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In his book, The Micro-Workout Plan, Tom Holland shows us how short duration workouts can add up to huge fitness gains.
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Tom, welcome to 40+ Fitness.
Oh, great to be with you.
You know, as trainers, we know the number one reason that most people give us that, you know, I can't work out. I don't have time to work out. That's the reasons. I just don't have enough time in the day. I think with a lot of people idled during the pandemic stuff, they had a lot more time. But then they didn't have a gym.
And so, you know, there's a second reason and I actually struggle with that too. Cause I'm one of those guys that become a gym rat, I love going in the gym and pushing bigger weights can and still do this at home. But your book, but The Micro Workout Plan: Get the Body You Want Without the Gym in 15 Minutes or Less a Day, is really, really cool. I think this solves both problems pretty quickly. And you've got like 30 workouts in there. They give a lot of variety and a lot of opportunity and they're all things that we can do basically with nothing more than bodyweight and dumbbells.
Yeah. And you know, I'm like you, Allan, I still go to the gym. I love going to the gym. I've been, you know, spent the better part of my life in a gym, but you know, it's an adjunct, right? So as you know, it's what we do outside the gym that really matters as well. It's both that are important. So yeah, this new book really excited just came out a couple of weeks ago, and it's to help those people that, you know, as well will say, Hey, you know, I don't always want to go to the gym or I don't want to go to the gym and I just want to feel better. I want to look a little better on a, lose a couple pounds. I don't want to be in pain. I want to be able to go golf or do whatever I do without pain. So, you know, I know a lot of people will hear micro workouts in 15 minutes, but if you think about it you know, we're generally, even if you go to the gym, you're doing like five minutes of abs, and five minutes of arms and five minutes of chest, which kind of just breaks it down into manageable chunks and you can do five, you can do 25. It's just making it accessible and easier for the average person.
Yeah. You know, I train online as well as in the gym. And you know, most of my clients that are online are online because they don't want to go to the gym so you don't have to go to the gym. And that's what's I think is really good about all this is, these are all things that you can do in your garage, in your living room. Really, really simple but effective exercises. I really liked the workouts that you have in here. Now in the book you, you go through and identify the five components of fitness. Would you mind going through those?
Yeah. So, you know, back when I was studying for all this, the certifications and then went on to get a master's degree and they talk about constantly these five components of fitness. And, you know, most people, I would argue, Allan are doing one, right. And it's what they generally love to do and what they're genetically predisposed to do. But for those people who don't know, it's you know, muscular strength, you know, lifting heavy things, muscular endurance, being able to do it for a longer period of time, cardiovascular endurance, so basic heart health. And then you have flexibility and there's a lot of debate about that. I'm sure you've done numerous shows and you know, constantly we're talking about importance or, you know, when and where about flexibility and then the steps would be body composition so that, you know, the amount of body fat you have and just your body composition as far as body mass and body fat. So all five of those things are important Allan. And most people again do one, maybe two consistently, and we need to do all five.
Yes, I agree. And I would throw a sixth in there if you don't mind. I put balance, you know, as we get older and you've mentioned this in the book, you know, if we're building strength we're more resilient for the fall, but you can also train some balance in there too. So I always throw in balance because.
We are totally aligned Allan. I just did a show myself about that very thing. There should be a sixth component. So I'm a hundred percent with you and I'm surprised that they didn't include it. And I think they should going forward. Absolutely.
Yeah. Well, you know I guess what, you know, 20 years ago, no one over the age of 40 would have even thought about working out. And so now it's, you know, as we have the baby boomers coming through, you know, there's a larger and larger contingent of people that are over 50, over 60, over 70 and even though we're 80, that are still training and active. So, yeah, that's all going to come about. And all of these are really important for us to train. And you have workouts across the board that do those, which is really cool. Now I liked one thing that you put in the book because this is the way we use our words, you know, when I was an auditor I always knew the way I wrote an audit report was really, really important. The words I used in that audit report, how they would affect the audit committee, how they would affect management. And so you spend a lot of time working on the words that you use in report. And then when I started training people, I realized, wait, it's, this is kind of the same thing. If, if I'm using the wrong words, then that doesn't work. If they're using the wrong words, I kind of have to pick up on that. But you list two words in the book that are really, really important for people to avoid.
