The results of my 30-day home-based mini-exercise routine

Our readers will recall that during the month of January I began doing some nutty exercises while at home using water jugs, furniture, and a lot of creativity. The goal was to do 15 different exercise for 30 repetitions – with exercises done at random intervals during the day. My larger goal was do carry this out for 30 days straight and find some way to test myself.

Keep in mind that prior to starting this random routine I had been regularly attending a local gym, as I had been doing for many years prior. Thus, I was realistic about the very likely outcome that I would lose some fitness, strength, etc. by doing this home-based type of training. In other words, I was not expecting to have a crazy Tim Ferriss-esque transformation.

So I managed to do the random exercise routine for 30 days straight, including some sessions while in the car, at airports, in planes, and hotel rooms (my roommate at a recent conference, Eric Johnson, can attest to this). Like I said, creativity and a touch of insanity, certainly helps adhere to lifestyle changes.

Despite being a researcher, I made a few critical errors in this off-the-cuff self-experiment: I didn’t measure any baseline values. I did have a general idea of my weight, which I have been checking on most mornings (a phenomenon that recently started due to the presence of a scale in our current residence). Also, I had a few “benchmark” exercises for which I knew how many reps with how much weight I could do before.

Recently, I asked my good friend and prior exercise buddy, Ryan Graham, to come along with me to the gym so I could test my strength after about 6 weeks of not being in a gym, 4 of which I spent doing random exercises at home.

What was the outcome?

I was essentially able to lift the same amount of weight as before. As an example, I squeezed out 2 reps of 225lbs on bench press. As a point of reference, the most I have ever bench-pressed was 255lbs – when I weighed about 15lbs more than I do currently.

While I had the ability to do the same weight, I certainly FELT less stable and controlled doing the movements. This likely has to do with specificity of training stimulus – I have not performed these specific movements in 1.5 months, so not surprising that they feel a bit foreign.

Another thing that came up from my gym-test day was the delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that I experienced in the ensuing days. I had forgotten what it was like to do much more weight than you are accustomed to – if you had so much as breathed on my chest, I would have cried.

Also, for those who are curious about less performance based metrics, my weight has actually gone down a bit (5-7lbs) since the end of my gym membership – this is largely due to a loss of muscle mass from not doing a lot of exercises that give rise to muscle hypertrophy. Despite liking the appearance of greater muscle mass, I am starting to realize there is little sense in trying to get “big” (in relative terms, of course, given my bone structure) and carrying around all that excess.

Since the end of this 30 day experiment, I have started another experiment with the help of a product that was recommended by one of our readers. The product had been graciously donated for me to try and it works very well with the random home exercise routine. I will report on this experiment in about 3 weeks – at which point I will reveal what exactly I’ve been doing. So far it has been a ton of fun and has really increased the variety and intensity of my workouts – so maybe I can regain some of that muscle mass!


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4 Responses to The results of my 30-day home-based mini-exercise routine

  1. Toni says:

    oh geez, now i’m dying to know what this secret product is!

  2. Aster says:

    Interesting article, this definitely supports my theory that you need to use it so you don’t lose it! What I have found with my clients that come back after holidays is to ease them back into strength training with higher reps, this allows them to get their strength back a lot faster, the good thing is that it doesn’t take long at all!

  3. Katie says:

    I know this is an old post, but I have to comment after reading your short series on workday exercise breaks.

    Shortly after I graduated college I realized the physical downsides. I had just gone from walking 3+ miles a day in between sitting in classes to barely moving for 8 hours in front of a computer. To keep my brain and body fresh, I set a timer for 30 minutes and get up and move just for 15-60 seconds. I let my eyes rest, I stretch my body, I do yoga poses and random body weight exercises. It makes me feel 100% better than not moving except for bathroom breaks.

    I don’t rely on it for my regular exercise though. I still get in a solid 30 minute workout. This might work for you too!

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