 seconds; repeat on opposite side.

      Side Shuffle to Get Up
      Do for: 90 seconds alternating sides 
      Do it: Start with feet at shoulder-width distance in quarter squat. Shuffle to right two steps, then drop down into a modified burpee (without the push-up). Jump feet back up outside hands, and repeat—first shuffling to the left before dropping down. Continue for 90 seconds.

      The Cool Down

      Laying on your back, execute a “4-2-6” breathing pattern: four seconds inhale, hold the breath for two seconds, release for six seconds. Do this for a total of 10 rounds.

      This story originally appeared on

      * Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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