Yeah. It's ONLY, and JUST. And, you know, I even find myself slipping occasionally and using them obviously in a different way but in the wrong way. So when people say Allan, you know, I only walked two miles today, or I just did, you know, three minutes of stretching. My response is you have to take those words out of your vocabulary because science just contradicts it. So, you know, I always use the example of three, 10 minutes, bouts of exercise, use cardio, as an example, has the exact same benefit as one continuous 30 minute bout. And I would say, and I'm sure you'd agree to it. Actually, if you do three 10 minute bouts, you can actually push yourself a little harder, depending on what you're doing. So there is no workout that is too short and, you know, minutes literally matter when it comes to overall health and wellness and you don't have to do an hour, you don't have to do a half an hour. And it's what you do throughout the day. Again, that truly, that all adds up.
Yeah. As you put in the book, the government guidelines, you know, they're going to say we should do 150 minutes at, or 75 minutes at, you know, extreme or intense. But there's no magic to that. There's no, it doesn't all have to be done in one workout. You know, it's not like you, you need to put that two and a half hours in, in one hour increments or even half hour increments at that point. Your book in the exercise you have in there, there are five minute blocks. And they allow you to pick and choose so that you're getting across all those different components of fitness we talked about. And then with that, this now kind of defines your fitness perspective, philosophy that you call excessive moderation. Could you describe that for us?
Yeah. I love talking about this. It's just over the years, what I've found is, you know, the secret to talking to TV soundbites is not doing most people do a lot of exercise a little, right? New Years rolls around, you get all motivated. You go to the gym, we all know we're all guilty of that at some point in our lives. And you do a lot for a short amount of time and either get burnt out, injured, or generally both. And then you don't do anything. And the true secret, if there is one, and I don't even like using that term, but it's doing a little bit, a lot. So that's where the whole philosophy of excessive moderation and shorter workouts done throughout the day it's being consistent. And you and I talked about that, you know, before the show even started, it's about consistency. That is my most important metric. And was back when I was a trainer, is just show up. That's the most important thing is how many times you exercise, then we can talk about, you know, what you're doing, but showing up, not just in fitness in life is one of the major keys to success.
Oh yeah. Showing up is 90%. If you're there, you know, that's what I tell some clients, you know, they'll tell me they're just not quite motivated. And I'm like, okay, go to go get on the elliptical. If that's what you got in your basement, get on that elliptical, get on the rower and go for five minutes.
And after five minutes, if you're not feeling it any more, cool, just wrap it up, go take a shower and go to work. But most people find is they get in there for that five minutes. Like I said, if they did a five minute block of one of your workouts, then immediately, they're probably gonna, you know if they have the time they're gonna want to go ahead and say, well, I did that. I did that cardio work, I'll go ahead and do a stretching block.
Yes. Yeah. It leads to more, it's a snowball effect. And that's why you just have to get out the door right back when I was doing iron man, I still do them, but you know, truly racing and you know, we're not motivated all the time. You and I, and you go, I just have to get out the door. I know that in three, four, 15 minutes, it's going to start feeling really good.
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Yeah. When I was training for a marathon, and I was in Washington, DC and the gym I went to, they had a limit of 20 minutes on any 1 machine. So I'm like, I need to train for time. And so I just say, okay, well, I'm going to do this 20 minute block. And so I put my name on the list and then I do my 20 minute block. And then as soon as I finished the 20 minutes, I just looked for another machine that was open. And then I go do a 20 minute block there and another 20 minute block there and another. And so as a cross training that was happening because there's just different types of machines, you know, climber, rower, all kinds of stuff. And what I found was that, you know, I do a 20 minute block and I'd say, okay, well, I could just quit right now. But it just kinda got into my blood. It's like, no, I can, I've got 20 minutes. I can go do another block until they kicked me out of the gym, which happened.
