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How to get in shape in one month?
August 9, 2006 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Getting in shape in one month. How to do it?

How to get in shape in a short period of time, such as a month, if I hate to work out at gyms? I get bored fairly easily at those places, and I don't like people who are in a real nice shape (specially men) showing off and rubbing that at my face :)

I used to swim couple of years ago, but I don think it will have the esthetic effect I'm looking for, in the short term, although it gives me a real nice endurance.

I do not need to lose any weight; quite the opposite, I'm 6' 0' and 160 pound, a slim kind of guy.

Any thoughts?
posted by dcrocha to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is it muscle you're trying to gain? If so, protein shakes and bars might be a good start. Since you dislike gyms, would you consider investing in some dumbells for at-home use? Incorporating push-ups and sit-ups could help tone and strengthen your body, too.
posted by pricklypear at 1:42 PM on August 9, 2006


I'm doing CoolRunning's Couch-To-5K plan, and I've lost about 10 pounds through 3 weeks (along with some obvious diet chanegs)...

Here's the program

You should also look for a free eBook HACKER'S DIET, which includes some great stuff on getting in shape.
posted by JakeWalker at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


Your body doesn't develop in MTV time. You can make progress in one month, but you can't finish the job that fast. Biological processes aren't that rapid.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:48 PM on August 9, 2006


Whoops, sorry, should have read the last line of your q. Still, check out Hacker's Diet for the workout plan he uses.
posted by JakeWalker at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2006


Allow me to piggyback on your thread... I have a tournament in a month and already practice my sport 2-3 hours, five days a week, but want to increase speed & endurance, perhaps dramatically.

I think I should add sprints on some practice days and keep two rest days... is that the best idea? And I should take it easy for several days before the tournament, right? How long, 3 days? a week?
posted by palegirl at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2006


Eat big and lift heavy. That's about it. If you hate the gym, you can stick to bodyweight exercises (pushups, pullups, one-leg squat) but I can see that getting boring far faster than freeweights at the gym.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:54 PM on August 9, 2006


Lots and lots of protein.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


A guy I work with who used to be a personal trainer claims that the fastest way to get in shape is to run. In the span of a month you could probably get your self from "wheezing after a minute" to "tired after a 5K" without injuring yourself in the process.

If you want to build big muscles in a month, hire your own personal trainer to work you like a dog and prepare for pain.
posted by plinth at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2006


Also piggybacking. What are some non-gym (i.e., non-elliptical-machine) alternatives to running? I've got low-back (L4-L5) issues that I'm under the impression make running and other high-impact stuff a bad idea.
posted by dmd at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2006


What is the aesthetic effect you're looking for? Bulk? In that case, I can only echo plinth.

If you're hitting the gym anyway, don't ignore any Pilates and yoga classes they may offer. Learning to stand with excellent posture is the fastest way I know of to look significantly better, and both disciplines will help a lot with that. Plus, both yoga and Pilates are varied enough that they're not boring. And don't let a female-heavy gender balance fool you; this stuff can kick your ass just fine.

If you do start taking yoga or Pilates classes, wear bike shorts. Don't be this guy. If you really loathe gyms, consider looking for a specialized studio; there are lots, especially for yoga. (I prefer Iyengar yoga.) You can learn it at home from tapes, too, but having a good teacher correcting your mistakes is very beneficial.

If you spend a lot of your day hunched in front of a computer terminal or otherwise scrunched up, you may benefit from myofascial release or other deep tissue massage. (Be aware: it is not comfortable.) That can help you stand taller and more evenly too.
posted by sculpin at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2006


a month isn't long enough.
posted by the cuban at 2:45 PM on August 9, 2006


palegirl: What's your sport? I know that when I was going for my blackbelt and needed to get into shape, I did a month of HIIT (high intensity interval training) on a rowing ergometer using this* plan. I was rowing every morning (5 mornings a week) and training four nights a week, plus weekend training as well. This got me very fit**, very fast.

dmd: Your doctor is probably the best person to advise what is/is not a good idea with your specific issues, but with that being said you should not rule out running altogether. You may need to build up the 'bracing' muscles around your torso before indulging in running or high impact activities, but once you've done so you should be able to do pretty much anything you want.

