Project Louise: The Zombie Workout Adds Strength Training

Back to the gym at last! I’ve been working out, far too sporadically and half-heartedly, at home, mostly doing my zombie workout on the treadmill. But as the cooler temperatures have been reminding me that year’s (and Project’s) end draws ever nearer, I knew it was time to get serious. And that meant a call to Trainer Rick.

Rick DiScipio is a kind, patient trainer who always manages to push me without making me feel guilty for not having pushed myself. So, even though I’d been neglecting him for months, he happily scheduled a session and walked me through a simple routine. Because he knew I've managed to do some cardio on my own, we decided to focus on some very simple strength training.

The key this time is that it’s all something I can do at home – no more using “no time to get to the gym” as my excuse for not doing a real workout. And Rick suggested that I set a small goal for the first couple of weeks. “Just do it twice a week,” he said. “That’s all. Just twice a week. What you need is to develop the habit.”

What I also need, I’m discovering, is a sense of community – a sense that other people are on this journey with me. So here’s my routine. I hope you’ll join in (assuming your doctor wouldn't object, of course). Just twice a week.

First, a couple of notes. I don’t know about you, but I have torn out pages of suggested workouts from magazines, bookmarked routines online, bought videos, picked up flyers … and never done any of them. So I am deliberately not making this fancy, because I don’t want you to bookmark it or print it out and then never do it.

Instead, I want you to read through it, realize how ridiculously simple it is, and then try it just once.

Once you do it, you’ll realize you don’t need pretty pictures or detailed instructions; it’s just a few simple moves that you can remember and do a few times a week. Just twice to start! And if you want to build from there, just do it every other day, and do some simple cardio – like, a walk! – on the other days.

Also, you don’t need much equipment for this, but Rick does call for a set of resistance bands, a 10-pound dumbbell, and a stability ball. I think that’s a very reasonable investment – especially compared with a gym membership or that pile of videos I never use.

So here we go.

After you walk or jump or move around for a few minutes to warm up, you’ll be doing a few leg exercises with a stability band. They’re coded by color; green is the easiest, so start with that. Put it around your ankles. You’ll be doing three different moves.

  1. Sideways step: Start with feet just far enough apart to keep the band from slipping down. Move your left foot to the side as far as you can, then bring the right foot toward it while maintaining tension. Repeat all the way across the room, then reverse.
  2. Monster walk: From the same starting position, step forward and out with your left foot, then your right. Keep the tension on the band the whole time, and think of Frankenstein – you want that kind of lurching feeling. Keeping your elbows bent at your sides helps you focus on that.
  3. Up-and-overs: I admit, I hate these. But that’s because I feel them working. From the starting position, bend your left knee to lift your foot about 12 inches off the ground and then step out to the left – it’s as if you’re going over a log. Bring your right foot over to starting position and repeat, across the room. Then reverse.

Still with me? OK, take off the bands and pick up the dumbbell. Just one move with this one.

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold the dumbbell with both hands, hanging down at the center of your body. Now squat and, as you push back up, swing the dumbbell up to about chest height. As you squat back down, swing it back down. Do this 10 times.

Put the dumbbell down and pick up the stability ball. Find a nice clear wall and turn your back to it. Put the ball between you and the wall, around the middle of your back. Slowly squat down as far as you can, letting the ball roll down the wall with you, and then rise back up. Repeat 12 times.

Put the ball down and turn to face the wall. Stand at arm’s length away, with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your elbows and move toward the wall, then push back – these are basically push-ups for beginners. Do 12.

Finally, something for your abs. You pick: Get into plank position, i.e. the standard pushup pose on the floor; or put your forearms on the stability ball to do a killer plank that works your balance as well as your abs; or do some crunches. Let’s say 12 crunches, or hold your plank for as long as you can – but keep breathing!

That’s it. For extra credit, do the whole circuit again. And then cool down a bit, maybe stretch a little, and you’re done.

Did I mention you can do this in your pajamas? And yeah, that’s another reason I’m not posting any pictures. But it’s also the reason I’m getting it done.

Let me know how it works for you.

Headshot of Louise Kennedy

Louise Kennedy Contributor
Louise Kennedy previously worked with The ARTery and as editor of Edify.



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