Since I train year round, I cannot help but notice the huge increase in people on “my” trails and “my” equipment, at the gym. I have been spoiled by having them all to myself. While it’s been 5 years since I wrote “Six Weeks to Super Fitness” and 2 years since our last fitness boot camp, the questions never cease to come in.
Lots of people want to know what the best way to get in shape fast is. The danger in answering that lies in the question: what do you mean by getting in shape?
I am going to assume you want some combination of improved leanness and muscle mass, with more energy and more ability to move through life, doing what you want to do. I am also going to assume you want to improve your health in the process. In truth, “in shape” for most people, means losing weight, particularly, in the form of body fat.
So what is “best”?
In terms of aesthetics, I think the gymnast’s body says it all and that body is gotten primarily by moving body weight through land, sea and air in just about every angle possible. Body weight exercises are also easy to do on the road and unless you are on the rings or bars, they tend to be safer than trying to move weights at odd angles, in weird directions. A great modern variation on the theme, that integrates weights as well, is Cross Fit. A 6 to 8 week course, coupled with improved diet, will do wonders.
This is great circuit training, but there are a lot of people who would not hold up to that kind of stress. Not doing an exercise is the best way to not get in shape!
So, here is a milder alternative. Walking. Walking, particularly up hills and really, particularly with a weighted pack, or vest, or belt, up hills, is a great low impact way to get cardio and burn calories. Couple that with deep water sprints and water bell resistance exercises and you’ve got something most people can do without harm.
So, climb, my friend! Up a tree, a bar, or a rope if you are up to it. If not, a hill will do! And into a pool, for the stuff that would be too high impact on the land.