Proof in point -- my father has had (for years) cracked vetebrea / major lower back issues. A hospital here has a 'back clinic', where they take people for a couple of weeks and teach them how to consciously control the stabilising muscles in their spine, and then makes them work out every day (in a gym, mixed cardio and weights). Being able to consciously 'activate' your stabilising muscles when you know they're going to be needed (eg "I'm going to lift this heavy box -- back muscles ACTIVATE!") means that less stress is applied to the spine, and reduces the possibility of muscles spasming (there's yer pain right there).

If you want to do something similar at home, build up your core strength -- lower back, abs, etc. Pilates/yoga is a good low-impact way to do this, which you can learn from a book (although I'd advise against it, in that it's easy to learn poor form through ignorance).
*I actually modified this slightly, in that I only did a 5-minute warm up beforehand, and after doing weeks 1&2, and 3&4, went straight to 30s/30s splits. But that's because I was short on time in the mornings.
**Where "fit" equals able to go all out for a few minutes, recover in under 10 seconds, then all out again. And again. And again. Exactly what you need when you're fighting.

posted by coriolisdave at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Another piggyback: I'm looking to build some muscle (not a ton, but some) in my chest and upper back. What are the best excercises to do at the gym, and how often should I be doing them?
posted by SpecialK at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2006


How to get in shape in a short period of time, such as a month, if I hate to work out at gyms?

In shape for what? If you're aiming for a specific event, or a specific goal, it's easier to target your workouts. Do you want more muscle, better cardio/endurance, or...???
posted by pdb at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2006


I hate to work out at gyms?

Grumblebee workout method:

1. Set up exercise equipment (of your choice) in your home.
2. Set up a TV & DVD player (or PC/MAC with DVD) in the same room as the equipment.
3. Get a Netflix account.
4. Rent good TV series (I recommend HBO and BBC stuff: Deadwood, Sopranos, I Claudius...) You're only allowed to watch an episode while you work out.
5. Work out for an hour each day while watching the episode.

optional tool: Tivo
posted by grumblebee at 3:12 PM on August 9, 2006


If freeweights/&c are a burden (ie., you live in a smaller apartment) - try getting a chinup bar.

Every morning:

Stretch
As many chestups (palms facing you) as you can manage
As many crunches as you can manage
As many chinups (palms facing away from you) as you can manage

I ended up with a net weight loss (starting: 5'9" 130lbs) at about 6 weeks, then rapidly (about 10 weeks from start) went up to 140lbs but plateaued at 145lbs for a year. Then I got stressed and stopped for a few months - but no weight loss.

At the beginning I could only do 6/30/4 reps and at the peak I was doing 18/as many as I wanted/15. I got up to 14/as many as I wanted/12 by 8 weeks or so.
posted by porpoise at 3:31 PM on August 9, 2006


Well, since coriolisdave asked, my sport is roller derby. HIIT training is basically what I know I need (which is what I was getting at when I suggested that sprints are in order,) my problem is I get all grumpy when I have to work out when I'm not wearing the fancy shoes with the wheels on 'em.

Maybe I should stop eating so much garbage & sugar, now that you all mention it...
posted by palegirl at 3:59 PM on August 9, 2006


For those that want a really good workout that is easy on the knees and joints, go find a Spin class. You will get results!
posted by konolia at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2006


SpecialK,
For upper back: Pull ups or Pull downs (using a cable machine or a Hammer Strength machine) are good for this. I do four sets of six reps, and I'd say work it three times a week. You should probably also do normal rows (bent over with a dumb/barbell, cable machine, Nautilus machine, or Hammer Strength machine)

For chest: Bench press is a great compound exercise that works your chest. I use dumbbells personally, but you can use barbells, or use a machine.

