A Training Program for Someone Out of Shape

By Alvin Mason

The first thing I will say is this, you should spend at least half (1/2) the time exercising and trying to improve your health as you spend in the mirror and selecting clothes and accessories trying to look good.

The second thing I will say is you don’t need a partner. Please be serious enough to want to get in shape without having to go to the gym with a friend. When the friend calls and says they are not going to the gym today, will that make you not workout? Too many times people depend on others to exercise. Friends and partners can make you late and/or lazy.

The third thing I want to say is you don’t need the phone except to play music. Some fitness centers have a no talking on the cell phone policy. As you progress you will be frustrated at people sitting on a piece of equipment you are waiting to use texting. You don’t need to talk or text for that one hour. The number of times I have seen someone get a call or text and then abruptly leave. Unless the communication is about someone being sick or about your child you didn’t need to communicate until after the workout.

Every New Year, the fitness centers are full of people who made New Year’s resolutions. By March the gyms and centers are back to normal as people stop coming.

The 3 main reasons that people don’t accomplish their goals or as I say don’t make it, is because they won’t make the time commitment, or they are dependent on a friend, or that _____ phone.

The ideal situation is:

  1. A workout
  2. Breakfast
  3. Devotion

If you can accomplish these before going to work I can almost guarantee your day will go better. Having devotion or your workout during another part of the day is fine, but develop a routine.

First of all persons with health issues should get a clearance from a physician before starting an exercise program.

The Beginning

At the beginning the person with health issues or who might be overweight should only walk. A walking regimen that gradually builds up to 2 miles a day then 2 miles a session. Walking is as good an exercise as anything else when the arms swing. In the beginning walk naturally and don’t worry about exaggerated arm swings.

Within 2 weeks the person should be able to walk 2 miles a day unless there is an injury or a joint problem. You should walk 2 miles 3 times a week or every other day.

After 2 Weeks

In the 3rd week you should walk 2 miles a day outside weather permitting. (Monday-Wednesday-Friday) On Tuesday and Thursday you should walk and run 2 miles on the treadmill. You will run in intervals. In the beginning you might run 10 seconds and walk 50 seconds. The goal is to build up to running 60 seconds and rest by walking 60 seconds. You can add 10 seconds of running per interval every week. The pace of running is comfortable which may be slow. The pace will increase over time.

Physical Handicaps

When walking and or running is not an option due to lower limb or back problems then with the physician’s approval and pain tolerance you should exercise on the stationary bike and the ecliptic machine. Water exercises are also good for people with some handicaps. Walking in a pool and swimming should be attempted. The same concepts as discussed with walking and running with intervals and building up endurance should be used in water exercises. This could entail walking and swimming in intervals.

Early Training Period Rational

The person without health issues who has a goal to get in shape to include losing weight, will also start with walking. If the body is not use to exercising it is important to start slow. The reason one starts slow then increases activity is to minimize injury. An injury to a person just starting out will set you back. One should not exercise when injured. The older you are the more susceptible you are to injuries. So the initial period is getting the body ready for physical training and exertion.

Warning: Never attempt to engage in a rigorous exercise routine in the beginning if you are not in shape. The programs on the infomercials are not for you.

The End of Phase One

By the end of phase one you want to be able to exercise for 1 hour. That means scheduling your day to allow one hour of exercise and conditioning your body to be able to exercise for 1 hour. The investment of 1 hour of your day 5 to 6 days a week will bring more dividends in all aspects of your life.

I suggest that by the end of phase one you have equipment at home or be a member of a fitness facility. Many communities have fitness centers for residents. Also many worksites have fitness centers. Having access to a fitness center will allow you to complete the 3 in 1. Three exercises in one hour.

What the hour will entail at the end of period one is a 20 minute easy run, then 20 minutes of a stationary bike, followed by 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. When you have time constraints than you cut the time for each proportionately. For example if you only have 30 minutes then each exercise would be 10 minutes.

At this stage of getting into shape the run is easy and the tension on the bike and elliptical are light or easy. We will progress to higher tensions soon.

You should follow this routine for 2 weeks before moving to phase 2.

Phase Two

The second phase of this training program adds more intense cardio and flexibility.

By this time your mind and body are use to exercise. You are still going to exercise between 30 and 60 minutes a day.

