The 1-2-3 Approach to Sustainable Fitness

move Apr 01, 2024
The 1-2-3 Approach to Sustainable Fitness

There are a lot of programs and trainers out there that make fitness complicated. We know there’s a lot of science behind a good workout, but that doesn’t mean you should need a doctorate to get your body the movement it needs.

Exercising consistently should be simple and doable. That’s why we came up with the 1-2-3 Workout Approach. It’s straightforward, and gives great results for a short amount of weekly time investment. It also calls out a common exercise fallacy.

Keep reading for the exercise plan, its benefits, and practical steps to make effective movement a part of your routine.

The 1-2-3 Workout Approach

The path to fitness can be confusing, especially with the overload of conflicting information on exercise and nutrition that’s out there. We’re told we need to exercise for hours a day in a gym, so every year we make resolutions to do better with our workout routine. Sadly, our goals are often left unmet, leaving us discouraged and disillusioned.

The goal of the 1-2-3 Workout Approach is to help you channel your enthusiasm into a realistic game plan—one that’s achievable, effective, and, most importantly, sustainable. Here’s what the mindset behind that looks like.

Step 1: Define Your Motivation

Understanding the driving force behind your decision to start an exercise program is crucial. The emotional connection to your goals can be a powerful motivator. Whether it’s the desire to spend more time as a family, a way to keep you accountable as you workout for more energy and less fat, because you want yourself and your family to be healthy for the long-term, or all three, identifying these motivations and keeping them in a visible place can help you stay on track. Especially on the days when you question why you wanted to do this in the first place.

Step 2: Think Long-Term

When tackling this kind of “maintenance” goal, short-term results should never be the main focus. Movement provides exponentially beneficial results for years into the future, IF it’s done regularly and for the long-term.

That’s why it’s important to keep those long-term benefits in mind when working out. Losing a few pounds can be a great motivator, and is part of the reason we work out, but if that’s the only reason, you’ll take your foot off the gas after those initial results and miss out on the years of benefits movement can give you.

It can also take time for results to manifest. If it took years for damage to be done, it will take time to undo that damage.

The key here is to be much more focused on continuing the habit of adequate movement than on short-term results. Consider it a win if you stay consistent week after week, not just if you lose a few pounds or start experiencing more energy. That way you’re guaranteed to win over the long-term.

Step 3: Set Realistic Goals

Because getting consistent movement isn’t just about reaching one goal and then checking a box, goals are just a helpful way to measure your progress and stay motivated. Movement is a lifestyle, so while short-term goals help us take the next steps, you’ll need to resist the temptation to bite off more than you can chew.

That being said, you want to lose 20 pounds this year? Or reduce your diabetes or heart attack risk? Awesome. Just make sure unrealistic goals aren’t causing you to give up on this critical habit.

A Reality Check: Two Workouts a Week

Contrary to common myths about having to work out hardcore four or five times a week, incorporating two well-designed workouts a week can yield amazing results. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym. In fact, overtraining can actually hinder progress. The key is consistency over the long term, not just for a few months, so fewer workouts might actually be your secret to a lifestyle of sustainable movement.

Introducing the 1-2-3 Approach

The 1-2-3 Approach is about elevating your metabolism through small changes in eating habits and two effective workouts per week using our 3 Cycle Training program (we’ll talk about diet another time, so we’ll just focus on the workouts for now). These workouts challenge your body’s systems, promoting adaptation processes that lead to improved fitness and reduced body fat over time.

There’s nothing especially special about this workout. No secrets, no hype. Just a scientifically backed and practical approach to enhance your metabolism using the correct volume of exercise. The 1-2-3 Approach is designed for sustainability and effectiveness in achieving your fitness goals.

