Tier Zero or Starting From Nothing

Most of the programs I write are for people looking to enhance their performance in one way or another. I realize that the real issue is that most people don’t work out at all. So the goal with this program is to take someone who is literally doing nothing and just get them moving in a way that will work for just about anyone. If you have some major issues like diabetes, heart disease, etc. Then don’t even attempt this and start your training in a full blown cardiac rehab center. If you are healthy and just are completely inactive this is a basic program to get your started and working your way up until you decide what type of training you want to really commit to.

So with that preface we will start with attacking fitness on its three pillars (in my mind): strength, conditioning, and mobility. The goal is to build each pillar at the same time in a low intensity and safe manner. If you think you don’t need the baseline here then don’t bother. If you do have glaring issues in one area then start with that area, and if obviously everything is defunct this is way to start off.

Strength

The body is a barbell and some barbells are loaded heavier than others. To start we will be doing only body weight exercises and progressing them accordingly when you hit certain goal levels you will progress to harder exercises. The key with strength training is you don’t pay for your crimes immediately, instead you find your soreness can come one or two days afterwards, so be tentative at first and then slowly add in more volume. Take a day off between each session and LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Crippling soreness helps no one out, especially someone that is just starting to get in to training.

Your initial program will be the same exercises repeated every two days and as you get a good handle on those then it will be time to add in a day two and day three that give you some variety. Once you can get through the bodyweight circuits easily then it is time to start on barbell training and I have a few old programs on this blog you can search around for or just find some from the internet.

Day 1 2 3
Exercise Bodyweight squat to bench Squats Squat jumps
Exercise Wall push up Push up on knees Push ups
Exercise Crunch Sit up v-ups
Exercise Step up (use a stair case and take two at a time) Lunge Walking lunges
Exercise Leg raises on the ground Leg raises on the ground Flutter kicks on floor
Exercise Clam shells Hip thrust on floor Single leg hip thrust
Exercise Superman on floor Body weight low row (knees bent) Body weight low row

Start with a set of 10 on each exercise and then the next workout aim for 12 and so on and so forth. For the bench squats, sit down to a chair that you can orthopedically and stand up, aim to lower the height of the chair that you are sitting down to each week. For the pushups find a height that you can manage to move through a full range of motion with good control for those repetitions. For the step ups a simple stair case where you take them two or three steps at a time and you can use the hand rail to help yourself balance and even assist you if necessary. The idea is a total of 10 reps on each leg to start. The leg raises on the ground are laying on your back and then lift your legs up off the ground using your hip flexors and abs.

Conditioning

This is your ability to do work, and to keep that work out put up for long periods of time. If you have literally been up to nothing any work will be a novel stress on the body. So here again it will be easy to over stress the body. Aim to start with the least stressful forms of exercise. If you have access to a gym start off with biking, elliptical use, or swimming. Make it your goal to initially just be doing 5-10 minutes of work at a low intensity. You should be able to hold a conversation with someone while doing this. If you have the ability to track your heart rate aim for it to only be between 80-120 beats per minute. If you don’t have access to a gym then start off by simply walking. If you have a step counting device of some sort, aim to add in 50-100 steps each day and listen to your body.

If your knees, hips, low back, ankles, etc. are wrecked after a session of walking then figure out how much work that was and cut back 20% then slowly start working your way back up. The goal here is to progress to higher intensity work with time, but with your training aim to add in one extra minute of work (or the greater number of steps) every other day until you are doing half an hour of constant work (or over 10,000 steps per day). Once you get to this point then it is time to start ramping up your intensity. This means simply to work harder during that time period. You can do this by upping the resistance or incline on the exercise machines you are doing, otherwise try to cover a greater distance working in the set period of time. Same basic idea of only increasing by 5-10% each day. You can use a heart rate monitor here again as a way to show your intensity is higher.

Mobility

This is your ability to move your joints through a pain free full range of motion. If you have been living in chair jail for a long period of time you will likely be tight in the hip flexors, hamstrings, calf stretch, upper back, and shoulders along with potentially have a large number of other restrictions throughout the body. The goal to start is to improve your mobility by using stretches that aren’t hard to do and as always listen to your body when you do them. Aim to do this mobility work once every other day, but you can build up to doing this every day if you want to.

Please do some side reading on rolling out muscles with foam rollers and mobility balls to help, but the goal here is to give you a few simple stretches that you can do at home to help you open up your tighter parts of your body. If you don’t need any mobility work then skip this segment or do what you find to be more intense. If the stretches I lay out for you hurt or you don’t feel them stretching then by all means modify them by trying different angles or just simply don’t do them.

Couch stretch/hip flexor stretch

Full squat stretch

Calf stretch (ok, I’m tired of hyperlinking now. Just look up these ideas on your own. Yoga exercises are good choices here especially when you can be passive in the positions.)

Cobra stretch

Shoulder stretch

Pec stretch

Warm up

Before each of these training days do something to warm up. The goal is to get the blood moving and you don’t necessarily need to do anything too fancy and doing a simple round (or two or three) of a less intense version of what you are doing for your training on that day. Another simple warm up circuit is as written here:

Exercise Reps
Arm circles forward and backwards 20
Trunk twists 20
Side bends 20
Hips go forward and go backwards 20
Leg swings front to back 10
Leg swings side to side 10
Elbow bend and straighten 20
Wrist circles 20
Knee bends and straighten 20
Calf raises 20

 

Summary

So here is a simple program to hit all basic areas of fitness for someone who has been inactive for a solid amount of time. I hope that this helps for some readers out there. Please share it accordingly with anyone that you might think it will be useful for. As always thanks for reading and have a great day.

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