Let’s cut to the chase: you want six-pack abs, a toned yet shapely butt, and arms that don’t have jiggly bits underneath. You want to get rid of those stubborn kankles, ease the constant chafing between your thighs, and not have sore knees, hips, and back ALL the time. Heck, you might just want to fit back into that old pair of jeans you allow to lurk at the bottom of your drawers, in the hope that one day, one day, they’ll slip back on like a glove. Well, the answer is simpler than you think.
Workouts don’t need to be complicated, drawn out, unenjoyable affairs. They don’t even need to be that frequent, to get the results you want. I’ve spent the last 10 years perfecting the ultimate paleo workout routine, from what protein to consume to which exercises to perform, and it’ll have you transitioning from flab to fab in no time (guys – feel free to replace the decidedly feminine “fab” with something manly like “jab”, if it makes you more comfortable).
So without further ado, here’s quite possibly the best workout routine you’ll ever lay your eyes on.
Your pre-workout routine
First, know that your body won’t respond well to strenuous exercise if it’s tired or still recovering from a previous workout. Ensure that you haven’t done an intensive weight-bearing workout in at least the past 2 days, preferably 3. Also ensure you got enough sleep last night, as your body is already stressed in this case and you don’t want to introduce any more stress into your life with a hard workout.
Step 1: prepare a protein source
For me, this is almost always a protein shake. While many people have been led to believe that whey protein isn’t that great for your health, it’s hands-down the best protein source for workouts if you get hold of the good stuff. That means whey from grass-fed cows, that has no additives or artificial flavors, and is preferably organic. This protein powder ticks all those boxes, and it’s been my go-to protein powder for the past 4 years. If you’re completely against whey protein (just FYI, often people with dairy allergies respond well to whey protein isolate, which shouldn’t contain lactose or casein), then you can always try an organic pea protein powder. Or even just a big hunk of meat, preferably the size of your palm. Your choice! Aim for around 30 grams of protein.
Drink half the protein shake 10 minutes before the workout, and half after the workout. This allows your muscles to synthesize the protein while you work out, which means faster muscle gains and quicker muscle recovery.
Step 2: warm up
Here, we just want to get your blood flowing and your muscles limber, so you don’t do any damage during the workout. This means 2 minutes of jumping around, shaking, dancing, or doing star jumps like nobody’s watching. I hope for your sake that no-one’s watching, as you’re going to look like a complete nutcase.
Your optimum paleo workout
After you’ve knocked back half your protein smoothie (10 mins before exercising) and warmed up a little, it’s time to get down and dirty. A couple of important points to keep in mind:
- Use whatever equipment you have available. I regularly work out using a 10 liter container of mineral water, as it’s a good weight for many exercises and has a handle – kind of like a rudimentary kettlebell. Nothing beats an actual kettlebell, however – I’ve found that a good starting kettlebell for ladies is 6 kg or 8 kg, and 10 kg or 12 kg for men.
- Perform the reps (reps = repetitions) to failure, unless otherwise stated. This means doing as many reps as you can of a given exercise until you literally can’t do any more. This will shock your muscles as much as possible (a good thing), which means faster fat burn and greater muscle mass development. No half-arsed attempts, people!
- Ensure your form is spot on! If you have to practice an exercise at a lighter weight initially, so be it – you need to do the exercise how its supposed to be done, or risk injury.
- Take a 1 minute rest between each exercise – use this time to have a sip of water and write down how many reps you did! You’ll need to keep increasing these reps with each new workout, in order to grow muscle mass.
Workout #1 (day 1)
- 10 glute activators (essentially just hip thrusts which you can do on the ground or on a bench that help to activate your glutes, which are often dormant going into a workout)
- kettlebell bicep curls (remember to keep your arms in by your sides, and you can just do one arm at a time if you only have one kettlebell)
- wide-grip pull-ups – the guy in that video cracks me up, but he’s right about how to do it! (use anything around the house or gym for this – could be a lateral tree branch, a pergola, a doorframe, or a chin-up bar. If you don’t have any of these, just skip this one)
- full-extension kettlebell crunches
- crazy ivans using your kettlebell
- slow pushups (5 seconds down/5 seconds up. You don’t have to do it on your knuckles like this guy! Keep your hands in line with your shoulders)
- alternating kettlebell lunges
- kettlebell deadlift (slow and steady wins the race with these bad boys!)
Workout #2 (day 3 or 4)
- 10 glute activators
- swiss ball abs (make sure to do the full extension. Use a low pile of cushions under the small of your back if you don’t have a swiss ball)
- kettlebell swings (if you only have a few minutes to spare, focus on doing this exercise! It works wonders)
- side planks
After your exercises, take a couple of minutes to shake it off and loosen up if you feel a bit tight. I find just going for a very quick jog around the yard helps with this. Now its time to drink the rest of your protein shake and rehydrate. Drink lots of water during and after the workout – dehydration is not your friend!
Workout 1 shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes, and workout 2 shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. Studies show that shorter, more intense workouts are more effective for weight loss and muscle gain than long workouts. Give yourself plenty of time to recover between workouts (I always space them at least 3 days apart, interspersed with days of mild to moderate cardio like walking, running, cycling and kayaking).
I always have my phone with me during workouts – I use it to note down how many reps I do per exercise for each workout, so that I can ensure I’m always increasing reps over time. I also use it as a timer for the side planks. You should also consider getting yourself a good exercise mat or yoga mat, to make your experience a whole lot more enjoyable. And crank those snazzy tunes! Nothing like a good workout playlist to get the blood pumping. I’m digging Spotify’s “Motivation Mix” right now.
That’s it! Easy, right? Try this routine for a month, and see how you look and feel. We’d love to hear if it kicked those kankles and busted that butt!