In the beginning of phase 2 you will complete 30 minute of the 3 in 1. 10 minute walk or easy run, 10 minutes on the stationary bike and 10 minutes on the elliptical machine. This will allow for 30 minutes of flexibility (stretching). In the beginning you will need 30 minutes as you slowly progress to stretching muscles that have not been used in this way. Later you will be able to complete a flexibility regimen in 10 to 20 minutes after a proper warmup.

By this time you have progressed to the point that your mind and body can comfortably handle your exercise routine. So this is where we add the flexibility component.

The Neck

  1. Begin by moving your neck from the head left to right and right to left. Your face remains to the front. (5 to 10 times)
  2. Rotate your neck and head in circles from left to right then right to left. (5 to 10 times)
  3. Repeat # 1
  4. Focus on an object to your left and to your right. If a clock were on the floor or ceiling looking straight ahead is 12 o’clock, move your face and neck from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock and back to 9 then to 3. (5 to 10 times)

    The Back

  5. With the feet stationary and shoulder length apart, bend from the waist forward as far as you can then backward as far as you can go. Bend from front to back and back to front. (5 to 10 times)
  6. With the feet stationary and shoulder length apart, bend from the waist to the left as far as you can then to the right as far as you can. Left to right and right to left. (5 to 10 times)
  7. With the feet stationary and shoulder length apart, rotate your midsection to the right in circles around an imaginary spot on the floor where a line from the middle of your body would touch. (5 to 10 times) Then to the left in circles. (5 to 10 times)

    The Feet

  8. With the feet about 1 foot (12”) apart you will do a rocking chair motion from toes to heel and heel to toes. (10 to 20 times)

    The Upper Body Shoulder and Arms

  9. With the arms straight out at shoulder height, we move them forward to the front with the hands arm’s length from the neck. Then back to the side and back in (10 to 20 times)
  10. After that with the arms straight out again you rotate the arms from the shoulder in little circles forward. (10 to 20 times)
  11. Move both arms straight up as if you were reaching for the ceiling. With your elbows straight open and close your hands. (10 to 20 times)
  12. Move both arms back to the starting position in 9 and 10 and rotate the arms from the shoulder in little circles backwards. (10 to 20 times)
  13. Repeat #9
  14. Line up where there is a pole or wall to your side about 3 feet. With your arms straight down and hands to the side raise your elbow to a chicken wing. Execute a back fist under control stopping inches before the target. Repeat (10 to 20 times) with each arm one at a time.
  15. Standing in front of a mirror if one is available put one arm straight with your fist arm’s length from your heart and the other fist at your waist with the elbow bent. Move the arm at your waist forward while simultaneously bringing the extended arm to your waist. (10 to 20 times)
  16. Put your hands behind your head and lock the hands with the fingers. Bring your elbows back as far as you can and then forward. (10 to 20 times)
  17. With both arms to your side and your elbows straight, bring both arms around forward in a full circle. The arms are extended over your head then come back around to your side. Repeat this (10 to 20 times). Then do the same exercise motion backwards. (10 to 20 times)

The Lower Body

First many personal trainers and fitness experts don’t agree with my lower body flexibility regimen. Many trainers don’t believe in bending your back. If you have back problems research lower body stretching exercises on-line.

  1. Start by standing straight up. Then put your left foot over your right foot. The left foot will be on the floor to the right of the right foot. Slowly bend down and keeping your knees straight attempt to touch the floor. Stand up again and repeat (5 to 10 times). As time goes by usually in a month you will be able to put your fingers on the floor.
  2. Put your right foot to the left of your left foot and repeat the exercise.
  3. Next standing straight extend or widen your legs as far as you can. Bend forward putting your arms through your legs as far as you can. You do not need to come all the way up but keep reaching between your legs. (30 to 60 seconds)
  4. While still in a low position extend to the left bending the left knee while the right leg and knee remain straight. Now do this to the other side. Repeat 2 to 5 times.
  5. The next exercise requires you to sit on your butt (gluteus maxima). Extend your legs to the side as open as possible. With your hands locked behind your head bend forward as if attempting to touch the floor with your elbows. Hold for a 3 count straighten your back and repeat 5 to 10 times.
  6. The next exercise is the hurdlers stretch. In the beginning put your left foot to the inside of your right knee. The right leg is straight and the left knee is bent. Attempt to touch your nose on your right knee. Every time you go down hold for a 3 count. Repeat 5 to 10 times. Switch the position of your legs and repeat.
  7. Now standing feet close together execute the front snap kick on each leg 5 to 10 times. Sometimes one leg will be in front of the other and kick with the back leg.
  8. With the legs almost shoulder width apart execute the side kick 5 to 10 times on each leg.
  9. With one leg in front of the other with some separation execute the back kick 5 to 10 times on each leg.
  10. Find an object 3 to 4 feet off the ground like the seat of a stationary bike and make half circles over the object to the left and back to the right. Repeat 5 to 10 times on each leg.
  11. Holding on to an object kick the inside leg forward as high as you can and then backward as high as you can. You might have to bend your knee slightly as your kick leg is even with the other leg. Repeat 5 to 10 times on each leg.

