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The Best Home Workout and Exercise Programs for Your New Year’s Resolution

Posted Dec 29 2008 7:31pm

  best-home-exercise  

This week I will focus on everyone’s favorite topic of the moment – home exercise programs and home fitness equipment – just in time for New Year’s resolutions!  I was going to write this post awhile back but thought it would be better suited for this week.  I have put together a list of my favorite home exercise equipment and programs after years of trying many out myself.  There will be three posts, this one on home exercise workouts, and two upcoming this week on the best home fitness equipment and the best sport nutrition products.

I enjoy this area of fitness and strength and conditioning, both personally and professionally.  Not only do I research these topics for recommendations to my athletes and patients, but also for myself.  I am a sucker for the infomercial product (who doesn’t want a Magic Bullet or Shamwow!?!) but, don’t be afraid of gimmicks or scams, I personally recommend everything on this list and if you know me at all, you know that I put a lot of research into these products before trying.

Before I begin, some disclaimers!

  • I am not recommending these programs for everyone, consult with your physician before starting any exercise, nutrition, or supplementation program.
  • None of these home exercise programs or equipment will give you a rock hard 6-pack or a chiseled chest.  Lets be realistic here, don’t fall for the hype.  These are very good programs and equipment that COULD help you obtain these goals if you stick to a very strict diet and nutrition plan. 
  • In an attempt to not alienate my strength & conditioning readers, I do want to say that working out with a partner, fitness expert, or strength & conditioning specialist is always more ideal than an unsupervised home exercise program.  But I also understand the busy lifestyle of some people, especially those that travel for work.
  • The goal of these posts is to provide you recommendations on what I have used and would recommend to get a great workout, loose some weight, get in shape, and increase your overall health.

 

The Best Home Exercise and Workout Programs

 

P90X

There has never been a home workout program like this before.  Trust me when I say that you will immediately cancel your gym membership when you see how good of a workout you can actually achieve at home with P90X, especially when you have limited time to squeeze in a workout.  The last thing I want to do is waste time commuting to a gym.

I first saw this on an infomercial, and since I tend to watch TV at odd times, as do all my co-workers, we saw this infomercial at least twice a day all summer.  In all honesty, this is by far the best and most comprehensive home exercise program ever produce.  Designed and hosted by Tony Horton, the program contains 13 DVDs of various programs with a very detailed manual of the program and nutrition plan.  Tony seems great, but I must admit I often mute his instruction.  If you follow this program to the letter, I have no doubt you will be able to be one of those people with the before and after photos on the commercial. 

I personally could not follow the program as described.  The program has a 7-day routine of workouts ranging from 60-90 minutes in length.  I could just not make this much of a commitment.  But I still loved the program and love the workouts, many of which I have and will continue to incorporate into my athletes’ programs.  I just do them at my own pace and do not expect to see my abs any time soon.  The program is advanced and would work great for athletes, but also has variations to be able to include people just starting out with a home fitness program.

The concept of the P90X program is simple, yet highly effective, and involves what they call “muscle confusion.”  All that this means is that you will perform many different exercises for each muscle group and you will continuously change your program every month, rather than just performing the same old program.  This makes sense scientifically and did appeal to me psychologically.

The program has several DVDs for each muscle group, but what really sets it apart is they combination of many different areas of fitness, including DVDs on plyometrics, yoga, stretching, kenpo, and core.  My hands down favorite is the Cardio X program, which basically brings you through a high intensity combination of nonstop stretching, yoga, kenpo, plyometrics, and other moves to keep your heart rate up.

The P90X program has 70 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.5/5 stars, that is pretty good, so it is not just me that loves the program!

Youtube is full of videos of P90X results.  Check out this video, love the fact that he is working out in the laundry room:

 

P90X Plus

If you are a graduate of the P90X program, P90X Plus is the continuation if you are looking for new workouts.  I wouldn't suggest this on it’s own, but if you are a fan of the original, this is a good addition.  5 more workouts on 4 DVDs.

 

10 Minute Trainer

This is a slimmed down version of workout programs, also designed by Tony Horton of P90X fame.  If you are really limited on time, this is the program for you.  Comes with 8 different workouts on 2 DVDs.  Also comes with all you need for home workouts or traveling with resistance bands, meal plans, and workout schedule.  Not bad for the truly busy person or if new to exercise, the 10-Minute Trainer Program is based on boasting your metabolism so you will see a benefit.