For shoulders: I'd say do some shoulder isolation exercises too, since bigger shoulders will make you look bigger overall. For these, I do front raises, side raises, and back raises using dumbbells which should work each of your deltoids (anterior, medial, and posterier)

dcrocha,
Want to get fit quickly? is a good site which goes over a few different interval training methods and provides plans for doing this in a month. I'm not sure what you mean by fit, but this will help a lot with your aerobic/anerobic fitness.

Rereading, it seems more like you want to bulk, in which case you probably won't notice any huge gains in a month. If you are serious about this, you will have to hit the gym and the weights often and eat more calories than you consume. T-Nation is a good site for lifting information.

So you know, I really started hitting the weights this summer (I lifted before, but not like I do now) for rugby, and it has taken most of the summer to see any significant mass development.
posted by Loto at 4:23 PM on August 9, 2006


dmd: I have lumbar issues too (freakish hypermobility) and I do recommend the Pilates for that. My PT is absolutely delighted that I'm doing it. And it's been astonishingly successful for me. As coriolisdave indicated, building up your core strength can make all sorts of things possible that now seem like bad ideas. Heck, a couple of years ago my back was so wobbly that I could hardly stand even to take a city bus because of the jolting involved; these days I'm bouncing over potholes on a bicycle. Getting my core strength up has ruled to a degree that I cannot express.

But ask a PT for advice. In my experience, this is just the kind of question that a physical therapist loves to answer.

If you do start Pilates, I'd recommend that you not only find a teacher but, if you can, take at least a few private lessons with an instructor who has some experience with people with injuries or other physical impairments. This is especially true if you don't have great proprioception. Pilates technique can seem very subtle, and form is very important.

I also take yoga, but I believe it's the Pilates that's really done the trick for my sacrum and lower back; you certainly can build your core with yoga, but it's not usually the focus of a yoga practice, in my experience. However, if you're more into yoga, there's a little book called Yoga Abs by Judith Lasater that's worth checking out and could inspire some good additions to your regular practice. Lasater is a PT and yoga instructor in San Francisco, and her approach is gentle, precise, and no-nonsense.
posted by sculpin at 4:35 PM on August 9, 2006


I'm having great results with this plan Muscle and Fitness magazine May 2006, you do intense weights for a cardio effect and follow a 50% protein diet. It's a ten week plan but I've been doing the lifting (5x/wk) and keeping to the eating about 80%. I really like doing the 'high reps/low weights' lifting for cardio - right now I'm doing 5 sets of 20 reps each (well, trying to 20) with different muscle group each day (chest, back, arms, legs, shoulders, rest, repeat).

If you want a good 'crash' diet here's one to lose 15 pounds in 21 days from Men's Fitness magazine.
posted by ao4047 at 5:27 PM on August 9, 2006


I'm an idiot and didn't RTFA that you don't like gyms. The diet info should still be helpful.
posted by ao4047 at 5:29 PM on August 9, 2006


How to get in shape in a short period of time, such as a month, if I hate to work out at gyms? I get bored fairly easily at those places, and I don't like people who are in a real nice shape (specially men) showing off and rubbing that at my face :)

Let's see...You want to "get in shape", but you don't want it to be in a gym, you want it to be interesting, you want it to be fast, and you don't want to look foolish. Do you realize how ridiculous you sound?

Just suck it the hell up and go lift some weights for fuck's sake! No one's trying to rub anything in your face in the gym, so grow a goddam spine and get your ass in there.

Sorry for the harsh words, but this kinda crap pisses me off. If you want results, you have to put in hard work, and you have to make certain sacrifices. Let me suggest the first thing on the altar be your ego.

