My family, friends, and fellow humans: I share with you some of my workout tips and videos here to encourage you to exercise daily and take good care of your health.
Ever since I was a child, I have been spending most of my waking hours working sitting in front of computers or in meeting rooms. I have never been known for being an athlete nor for my fitness (to put it mildly). I still spend more time staring at screens on computers and phones than is good for me. I am working on fixing that.
If I can exercise daily, so can you. Prioritize your health and that of your close ones. Even if you do a daily 7 minute workout or just do 10 push-ups and 10 squats each morning (links to all of these at the end of this post), it will help you live a better life.
Physical exercise improves success in other aspects of life and work
There are many successful CEOs and leaders who work out multiple times a week. I have witnessed some of them working out with dedication. Will Lewis, the highly respected and accomplished former CEO of Dow Jones & Publisher of The Wall Street Journal not only works out regularly, he often reminds his colleagues of the importance of working out and taking good care of health. I saw him invite a personal trainer to speak during one of his executive leadership meetings, which I found as relevant and productive for work as the discussions about business. I was inspired by Will working out early mornings at gyms during business trips.
Exercise is useful (and necessary) at every age
According to Business Insider, the 62-year old high-powered CEO Strauss Zelnick “is in insane shape for any age, let alone his own. He works out between seven and 12 times a week, and he founded a group fitness club called The Program.”
There are also people of ages over 80 and 90 years old who work out regularly to stay healthy, fit, and intelligent. Charles Eugster’s talk about why bodybuilding at age 93 is a great idea is awe-inspiring. (Link below.)
United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 87 years old is known for her energy, strength, and sharp mind. She works out regularly with her fitness trainer who she has referred to as “the most important person” in her life (after her family, of course). There is a book called The RBG Workout about her exercise routine and its role in her life.
I have included links to articles about some of the world’s top business and public leaders like her and others who work out regularly in the ‘Further Reading’ section at the end of this article.
Apply behavioral science and social psychology to build and maintain good habits
💡I recommend exercising daily. Not 6 days/week. Not 5 days/week. Daily. One reason I work out daily is that I find it easier and longer lasting to build and maintain a daily habit than a habit of n times per week. I use the “Seinfeld Strategy” (link below) to maintain my daily workout habit. I am not a fitness professional, nor an athlete and my daily workouts are not so strenuous that I would need a rest day. When needed, make it an “active rest day” where my workout is limited to active recovery exercises. (If you work out so hard that you need rest days, you already have greater expertise on fitness than I do, and you are beyond my intended audience for this article.)
💡To keep workouts fun and avoid them becoming boring, I suggest you change your exercise routines periodically. This will keep challenging you and result in improvements to your mind and body. Doing a variety of exercise with different types of equipment or in different environments will increase your brain stimulation and will make you both physically and mentally healthier. There is evidence that the brain evolved for the body to be able to perform complex movements and that doing complex exercises is good for your brain development. (More information on that in the links at the end of this article.)
💡I purposely purchased artistic kettlebells that also double as decorative art pieces in my apartment. I keep them within easy reach in my living room. Having my workout equipment nearby, easily accessible , quick to set up, and ready to use reduces the cognitive load on my brain to start an exercise. This also encourages me to do one or more enjoyable exercises while I’m taking breaks from other activities during the course of the day.
💡I have installed a mirror next to the exit door leading out of my apartment. I have also installed a mirror on the door of my closet where I keep my clothes. They give me frequent feedback on how my body looks relative to the shape I want to be in. That helps me curb desires for unhealthy eating and gives me motivation to exercise.
It is interesting how our brains evaluate things in relative terms:
- 💡I find it easier to do certain exercises by thinking of my kettlebell’s mass in kilograms which is smaller in numerical value than the pounds equivalent.
- 💡I find that having my 34 kg (75 lb) Bear kettlebell nearby makes it easier to do exercises with my 29 kg (63 lb) Odin kettlebell because it seems lighter in comparison.
💡Recently, the eight exercises in that day’s circuit which my coach Julian instructed me to perform felt too challenging for me to complete. After the first round, I felt I wouldn’t be able to complete all three rounds. To gain motivation to complete the third round in good form (actually, to be able to complete it at all), I made a decision to post that final round on Instagram. So I turned on my video camera and started recording. I wasn’t initially planning to post that day’s workout on Instagram, but when I began to struggle during round two, I knew I needed a motivational boost, which the commitment to post its videos on Instagram provided.
💡I transfer learnings from my work in product engineering and business to my fitness regimen. For example, I use Objectives & Key Results, OKRs for my personal fitness. I incorporate reflection, retrospectives, and project pre-mortem methodologies that I have found successful in product development.
I encourage you to transfer learnings from the domains you are good at to your physical fitness projects.
I find that applying behavioral science, learned from the works and writings of experts like Daniel Kahneman, B.J. Fogg, James Clear, and Charles Duhigg is effective in creating lasting exercise habits. I recently gave a talk about this at a World Economic Forum YGL event.
