The “No Excuses” Workout

Working out is first and foremost a commitment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro athlete or a couch potato starting to embrace a healthy lifestyle. It all begins with committing yourself to making time for exercise.

Every single day, it’s that commitment to a personal goal that drives people to find whatever time they can spare to workout. The challenge is to keep focusing on the goal despite busy schedules, unexpected events, and other possible reasons that come up to steal time away from a fitness routine.

There’s no dearth of excuses for a creative¬†procrastinator like me. My list of excuses usually include:

  • The weather ~ “It’s raining. I don’t want my shoes to get wet…”
  • The dogs ~ “OMG! The stray dogs are out and about again this early! Can I outrun them?”
  • Lack of sleep ~ “I need more sleep…”
  • Routine ~ “If I’m not out of the door by 4:45AM then it’s already too late for me to run.” [Checks watch.] “Oh, it’s already 5:15AM.” [Heads back to the room and goes back to sleep.]
  • Time ~ “Too busy to workout today. I’ll make it up tomorrow.”

Now that I think about it, it’s so easy to come up with an excuse. And most of the time, it’s during the early phase of taking on an exercise routine that the list of excuses seem endless. With the prospect of more “pain”, the most creative reasons appear to delay the agony for another day.

Fortunately, excuses are no match to the minds of fitness gurus who can quickly find ways to go around a problem. No time to go to the gym? Too busy for a 30-minute home workout? No problem. Just do the 4-Minute MetaFit Workout.

An article featuring a 4-minute workout that can burn as much as 400 calories got my attention recently. First thought that popped in my head was, “I doubt I could even burn that much calories from a 30-minute easy run.” But since the program came from Coach Jim Saret, and somewhat reminded me of those fun yet nasty circuit training during my national team days, I figured it was worth a try.

So one rainy day when I missed a morning run, I did the 4-minute metafit workout.

Still Jack

Still Jack is a cardiovascular workout with combination of upper and lower body movements.

  • Like jumping jack, spread your arms and feet
  • Jump with your arms and feet moving sideward.
  • Do this 10 times in open and close movements

Squat Jack

This is also a cardiovascular workout with lower body movements that activate metabolism

  • Do a squat with your hands on the sides of your feet
  • Jump. Raise your arms. Spread your feet
  • Palms must touch each other upwards
  • Repeat 10 times

Push Up

This is another cardiovascular workout good for the upper body especially in the chest area and triceps.

  • Do this 10 times.
  • After 10 counts, repeat still jack and squat jack until you finish the 4-minute goal

(Source: Details and some photos here)

According to Coach Jim Saret, the goal is to perform as many cycles of the three exercises at ten reps each within 4 minutes. No extensions allowed. And from experience, I did not even want to extend.

To share some thought balloons and takeaways from the first attempt:

  • Nothing is easy as it looks. ~ Four minutes, x number of cycles of three exercises, ten repetitions – looked easy enough, on paper. I knew there was a catch somewhere. If circuit training memories served me right, even 10-20 seconds rest always felt too short. I was pretty sure four minutes without rest would be hell. Especially given my state of unfitness.
  • Drown out the other voice. ~ It’s often like a battlefield inside your head when you’re in the middle of a grueling workout. Two voices seem to be playing some kind of shouting match. One cheering you on, the other urging you to stop. Sometimes, the latter becomes noisier than the other. It’s that voice you need to drown out. Not even halfway through the 4-minute milestone, that other voice was already much louder inside my head. A few seconds through the first exercise, I already have a long list of reasons why I should stop. I only managed to finish the entire routine by focusing on a string of thoughts, “Endure it. It’s only 4 minutes. I can do this!”
  • Challenge yourself. ~ I’ve reached a point during the workout that I didn’t care how many calories I was burning. My only other thought, apart from the motivations I kept chanting to myself, was that I’ll make sure that one day soon it won’t be as painful as it was at that moment. I wanted to become better, stronger, and faster at it. I was in that kind of private hell that even the promise of 400 calories lost didn’t cheer me up.
  • Make it count. ~ Since I was already doing it, I might as well do it like there’s no tomorrow. It’s easy to slack off, cheat, or pretend while you’re alone. But if you think about how it’s only for a few minutes, it seems kind of pointless to cheat. So just do it. And do it well. It doesn’t have to be perfectly executed during the first few times you do it. Just make sure that you give it your best. Eventually, one day, you just might surprise yourself that you’re doing it faster and more properly.

This workout, and probably other variations of this challenging metafit training program, seems to be the answer to an endless list of excuses. It only takes exactly four minutes and it can be done in a small space. It’s basically like one of those things that are just there, taunting, “What’s your excuse?”

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