Well, let me give you a funny story about that is back, you know, I started as a trainer for many years and then working for different fitness equipment companies that consultant, and I learned that all of those machines have codes. Cheat codes, where you can hack into the machine. And you know, if it's set for 20 minutes, you could hack into it and make it go continuous. So back when I was training and you know, occasionally you do like a 20 minute or 20 mile run at the gym. Now, obviously, you know, someone could come up and kick you off, but I would hack into the machine so that it would go, cause I wanted full credit. Allan, I didn't want to do like a 10 mile, 15 mile run and not see 15. It's a mental thing, right?
Yeah, it is. It is. Well, what they did was they had a sign up sheet and yeah, the machine only went to 20 minutes. So they had all 20 minute blocks. And so they told you that you go on you write your name and then you do the 20 minute block and you set your time. And people would be walking over, looking over your shoulder, employees and other people that wanted to use the machine because they were on the list and it was a very busy gym. There was a reason that they only gave us 20 minutes, but I was just like, okay, I'll go off of this machine, go there. And for me again, I was looking at, it was time. I was not training for distance because I said, you know, for me to be able to do something, it's really building that endurance to just be able to keep going.
Yeah, that goes both ways Allan. And now I have to chunk it. So if you think, if you are doing a longer day, you go, Oh, I gotta be on this for an extended period of time. He say, well, no, I'm going to break it down into three 20 minute chunks or whatever that makes it. So there's so much of the mental game that is involved in what we're talking about. And you have to figure out those tips and tricks that work for you.
Yeah. So we talked about consistency, but there are two other, I guess, what I would call attributes of excessive moderation and that's quality and intensity. Could you talk about why those are so important?
Yeah. You know, I just did, I was talking, I talk frequently about like, you know, there's new thing as many reps as possible and things like that. I don't care how many pushups I do. I don't care how much weight I lift. Oftentimes when I am in the gym, people will come up to me and say, are you hurt the last, because I'm doing dumbbell curls with 20 or 25 pounds, but I'm about quality. You know, if the goal is to activate muscle fibers, you actually want to make it challenging. Right? So if I can do a hundred really bad pushups or I can do 30 really good ones. And if my goal is to change my body and to be healthy, I don't care about the number. So that goes to the quality of the exercise. You know, form is everything to me. And then intensity, we need to vary those things as well. Whether you have your easy day or your hard day. And that's why if you're doing a 5, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, with a cardio blast, if you're doing true tabata, that's four minutes of brutal anaerobic work. So the shorter we go, if your goal is to maximize your time, then the intensity goes up, but we need variation in that as well.
Yeah. For a lot of people, they would think that quality and intensity kind of contradict each other. But if you watched the CrossFit workout where AMRAP, people just flopping around and you know, I'm like, okay, that's great until you break, so you got to have the quality of the movement. And then yeah, we've got to go to an intensity where we're pushing ourselves. But we're not going to change, you know, we need that stimulus to change. So that's enough if you don't do it right, you're risking hurting yourself and you know, over 40 you hurt yourself. That's a setback, that's a setback you don't want to have.
Absolutely. And that is the secret to, you know, there's the top three things that I'm all about. It's the access of moderation, but it's also not getting injured. You know, our job in the fitness industry are threefold it's to get people the greatest results in the shortest amount of time with the least likelihood of injury. And that third component is oftentimes left out. A, because you know, the fitness professional doesn't know or B, they're just, you know, they're falling prey to their ego and what the client wants, but, you know, I've done an insane number of races in my life, but I'm injury free because it's about quality over quantity. There are exercises I just won't do because the cost benefit doesn't make any sense to me. I go, why would I do that? You know, when the risk of hurting myself is so high and the benefit is really not there either. So, you know, there's too many exercises to choose from Allan.
Yeah. And that's why that's one of the areas I've, I guess I'd say I've always struggled. I'm not going to say I'll ever get over this, but it's that ego over capacity. And so, you know, I tore a rotator cuff training for a Spartan because I just wanted to get really, really strong. And as I got really, really strong working with my trainer and you start moving heavier weights and heavier dumbbells, and I was like, I'm just going to do overhead press with heavy, heavy dumbbells and pop there goes that arm.
Yeah. And we all have those moments and hopefully we learn from them sooner rather than later. And it just happens. We're going to have those obstacles and it's human nature, right. To compete.