Some of my recent workout videos
We should all prioritize our health and wellness and inspire others in our lives to do so. Here are 8 videos of my workouts from Friday morning:
Why leaders should work out
- Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson and Mark Cuban all agree that this one habit is key to success (CNBC)
- A fit CEO is an effective CEO: Why leaders need to make time for exercise (Salon)
- How Successful CEOs Make Time for Fitness (Aaptiv)
- There’s a reason you should plan to exercise in the morning instead of at night, according to execs and CEOs (Business Insider)
Exercise benefits your brain and physical health
- This Is Your Brain on Exercise: The benefits of physical activity are more than muscle-deep. Moving your body builds and conditions your gray matter, making you smarter, happier, and more resilient. (Experience Life)
- Exercise Can Build A Better Brain (Learning On The Move)
- Exercise, Movement, and The Brain (Psychology Today)
- The brain-changing benefits of exercise (video on YouTube) by Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the New York University from her talk at TEDWomen
- How Exercise Can Help Us Learn by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- How Exercise Can Help You Master New Skills by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- Exercise and the Ever-Smarter Human Brain by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- How Exercise Can Calm Anxiety by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- Lack of Exercise Can Disrupt the Body’s Rhythms by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- How Exercise Changes Our DNA by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- The Power of a Daily Bout of Exercise by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
Working out regularly at any age
- Why bodybuilding at age 93 is a great idea (video on YouTube), TEDx Zurich 2012 talk by Charles Eugster
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg Workout. She is 87 years old
- How 61-Year-Old CEO Strauss Zelnick Stays Fit (Men’s Health). He is the founder, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing partner of private equity firm ZMC, the chairman and CEO of video game company Take-Two Interactive, and the chairman of media conglomerate CBS Corporation.
- A high-powered CEO uses this 50-minute workout to stay in incredible shape (video) (Business Insider)
- Walking to Age Well by Toby Bilanow at The New York Times
How to apply behavioral psychology and social science to make exercise your daily habit
- How to Stop Procrastinating on Your Goals by Using the “Seinfeld Strategy” by James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits.
- 3 Simple Ways to Make Exercise a Habit, also by James Clear
- 6 mental tricks tricks that help make exercise a habit (NBC News)
- My Personal Fitness Objectives & Key Results (OKRs)
Effective ways to exercise
- What’s the Difference Between Circuit Training and Interval Training? (SHAPE)
- Sling Training Is the Smart Way to Build Total-Body Strength (Men’s Health)
Excellent workouts that can be completed in a few minutes
- The Scientific 7-Minute Workout by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- The Advanced 7-Minute Workout, also by Gretchen Reynolds at The New York Times
- The Perfect Push Up | Do it right! video by Calisthenic Movement (calimove)
- Video: The Perfect Squat – Do it right! video by Calisthenic Movement (calimove)
- 10 Exercises to Tone Every Inch of Your Body (Healthline)
- 7 Most Effective Exercises (WebMD)
- 5 Essential Functional Fitness Exercises (Active.com)
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s trainer: 3 bodyweight exercises that ‘cover it all,’ for your home workout (CNBC)
Why you should work out daily; Active recovery exercises for active rest days
- Active Recovery: How It Works and Exercise Ideas (Healthline)
- Here’s how to make the most of your recovery days so that you’re bigger, stronger, and fitter (Men’s Health)
- 11 of the Best Exercises and Activities to Do on Active Recovery Days (SELF)
- Video: Can you Workout EVERYDAY and Should YOU? by Lee Downing Keat (YouTube)
(Thanks to an Instagram post by my friend and former coworker Cameron Brown, where he mentioned active recovery. It reminded me to update this article to include it.)
Home gym fitness equipment that I use and recommend
- Garage Gym Reviews by Cooper Mitchell (a.k.a. Coop)
- Zoobells: artistic kettlebells I use
- Iron Skull Fitness artistic kettlebells I use
- Bowflex SelectTech: quickly & easily adjustable 5 to 60 lbs dumbbells that I use (model SelectTech 560). My weight bench is also made by them.
- Eleiko Sport: The barbell and weights I use. They make some of the world’s highest quality barbells and weight plates that have been used in the Olympics
- BOSU: I use the BOSU Pro balance trainer (they now sell a newer model, the BOSU NextGen Pro) along with the PowerStax riser to increase the height of the BOSU balance trainers.
- Weckmethod: I use the RMT Club Mace, RMT Jump Rope, and BOSU Elite made by them
- FitterFirst: I use the Duraball Xtreme 65″ balance ball
- TRX Training: I use the TRX Force (now called TRX Tactical) suspension trainer
- Perfect Fitness: I use the Perfect Push Up and Ab Roller products.
- Kensui Fitness: I use the EV Vest Max that lets me use my barbell weight plates with it.
- Barehand Gloves: I use them for all my hand grip exercises (barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, pull up / chin up bar, etc.) Their minimalist design is effective at preventing/minimizing calluses while still allowing a close to natural hand grip