 

Yoga

I am a big fan of Yoga.  Flexibility and balance is great for athletes and people with a desk job.  I would bet that if everyone started performing yoga, there would be a large reduction in overuse injuries such as low back pain.

I am not the most flexible person, so I like DVDs designed for people like me, such as Yoga For Beginners and Yoga For Inflexible People.  I also follow the routine by Rodney Yee in AM and PM Yoga.  For advanced users, Rodney also has a total body workout yoga DVD called Power Yoga that is good, you can use it between your strength days with P90X.  Not sure why, but I like Rodney’s programs.

Here is the video introduction to AM/PM Yoga by Rodney Yee:

 

Core Performance

You may not know his name, but Mark Verstegan is the man behind the elite workout center for athletes in Arizona, Athlete’s Performance.  Lucky for people like you and I that don’t have million dollar salaries, Mark has shared his secrets with us through a series of books and DVDs in the Core Performance Series.  Great collection of information and workouts that will likely be new to you.  Mark takes the concepts of athletic function one step further in his programs and designs workouts that will allow you to not only look and feel better, but perform better.  Check out a few of my favorites from the series:

  • Core Performance: The original book that started it all, highly recommended.
  • Core Performance Essentials: There are no excuses for not working out with this stripped down, yet highly effective program for the busier type of person.
  • Core Performance Endurance: A new fitness and nutrition program for the endurance athlete or those just looking to slim and not gain bulk.
  • Core Performance Golf: A specific adaption of the principles of Core Performance designed to enhance your golf game.  Also has a nice Core Performance for Golf DVD that demonstrates the program.  The DVD is great and there are also variations for baseball and soccer.  These DVDs are excellent for the young athlete looking for a competitive advantage that the pros use.

Here is a video clip of Mark and one of his exercise progressions:

 

Abs Diet

The Abs Diet is actually anything but a diet, it is a concept, a life decision almost.  There is NO starving involved.  That is exactly what author David Zinczenko, the editor of Men’s Health Magazine, conveys in the beginning of the book.  He openly admits that the title was developed by the editors of the book and not himself.  I loved this tactic and believe he is sincere.  The book absolutely changed the way I think about food and how I eat.  Again, this is not a diet in anyway, it is nutritional education so that you can make educated decisions about what food to consume and why.  The book is packed with research studies, which really put it over the edge for me. 

The concept behind the Abs Diet book is to consume food that is 1) good for you, 2) will help you burn fat and eat less, 3) will help you put on muscle mass, 4) and will also reward you for many other health benefits. 

Image all those little nutrition tips over the years from Men’s Health put together into a specific nutrition plan.  The best part to me was that this was very easy to accomplish and keep up with.  I will warn you that he is a big fan of shakes, so but a Magic Bullet too (that thing is great, isn’t it?)!

Besides the nutritional information, the book actually is also built around a specific exercise concept that involves fast paced workouts with minimal breaks to keep your heart rate up.  The exercise routine is about 30 minutes in length, which is what I prefer.  This is basically the same principle as P90X so the two have gone really well together for me.  I combine the workouts of P90X with the nutrition and philosophy of the Abs Diet.  David also discusses cardio work and the negative gains in muscle size with too much cardio, really great information.  In addition, there are a ton of exercises and nutritional information, including recopies.

With the huge success of the book, there have been many spin offs, all of which I believe have been New York Times Bestsellers.  I like the books that discuss nutrition and recipes, and the DVD is valuable for the novice:

Here is a video clip from the workout DVD explaining it a little bit:

 

Maximum Strength

Maximum Strength is a 16-week program developed by Eric Cressey, who you may have heard me talk about before (his blog is in my blog roll).  I have really been impressed with Eric and his work after meeting him last spring.  You can find him all over the place speaking and writing for several magazines and websites.  Although already established, definitely will continue to develop a following.  I haven’t actually followed this program but intend to give it a shot after hearing people rave about it.  Maximum Strength has a 5 star rating with 14 reviews in Amazon, can’t beat that!

 

I hope that you find these suggestions helpful, I know that all of these products have worked for me and my busy lifestyle.  Does anyone have any experience with these programs as well?  What else would you recommend?

Don’t forget that I will be posting on the Best Home Fitness Equipment and the Best Sports Nutrition products over the course of the week to help you with your New Year’s resolution!

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