You are your own Gym

I posted this elsewhere inside another thread - but I think it is important enough to warrant a thread of its own.

Over the past 6 months, I have done little strength/flexibility/cross- training , for a number of reasons - but probably the most important is that I don't enjoy doing "gym" stuff and thought that I don't really need to do it. But I am aware of my declining strength in both upper and lower body due to my advancing age - and have recently been surprised by figures showing how much strength we do lose as we age. I am also aware that I will need some kind of regimented and organised plan to keep my nose to the grindstone if I am going to undertake some strength building exercise.

Anyway, I accidentally found this book "You are your own Gym" by Mark Lauren ( and have subsequently found an Android App ) to compliment the book. This bloke is highly qualified as a physical instructor - with long experience training American Special Ops troops. I have read the book and like very much most of what he says. He is however basically "anti-running" for weight loss/general fitness and states his reasons - so I have chosen to ignore what he says about this. :)

He has 10 week training plans - which go from Beginner to Advanced - and which offer 30 minute workouts every 2 days , so they slot nicely into most running plans. I have basically decided to 'adopt" his plans in the same way I am adopting jenny Hadfield's running plans to take me long into the future. I did W1D1 of his basic Plan yesterday ( all done using bodyweight only ) and, although I finished the task reasonably easily, I am quite muscle sore in the upper body today.

What I like about his exercises is that they are similar to aspects of C25K wherein you do an exercise , rest, do it again 2 times, rest, and keep increasing the repeats until a point where you then start to decrease the number - all the while resting between sets . He calls these "ladders" .

Worth looking at for anybody wanting to strengthen their bodies all over - and lose fat. :)

18 Replies

  • Looks interesting. I've always been pathetically weak in my upper body. Never been able to swing across monkey bars for example - not because I'm heavy (far from it) just weak and weedy!!

    Maybe I need some structure to make me "do" something about it...

  • Yes -- structure. I have tried just doing random exercises - pushups, situps, lunges, etc -- but I feel that I need the help of a structured plan . That way , a bit like C25k, you feel like you are "progressing"

  • Oh my internet is SO slow. Videos saying they will take 10 hours to download... zzz.... :(

    Now saying 38 hours.... now 13, now 18 ... think I've found a random number generator. It's definitely taken over an hour so far though.... now 3 (here's hoping!!)

  • Yes - the videos that go with the App are about 250Meg in size. You don't absolutely have to have them - especially if you have the book - but they do make the App so much better to use.

  • Well I don't seem to be able to get into the app without them :(

    Trying again now, hoping the speed will be faster at night - and it won't finish off my GB allowance for the month because that it doesn''t count between midnight and 7am.

  • OK, the deed is done. Just need to start W1D1 now.... Tut they definitely don't look like my favourite kind of exercises :( but I suppose they will be good for me...

  • Thanks for that Bazza. I have never had very good upper body strength so have been looking for something like this. I will certainly give it a go.

  • Hi, cannot recommend strength/ core conditioning strongly enough. I like you am not really a gym bunny, but I am lucky that I have a friend who is a highly qualified and makes it fun for me!

    The difference it has made to my running is amazing, I now run upright, no collapsing in the hips and chest. I can run on the balls of my feet.

    I would say to anyone that you must do core work alongside losing weight and getting fit!

  • Useful recommendation -will take a look see.

  • Bought the app and will give some of this a go. Thanks!

  • The App is really good as it allows you to see the videos of each exercise as you are doing them. However the App is really for use as an adjunct to the book - which has a lot of info about each exercise and the principle of the different training courses. You can get by with just the App, but if you could get the book from the library, it would make things a lot more meaningful.

  • Thanks for this Bazza - I'm redoing C25K having crashed out at week 7 in April with various knots and tendinitis. Taking it really slowly this time, stretching religiously, repeating weeks to build up fitness and trying to introduce some core work and overall strengthening. I'd botched together a workout of sorts from various Youtube videos, but as a botch job was finding it hard to stick to! This app looks perfect - I've made it to w5r2, so fingers crossed it will help me through the rest! Thanks again for sharing.

  • Ah, that looks interesting, thanks. I did my first race on Saturday and now I'm looking for another challenge to keep me going through the winter months. How many weeks does his book's course run for? For my part I hate gyms, but I stay a member of mine because they have excellent classes - I cannot recommend pilates enough, it's made such a difference in keeping all my joints nice n supple for my runs :)

  • The courses are all 10 weeks long - but there are 4 levels . The top level being for qualification for the SAS :)

    However all of his individual exercises ( including those in the premadecourses) have graded variations - for example, the "Classic "pushup" comes in 6 variations -( from easy to most difficult), firstly do it standing up and leaning with the hands against the wall, then with hands on a table top , then with hands on a step or something at knee height, then hands on the floor then with feet elevated above hands slightly, then further elevation of feet, then one handed pushups :)

  • Yesterday, I did Day 1 of Week 1 - of the "basic Beginners" programme - 4 exercises of 7.5 minutes each - with each one done as a "ladder" increasing the number of repeats each set until you feel that you can do no more and then go on by reducing the number of repeats for each set until the 7.5 minutes is up. If you try to do too many (say) pushups in one set, your muscles will fail and that is the end for the day - but with these ladders , you can do more repeats (because of the rests in between) than if you just exercised until muscle failure.

    Anyway, I completed W1D1 OK - but today my whole upper body is quite "sore" -- I obviously used muscles that I have not been using much . I do feel that this may be a big reason why my run today went so poorly, I was tired .

  • Thank you for that. I only do Pilates as exercise as well as running and I'm conscious that my arms need more exercise. Just downloaded the app and will give these a go!

  • Thanks Bazza... I've been thinking about the need to cross-train and get some strength training in on my rest days from running... I'll check this out! Cheers!

  • I did the W1D over again today - as I didn't quite understand how the App worked when I first tried it 2 days ago.

    I think it is going to work out well for me. Just finished the first day's 30 minutes - and as I sit here trying to type, my arms and shoulder muscles are actually 'shaking".

    I like the concept of the "up and down ladders" - and varying difficulty variations for each of the exercises. They allow you to get more done. As an example, I can normally do only 12 classic pushups on the floor before I reach muscle failure. But this morning, by going up the ladder to a maximum of 8 pushups and going back down again , I got back down to 5 before my muscles failed. This means that I was actually able to complete 51 pushups - whereas in the past I have given up at 12 ( upon muscle failure) . Then, because the 7.5 minutes hadn't elapsed, but I had actually reached muscle failure for that particular variation, I stood up and did a further 30 pushups against a desk before the time ran out.

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