One of the most important traits for a successful leader is high energy. A leader with high energy will outwork, outsmart, and outlast those with low energy. Your physical fitness directly links to your energy level. Yet, in their busyness, leaders often let physical fitness go. Me too. I want to show you a surprising 3-minute workout that gets results.
Over the years, I’ve done different types of exercise: swimming, running, and using weights in the gym. But for me, exercise has always been about what’s convenient.
A couple of years ago I got super busy traveling and all exercise went out the window. I noticed my growing midsection and weight, in fact, I weighed more than I ever had before. The trouble was, any exercise I started at home, I couldn’t manage on the road. And when I got back home I was discouraged and out of the habit so I didn’t exercise there either.
What I needed was exercise that I could do anywhere – at home or on the road. Something that didn’t require equipment, didn’t take an hour, and achieved results or I’d stop doing it. What I found was a simple workout I could do anywhere, that started small and was brief, only 3-minutes.
After implementing this 3-minute workout regularly, my weight is back down to acceptable levels, my energy is up, and my belt is a notch tighter.
First Fight The Mental Battle
Exercise and eating well are primarily a mental battle that must be won before any physical action is going to take place. The mental battle is similar to disciplines we practice in other areas of leadership.
- Don’t be idealistic. My goal is not to duplicate my best exercise routine from 20 years ago, nor my weight from that time.
- Something is better than nothing. Doing ANYTHING is better than nothing.
- Small and often is better than “a real workout” once a week. The secret of any success I’ve had is “often,” not “a lot.”
- Do the math. Everything I eat translates to more time I need to exercise. Since I don’t want to exercise, doing the math motivates me to eat less, and better.
Use what you know about getting things done at work to win the mental battle of exercise and eating well.
My Surprising 3-Minute Workout That Gets Results
I tried a number of exercises before I settled on these. The surprising part is how simple these are, you probably know how to do them already. There’s no need for a gym or even a special mat. At hotels, I put a towel on the floor. At home I’m on the carpet.
- Loosen up. Hold your arms out and do big sweeping circles with your arms forward, then backwards. Put your feet at shoulder width apart and put your hands down toward your toes. Don’t bounce. Put your arms straight up and reach to the right side, then the left side. Repeat.
- Do push-ups. Place your hands on the ground under your shoulders, keep your back straight (don’t let it dip down), and go down to a few inches off the ground, then back up. You may need to begin with push-ups off your knees instead of your toes. I did knee push-ups for a few months, then moved to push-ups off my toes. Start with 5. Then build to 10. And keep going from there.
- Do front planks. Planks build your core muscles – those in your belly and butt. Place your forearms on the ground to support you, then straighten your back suspending yourself off your knees (at first) or your toes. Don’t let your hips dip down or your butt poke up, that’s what causes lower back pain. Planks don’t use lower back muscles at all. It uses all the core muscles that support the lower back. Do a front plank for 30 seconds. Build to 60 seconds.
- Do side planks. It’s the same idea as a front plank but on your side. These are harder. You can balance off your knee or your feet on top of one another. Start with 15 seconds a side. Build to 45 seconds.
That’s it. I told you it was simple!
The key is to do these exercises everyday. Each can be done at different levels, for different lengths of time, and in repetition. So, it’s the same exercise but you can make it easier or harder as you need to.
Example starter workout:
Set 1: Loosen up. 5 knee push-ups. 30-second front plank. 15-second right & left side planks.
Set 2: 5 more knee push-ups. 30-second front plank.
From here you might add to the number of knee push-ups, add time to the planks, and repeat the full set #1 again. Move to push-ups off your toes for the first set and off your knees for the second set. You get the idea.
Remember the mental battle: something is better than nothing and often is the key.
You might be thinking: “Hey, where’s the cardio exercise?” I do that by walking 25 minutes a few times a week. I like to walk in the middle of the day. Walking clears my brain and increases my creativity. (See my article on coaching while walking.)
I’ve been able to maintain this 3-minute workout even with my travel schedule because it is short and I can do it anywhere. It works well for me. Give the 3-minute workout a go today. And tomorrow. And the next day. You’ll feel better.
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As with any new exercise program consult a professional if you have any health conditions.