Read some of the articles at t-mag, if you can stand it, but don't let on that you're a such a pansy or they'll all laugh at you.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2006 [2 favorites]


Special K: chest: add some dumbell flys and incline flys and dumbell presses with the forearms angled just slightly outwards. upper back: shrugs, upright rows, cable rows, bent over flys, lateral raises, stuff like that. you should be able to find a lot of exercise info online. Aim for a workout that leaves you kind of sore the next day, a good kind of sore, and 3 full days of rest between, i don't do same area more than twice a week. in between you could be running, riding, playing tennis, whatever.


drocha: what Mr Gunn said. Or if you are adamant that you want an aesthetic effect and you want it in a month, get see a plastic surgeon. If your problem is boredom try some sport, social sport or martial arts or something. I'm not a gym junkie, but what you are asking comes across as rather naive in terms of the effort involved for the results you want.
posted by Tixylix at 6:53 PM on August 9, 2006


Depending on what you mean by "get in shape," you may wish to invest in a copy of Dance Dance Revolution, which only looks ridiculous until you get good at it (and besides, you'd be able to play in the privacy of your own home!). It's honestly the only exercise I've WANTED to engage in that comes to mind.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:07 PM on August 9, 2006


Read Steven's answer again, then listen to Exorcizing Myths about Exercise, then read Steven's answer again, and then maybe think about following some of the other advice in this thread..
posted by Chuckles at 7:29 PM on August 9, 2006


even though gunn was a little harsh about it i totally agree.

unless you are willing to invest $2k on some decent home gym equipment head down the gym. the people there are not trying to rub your face in it they are just there to work out.

the month time frame is a little ridiculous as well. start thinking more like a year and you might stand a chance.

if you are really interested in getting fit though you wanna check out

HST for weight lifting advice

AS check the forums for diet advice

and start running!!! in 8 weeks you will be at 5-6k level easily. thats assuming right now you cant even run for a minute.
posted by moochoo at 2:28 AM on August 10, 2006


It is not necessary to spend $2K on home gym equipment in order to increase your strength and muscle mass noticeably.

Body weight exercises + two dumbbells with adjustable weights (50 pounds for each bell) are enough to make a big difference. Your one month timeframe is, however, unrealistic.
posted by syzygy at 8:22 AM on August 10, 2006


specialk- Personally I do three chest exercises at the gym. 1) Bench press - I think this is going to be a pretty standard suggestion for anyone looking for a chest exercise 2) Fly - This is another pretty standard one 3) Incline Bench Press - I like to do this one with dumbbells, but some people prefer using the bar. I think it also helps to occasionally mix up the third exercise (i.e., every couple of weeks do dips or decline presses instead)
posted by riz1 at 2:48 PM on August 10, 2006


I've played competive soccer for almost 25 years and the quickest way to get in shape I have found is running stairs. Combine that with pushups, pull ups, crunchs and you have total fitness. If you're concerned with weight gain or weight loss, you will have to count calories and find the right balance to either side depending on what you want to accomplish. Don't worry about rep numbers, do it until you can't, wait five minutes, then do it again, and one more time. Your fitness will progress rapidly at first, then it will taper off and move more slowly, but it will be noticable after a month if you do it every day. If you pursue the yoga route, look at Ashtanga Yoga, as this is probably the most physically demanding form of it. If you have a good instructor, this will likely provide you with the most aesthetically pleasing results, as it is comprehensive in the muscle groups it works. Remember to breathe.
posted by p8r1ck at 3:16 PM on August 10, 2006


dmd: follow the example of #1 and get yourself a recumbent.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:34 PM on August 10, 2006


I would HIGHLY recommend swimming if you can find a pool. It is harder and safer than running, biking, or lifting weights. The best shape I've ever been is when I swam freestyle 4 days a week for 20-45 minutes each day. Get someone to teach you how to do it properly though.

If you can't do that try Five factor fitness. The routine and diet regimen that he describes really works. I have been working out for 15 years now, and I never got in as good of shape as when I followed that routine.

It is simple, work out 5 times a week. Each work out consists of a moderate cardio warmup, 10 minutes of weights, 5 minutes of abs, and a moderate cardio cool down. You are only at the gym a total of 35 minutes.

Then you eat 5 small meals a day and the best part is, one day you get to say to hell with it all and eat/do whatever you want.

The inital cycle is 5 weeks long, but I bet after a month you'd see/feel results.
posted by jeff_w_welch at 4:04 PM on August 10, 2006


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