This is essential if you have spent successive lockdowns doing very little exercise.
Weeks 1-4: Build up to 20 minutes a day of walking at a fairly brisk pace
Week 5-6: On alternate days do: Day 1 (am) — 3 minutes of steady walking or cycling, 4 minutes of faster walking, 3 minutes of steady walking; (pm) — 10 minutes of steady activity. Day 2 — 20 minutes of steady walking
1. Perform either 6 x 30-second sprints on a bike (with 3 minutes of very gentle cycling recovery between each burst) or 6 x 20-second sprints of uphill running or on a rowing machine (3 minutes of gentle recovery).
2. If you wear a heart rate monitor, you should push to 90% of your maximum heart rate. If not, work hard enough that you are puffing and unable to speak during the “efforts”.
“It’s not supposed to feel easy and it won’t be particularly enjoyable,” Herbert says. “But you will reap the long term benefits.”
3. For the first six weeks, do this every five days in order to allow full recovery between each interval session. After that, even if you are very fit, don’t repeat the Fit HIIT session more often than every five days. For non-athletes in their 40 or 50s, every 10-15 days is sufficient. For those aged 60-plus, once every three weeks is enough.
4. On other days stay moderately active. “Move as much as you can,” says Herbert. “Run, swim cycle, surf, do yoga or whatever you enjoy doing with moderate intensity.”
Do these three exercises with weights that allow you to perform 10 repetitions of an exercise before needing a break for a total of 20 minutes per week:
Sit in front of the pull-down machine at the gym with feet flat on the floor. Push chest up and out and extend arms to grab the handles of the machine, taking a wide grip. Inhale, keep shoulders down and pull down the bar in front of you using your elbows until you feel your shoulder blades are together and you can squeeze the lateral muscles in your back. Slowly raise the bar back up and repeat.
You can perform this either with a barbell or on a machine. To do it with free weights, lie flat on your back on a bench and grip the bar with hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Bring the bar slowly down to your chest as you breathe in. As you breathe out, grip the bar hard and push up, aiming for a steady controlled movement. Repeat.
Place feet shoulder-width apart on the platform. Engage your core muscles and exhale as you drive away with your feet. Be sure to push with both feet simultaneously from the toes to the heels and don’t completely lock the knees at full extension. Inhale and slowly return to your original position, bringing your knees back down toward your bottom at a 90-degree angle. Repeat.