This is the flexibility at the beginning. If you have the time exercise for 90 minutes. The initial 20 run, 20 bike, and 20 elliptical and then 30 minutes of stretching. If you only have an hour 30 minutes of warm-up and 30 minutes of stretching. As you progress the stretching part will not take as long as in the beginning.

You should continue this training regimen 5 days a week for 1 to 2 weeks. In 2 weeks you should be ready for strength training and more intense cardio.

Please note that examples of all exercises are available on the internet.

Phase Three

It is a fact that weight training can slow the aging process and in some cases reverse aging. My recommendation is that children and older adults at least start with machine (cable) weights. The 3 primary upper body weight training exercises are the bench press, military press, and curls. For the lower body the 3 primary weight lifting exercises are squats, the leg extension, and toe raises. We will include more exercises. The names of exercises change from free weights to machine weights but the same muscle groups are worked.

Please be aware that up to now we have developed an exercise foundation also known as a base.

First always warm-up before weight training. The 30 minute warm-up of running for 10 minutes, 10 minutes on the stationary bike, and 10 minutes on the elliptical is perfect.

Now with the warm-up you want to increase the intensity of the exercises as you want to work the muscles to a semi stressed feeling. Weight training is more effective if the body has been taxed but not necessarily stressed.

The run will be at a faster pace, and the statioary bike and elliptical exercises will be at a faster pace and with more resistence.

Weight training is done every other day with 2 days of rest after every 3rd day. So a typical schedule could be weight training Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Of course you will pick the days around your schedule.

Monday – Wednesday – Friday

After the warm-up (the 3 in 1 routine), we will lift some weights. When lifting always work the major muscle groups first. We will exercise upper body then lower body. This is a time saving technique. While the upper body muscles are recovering we exercise the lower body muscles and vice versa.

It is important to use proper breathing techniques. Exhale when pushing or raising weights the concentric portion and inhale when lowering eccentric portion.

  1. Bench Press some fitness centers will have the chest press. The difference is with the bench press (which I prefer) you are lying down and the chest press you are sitting down. The resistance (amount of weight) should be medium as you have much to do. Do 10 to 15 repetitions (reps). Remember proper breathing. While resting perform #2.
  2. Squats which on a machine would be the leg press (10 to 15 reps). Once again the resistance should be medium. To save time on the leg press machine do calf press. With free weights that would be toe raises. Perform 15 to 25 reps.
  3. Then back to the Bench or chest press. One last leg press then calf press.
  4. The next exercise is the shoulder press (seated) and military press when standing. Once again medium weight as some of the muscles have been stressed. 10 to 15 reps
  5. While recovering do the leg extension. 10 to 15 reps with medium resistance.
  6. Back to the shoulder press, then one last leg extension
  7. Go to the seated row machine (might be on a combination machine) and do 10 to 15 reps.
  8. Now you want to do leg curls. On some leg extension machines you adjust the seat to lay down on your stomach and perform. 10 to 15 reps
  9. Back to the rowing then one final set of leg curls.
  10. Curls with the arms medium weight 10 to 15 reps.
  11. Go to an abdomen machine 25 to 50 reps
  12. Back to the curls and back to the ab machine
  13. Do a set on the lat extension machine 10 to 15 reps
  14. If any of you participant in any sport then we want to work the wrist and hands.