Yeah. Which is why when you were talking about your timing, your tempo of your lifts. You know, the concentric is fast and the eccentric is slow. So you're doing a two to four count. And I'll tell you, when you take half of the weight that you would normally use on any kind of work and you go two seconds up and four seconds back, that's intense.
Yes. And you know, it's so crazy. Allan is my first true fitness job back when I was about 18, 19 years old was a summer job at a Nautilus facility. And it was the old school, you know, I'm 51 going way back, but it was the old school machines that Arthur Jones came up with. And we were taught, I was taught for the two, four second counts. And to this day, I still do this. And the crazy thing you talk about coming full circle is now I'm the fitness advisor for Nautilus, but from, you know, age 18, it was just it made sense to me to have that slower repetition. Isn't that to be perfectly six seconds, but just contracting and controlling that movement throughout the entire range of motion.
Yeah. Now another way that we can get excessive moderation is just looking at ways that we wouldn't necessarily call a workout. And that might mean, you know, parking the car a little bit further away from the building, using a flight of stairs or two flights of stairs rather than the elevator. And I think with the social distancing, that's probably gonna be happening a lot more. But the term is called NEAT. It's an acronym. Could you kind of go into NEAT what it is and why it's important?
Yeah. And I think it's, so it needs to be talked about so much more so as we are doing the show, I am walking around, I have a standing desk and I am always moving and that adds up. So it does come down to simple math. Let's assume a person goes to the gym three times a week for an hour, and is on the cardio machine for 30 minutes out of that, you know, they're going to burn 10 thousand calories or what the number is so it matters. And that helps, but it's what happens outside the gym, as we were talking about earlier, that adds up enormously as well. So, you know, non-exercise activity, thermogenesis is what that acronym stands for. And it's basically the calories we burn while fidgeting, while you know, just the movement we do throughout the day. That seems so insignificant, but it goes down to Allan, we all have those friends who you go, how is that person? So skinny, you know, I see what they eat and they might not be going to the gym as much, or if at all, but they are moving and burning hundreds, if not a thousand calories or more per day than someone who is not doing those things. So just that movement that we may consider to be insignificant really matters. And, you know, the modern day environment has taken almost all of that out, which is a huge problem, as we know.
Yeah, there's a term called eating like a bird. And its that you're not eating at all, but birds eat a lot, but they're moving so much. It's kind of, they used it backwards if you're eating like a bird, which we are, you need to move around a lot to burn off that food. And unfortunately we're eating like, we're actually eating like birds, but not eating like birds.
That's a perfect analogy. That's so, yeah, exactly. Right.
Tom, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
Three tactics to stay well. So I would say, and start with what I start my new book with, is that you have to believe you have control. You know, we have to start from that. You know, so many people due to bad information and bad articles and bad science is the belief that their genetics and their situation has predetermined them. And they'll never be the healthy weight. They'll never be able to achieve what they want. And my lifetime has shown, you know, clients who have so far exceeded expectations. So it's that first belief that, Hey, you know, you have control, there are three things we control. How much we move, what we put into our mouth and our state of mind. And that's amazing. So you have to start with that, and then you just have to experiment, you know, when people say to us Allan that they don't like exercise you.
And I both know that that means they haven't found what they enjoy yet. And it just takes, you know, trial and error to get there. And then finally, and that goes for food too, by the way, healthy food, healthy exercise, you just have to experiment. There's so many options for everybody. There's no one way. And then finally we don't, unfortunately, you know, success in exercise has been two-fold. It's the number on the scale. And it's what you see in the mirror. And if today's pandemic, doesn't teach us completely how important being healthy is eating healthy, you know, our immune system, exercise. So you don't judge the success of your fitness program based on a number on a scale. And it's about, as you said, feeling good, being happy and living a long, healthy life. And we're going to be 60, 70, 80, 90 years old. I want those years to be quality years and enjoying everything that I want to. So that's what it comes down to.
Cool. Thank you for sharing that, Tom, if someone wanted to learn more about you, more about the book, The Micro Workout Plan, where would you like for me to send them?
Great. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/438, and I'll be sure to have the links there. So Tom, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
So great to speak with you. And I'm very jealous that you're in Panama to say you figured it out fitness and Panama. So, congrats. That's awesome.
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