Hugh Howey

Bestselling author of Wool and other books. Currently sailing around the world.

The Hard Way

Isn’t it weird how the more time-saving devices they invent, the less free time we seem to have? And what free time we do have feels like it’s jam packed with near-compulsory leisure activities. It’s impossible to fit it all in. We’ve got a Game of Thrones episode on the DVR; Netflix just dropped an entire season Daredevil; the kids are active in three sports; we’re trying to finish that book; and several social media outlets beg for our attention.

It makes it really easy to forego the things we’d love to procrastinate right into next year. Like exercising.

I’ve always gotten a decent dose of exercise, but it got really hard when I started spending time on the road. Hotel gyms were my friend, but I often didn’t have the time to even hit those. So I started looking for ways to get exercise during my normal routine. If there was a flight of stairs between two escalators, I took the stairs. If I had to carry luggage or groceries, I did it with arms away from my hips until I could barely feel my shoulders. What I found was that we have plenty of opportunities to make things a little harder on ourselves (like skipping the moving sidewalk), but we often fall into line with everyone else. I’m pretty sure it’s peer pressure as much as laziness. Working out while doing normal activities can draw looks. One of the best moves I ever made was to stop caring what other people thought.

Which brings us to something we do a lot of while missing out on an opportunity to get some great exercise, and that’s walking. We walk a lot, but walking isn’t a very good fat-burner or muscle builder. In fact, walking is so hyper efficient that we can do it for hours without breaking a sweat. Not a good sign that it’s doing much for us. Sure, it’s better than sitting on the sofa, but isn’t that a rather low bar to set?

This is where the lunge comes in. It’s an exercise so simple that you can’t believe how brutal it is. And you save enormous amounts of time. Are you currently walking thirty minutes a day for exercise? Do the following for five minutes, three times a week, and I promise you’ll be shocked by the results. I can only do about 50 lunges for the first set, and then I shake it out and get a breather, do another 30 lunges, and then finish with a final set of 30. I do these 2 to 3 times a week. I mean, you’ll be hurting everywhere, but especially in your butt and hamstrings. Your quads should be sore immediately after. Here’s what I mean by a lunging walk:

Once you feel restored (it might take a few days), do them again. Add them to your Five Tibetan Rites. With these two exercises alone, you can get into and keep yourself in amazing shape. And by “amazing shape,” I mean being fit so you can stay active in your life. Able to keep up with your kids, keep your heart healthy, and put on a little more muscle so your body is always burning energy. It’ll also help keep you feeling spry and light on your feet, which will get you more active in general. Try it once and see what you think.

10 replies to “The Hard Way”

I travel pretty much all the time, and one of the things I miss most about being stable is my gym membership. At the moment I do push ups, dips and leg raises in the mornings (so long as there’s floorspace wherever I’m staying), but the hardest thing I find to incorporate is any sort of cardio. Now that the snow (in Canada) is melting, I’ll get chance to do a bit of jogging, but I’m really interested in the Five Tibetans. I’d never heard of them before you mentioned them in a previous video. I think I might *just* have room to spin around in my front room here without breaking anything… or myself! So I’ll give those a try, too. Thanks for the tips, man!

This is of tremendous interest to me. Thanks for sharing the Five Tibetans. Very simple and powerful sequence.

Lunges are great, but what about full squats? Or really, just lying down on the floor and standing up again. Changes your blood pressure completely, uses your core, etc. In fact, a team of researchers were looking for away to evaluate mortality risks in the developing world without expensive tests. The test they came up with: Can someone get up off the floor without using their hands?

I can squat over 350 lbs and deadlift over 300 lbs (sorry about the brag) and yet I HATE lunges. They are my enemy. Even despite my strength and flexibility, I just never like lunges. But I do try my best to just do them because you are absolutely right as to their effectiveness.
And just in general life, getting exercise just carries so many additional benefits. I have found that my writing and my skills that support my writing have benefits gained from routinely working out. I am excessive with 6 days a week over an hour each day, but even 30 minutes 3 days a week has huge benefits. Have you seen the same thing with respect to your writing?

I agree with you on walking. It’s good, but if that’s all you’re doing it’s going to get you only minimally fit. Lunges are tough and much more beneficial. I used to go to the gym but never really liked it, didn’t like the machines and their intricacies. A few years ago I switched to DVD’s and now I work out at home in a small space, combining P90X with Yoga and find that equipment (other than some hand weights) is unnecessary–your own body used correctly can make you incredibly fit. I love Yoga (particularly Power Yoga) because it provides strength, balance, flexibility and breath training and, in my opinion, provides the best overall workout and is particularly vital (esp, the balance and flexibility) as you get older. I do spend an hour plus most days and often go longer, but you can in great shape in less time. I’ve just kind of gotten addicted to it at this point. I think the most important thing is to find a practice or workout you like and stick with it. Almost anything that makes you sweat and provides cardio and strength when practiced consistently will get you where you want to be.

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