  15. Do wrist curls 10 to 15 reps. The wrist curls can be performed on the combination lat/row machine by placing elbows on the seat and curling.
  16. Invest in hand grips and perform 15 to 25 reps

That is your strength training workout. The first time you will be sore. Your body will adapt. All resistance should be manageable as we want more reps less stress.

Now the New Tuesday and Thursday Routine

If there are no leg or knee issues we will do a 10 minute warm-up run.

  1. Then the flexibility routine.
  2. Jump rope about 50 reps
  3. Interval sprints run 60 seconds at a good pace. (Caution on a treadmill never go above 10). Then walk for 60 seconds repeat 5 to 10 times.
  4. Jump Rope again 50 reps
  5. Do the elliptical for 10 minutes at a fast pace.
  6. Jump Rope 50 reps
  7. Stretch down 3 reps on all leg stretches.
  8. Sit-ups 15 to 50 you might have to build up over time.
  9. Leg-ups 15 to 30 you might have to build up over time.
  10. Laying down with your legs 6 to 12 inches off the ground open and close 10 to 25 times.
  11. Sit ups 15 to 50

If there are back issues sit-ups and crunches should not be performed if those exercises cause discomfort. Research on line for abdominal exercises without resistance.

Also note that a person can work the abdomen and develop a six pack but once you get love handles it is very difficult to get rid of them. The best exercise for love handles is swimming as you move the arms and legs simultaneously which works that area more than any other exercise.

That is the routine. If anyone participants in a sport then they should practice that sport in the afternoon or evenings on the flexibility days. You do not want to do any speed work or stretching after lifting weights because lifting tightens your muscles, thus you risk injury.


Game day this is the day to compete. Play golf, tennis, basketball or your sport of choice. When you are in a competitive situation then the Friday weight training should be light or skipped. It is important before competing to have a light warm-up which can be a jog and to stretch.

If you don’t have a sport than if you like dancing go out and dance. If you like long walks go walking. A long day of shopping is good, but don’t overspend.


Rest and recover and worship

Apologies for not having illustrations. When I have time maybe I will include illustrations. You can see illustrations and watch videos on every exercise by doing a key word search. I also did not name what muscle groups were being worked during certain exercises. This training program will work all the relevant muscle groups, with both flexibility and strength.

Once again some Personal Trainers will include many more vigorous exercises such as lunges. My philosophy is the body is like a car. You only have so many miles especially with the knees. I personally have experienced over use problems. The normal range of motion does not involve the knees bending to the extent that the butt touches the ground or comes close to the floor. Unless you are participating in a sport or event that requires the cultivation of the muscle groups involved with such extreme exercises, I advise not to do them. You might not have an injury but the cumulative effect of stressful exercises will take a toll on your body over time.

If you are going to make it you can do it without having a personal trainer hold your hand. All you need is a designed workout routine and you can increase the intensity of cardio and the amount of weight you lift as your body adapts.

There is a concept called muscle memory. Once you are in shape, should you go on vacation, when you get back to working out the muscles will snap back as before.

One last word is Personal Trainers will tell you that you need to constantly change your routine to confuse your muscles. Their rationale is your body will Plateau. I disagree but that is an argument for another day. The first thing you need to do is get in shape and that won’t happen overnight.

We have gone through 3 stages of training. As I just stated, you can always increase intensity and the amount of weight in strength training. If you goals is to get stronger than you will now start to lift heavier weights. However a good approach is to start the 6 week program and after 6 weeks increase the amount of weight by 5% or 5lbs every week as long as you are able to complete a workout session.

The older you are the more risk you take with developing a hernia. Weight training is beneficial but over doing it has downfalls and risk.

For Runners

Any runners who run outside on cement, concrete, or other hard surfaces should make sure their shoes are not over worn. Whenever the shock absolvers on the shoes start to wear down, it is time to get new shoes. Running in shoes that no longer protect you will cause injuries.

Whenever you have shoes you really like that are comfortable and minimize the strain on the body, it is a good idea to get a second pair and alternate every other day. One of my frustrations, is when I attempt to buy a shoe I had a great experience with the shoe company no longer makes that shoe.

Don’t forget to focus on drinking water and your diet.

Good Luck and ask GOD to bless your routine.