The 3 Steps of the Workout

1. Warm up 10-20 min

  • Think Movement not Exercise
  • This step helps reduce injury

2. Weight Training 10-20 min

  • 10-15 reps to full exertion at end of set (adjust weight accordingly)
  • This step helps build muscle

3. HIIT Workout (High Intensity Interval Training) 10-20 min

  • Think explosive, be intentional with your cool downs
  • This step focuses on burning fat

This is the basic template you can use every month to incorporate meaningful exercise into your routine. It’s simple, but powerful. Below is an example with some actual exercise ideas filled in.

Example of the 3 Steps of a Workout

1. Warm up 10-20 min

  1. Pop Squats: (Squatting)
    • Jump your feet out into a wide squat position, then quickly jump them back together. Repeat in a continuous, fluid motion.
  2. Mountain Climbers: (Pushing)
    • Begin in a plank position and bring your knees toward your chest in a running motion. This exercise targets the core and also gets your heart pumping.
  3. Twist and Punch: (Twisting)
    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Rotate your torso to one side while simultaneously punching with the opposite arm. Alternate sides.
  4. Lateral Band Pull-Aparts: (Pulling)
    • Hold a resistance band (or towel) with both hands in front of you and pull the band apart laterally, engaging your back and shoulders.

Repeat the same sequence for the second set.

  1. Pop Squats: (Squatting) Repeat for 1 minute.
  2. Mountain Climbers: (Pushing) Continue for 1 minute.
  3. Twist and Punch: (Twisting) Continue for 1 minute.
  4. Lateral Band Pull-Aparts: (Pulling) Continue for 1 minute.

2. Weight Training 10-20 min

  1. Dumbbell Lunges: (Squatting) 10-15 reps
    • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides. Step forward into a lunge, then return to the starting position and switch legs.
  2. Arnold Press: (Pushing) 10-15 reps
    • Sit with a dumbbell in each hand, starting with palms facing you. Rotate your palms outward as you press the dumbbells overhead.
  3. Reverse Flyes: (Pulling) 10-15 reps
    • Lie on an incline bench or stand with a slight bend in your knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and lift the dumbbells out to the sides, targeting the rear shoulders.
  4. Standing Twists: (Twisting) 10-15 reps
    • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands. Twist your torso side to side while keeping your lower body stable.

Rest for 1 minute between sets.

Repeat the same sequence for the second set.

  1.  Dumbbell Lunges: (Squatting) 10-15 reps
  2.  Arnold Press: (Pushing) 10-15 reps
  3. Reverse Flyes: (Pulling) 10-15 reps
  4.  Standing Twists: (Twisting) 10-15 reps

Cool Down.

3. HIIT Workout (High Intensity Interval Training) 10-20 min

  1. Exercise Bike/Treadmill/Elliptical/Running (30-60 seconds):
    • Sprint or pedal at maximum effort. On a treadmill or elliptical, increase the speed or resistance. If running outdoors, sprint as fast as you can.
  2. Cooldown (2 minutes):
    • Slow down the pace to a light jog or brisk walk on the treadmill, decrease resistance on the elliptical or bike, or slow your running pace to a light jog.
  3. Repeat 5 times

Remember to listen to your body, and if you’re new to HIIT or have any health concerns, consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine. Adjust the intensity and duration based on your fitness level and gradually increase as you become more accustomed to the workout.

For more information on this workout, and for ideas for your kids, check out our monthly Upstream Bundle below. We fill in new exercise ideas every month, so you never have to puzzle out what exercises to focus on for your workouts.

Get the Exercise you Need

This simple template can elevate your exercise routine in a matter of weeks. Finally, you have a straightforward, effective exercise plan that doesn’t eat up your entire morning, or have you going to the gym four times a week. In 30-60 minutes twice a week, you can enjoy amazing health benefits over the long-term. But remember, the key is keeping up this workout routine as a part of your lifestyle. Measure your success by how often you’re doing both of your workouts, and not just by how much weight you’re losing or how good you feel. Consistency is the key to long-term health, so get the whole family together, and begin a new chapter of physical vitality.


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