February Challenge: The Fitness Ladder

Whenever my DH starts feeling out of shape, he digs out a “fitness ladder” that he got from some engineer on the internet and starts doing calisthenics.

The idea behind this ladder is that exercise shouldn’t be painful and shouldn’t suck.  If you will recall my February challenge a few years back with the 7 min workout, I hated that with a violent passion.  It worked, but it sucked.  So I stopped.

The fitness ladder basically says:  start at the first rung of the introductory ladder.

Introductory Ladder

Rung Bend Sit up Leg lift Push up Steps Count







1 2 3 4 2 105 1 30
2 3 4 5 3 140 1 65
3 4 6 6 3 170 2 20
4 6 7 8 4 200 2 50
5 7 9 9 5 225 3 0
6 8 10 10 6 255 3 30
7 10 11 12 7 280 3 55
8 12 13 14 8 305 4 5
9 14 15 16 9 325 4 25
10 16 16 18 11 350 4 50
11 18 18 20 12 370 4 70
12 20 20 22 13 390 5 15
13 23 21 25 15 405 5 30
14 25 23 27 16 425 5 50
15 28 25 30 18 440 5 65

What the numbers mean here, is, using rung 1 as an example, that you touch your toes twice.  Then you do 3 situps.  Then you do 4 leg lifts.  Then you do 2 pushups.  Then you run in place for 75 thingies (every time your left foot touches the ground, that’s one thingy), then you do 7 jumping jacks, and then you run in place for another 30 thingies.  When a rung feels easy, move to the next rung.  After the introductory ladder, there’s an advanced ladder with slightly different exercises.

Feb 1st, I did the first rung and everything was easy except running in place.  Feb 2nd I came down with a virus from DC2 (headache, tummy ache– vomiting in hir case, other stomach problems in my case), but was able to get through everything but the running and jumping jacks from rung 1 after sleeping most of the day.  (The bouncing was not a great idea for my stomach and I had to have seltzer).  Feb 3rd I was recovered and did the first rung with little effort so Feb 4th I moved to the second rung where I stayed feb 5th (almost forgot yesterday and ended up exercising right before bed.)

cheer me on, grumpy nation!  What’s your latest fitness thing?

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31 Responses to “February Challenge: The Fitness Ladder”

  1. ellie Says:

    I’m working on getting back into running, following a program provided by a coach. Every day begins with about 20 minutes of exercises that are meant to get certain muscles working and/or help my body get closer to better form. Then I go on the treadmill. This week’s progress is that I just went from 2 run days to 3, but the runs are still pretty micro. (Tomorrow’s run will be 4 sets of 40- to 60-second runs that will add up to a little more than 10 minutes of running over the course of the session.)

    I am so impatient to be doing more actual running, but am keeping myself in check in the interest of not hurting myself. Start small and build will get me where I want to be without being sidelined.

  2. CG Says:

    I like this and totally agree that if exercise feels really hard and unpleasant _I_ at least am not going to stick with it. I have gotten to a point with running where I don’t mind it and I have stuck with it since it’s so good for my mental health. When I started, as a total non-runner, eight years ago, I ran for a count of 30 and then walked for a count of 90 for probably a mile or something, then gradually increased the running and decreased the walking. That was what it took for it not to feel like I was going to die and it worked. So, good for us all and our incrementalism!

  3. bogart Says:

    That sounds great! As for me, I’m sticking with the “Dr. Mama [Listen up, maggots!]” approach to running I adopted sometime back, basically running (really, jogging) for 30 minutes every other day. It’s working for me. I’ve actually gotten comfortable enough (read: not discontent) about the whole jogging thing that I will also now do it sometimes as a way to get from a-to-b (for example, the bus stop is about a half mile from my office), or as an alternative to walking when I take the dog out on a leash.

  4. Cloud Says:

    This is a really good idea! And also the most engineer-y approach to fitness ever. I love it and may try it. My latest fitness thing is to start calorie counting again, and that always makes me want to add in some more exercise so I can eat more cheese….

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    For the past 40 years, I’ve relied mainly on bicycle commuting for my exercise (because I hate to exercise), but with retirement coming up in a couple of years, I need to find something to keep my body moving when I’m no longer commuting. I started jogging again, after a 40-year break, and did manage a couple of injuries that sidelined me for a few weeks, but I’ve now been managing to fit in a 2-km run every couple of days in addition to my bike commuting. Over the summer and fall, when I won’t be commuting every day, I’ll try to increase that distance gradually.

  6. tryingtogetbackinshapein40s Says:

    I am intrigued by this! I am going to try it. After feeling utterly out of shape over the holidays, I also started the couch to 5k program… for the first time in my life I had to start at day 1, week 1. While humbling, you’re right – even though I’m not in “shape” yet here in week 3, I can see the progress from where I started so clearly. This ladder program is so appealing bc it doesn’t increase in time (what I liked about couch to 5k too) and that it’s general fitness. Running doesn’t build strength that my age dictates is more and more important.

  7. Debbie M Says:

    Woo! You go!

    I have many goals, but… What I am currently achieving is:
    a) jogging 3 miles on a more regular basis (up to twice a week so far)
    b) going to exercise class or doing my favorite exercise video on a regular basis (once or twice a week lately)
    c) doing closer to 10K steps or the equivalent every day (generally up to at least 6K)

    In the summer, a friend and I already have season tickets to a local water park that also has a ropes course that we play on once a week.

    The fitness thing that I most like is ballroom dancing, but it’s hard to find a good place to do it (my favorite group has pretty bad DJs).

  8. First Gen American Says:

    I started with do something active both weekend days. Usually skiing one day if the weather cooperates. I have a small mountain less than 10 minutes from house. It was going okay until I started feeling sick and this week has been hell.

    I also try to walk with a friend one or two days during the week but that’s not easy to do consistently because all my walking friends travel and so do I.

    I still very much need to do my PT exercises for my back and have been very bad at doing them when my back is not killing me but I can tell it’s still very weak. They are not that calorie burning so I usually opt for something else or nothing which is bad.

    Most of my problem is eating too much, so cooking healthier has been a goal as well which we do but not every night. We still have things like pizza and steak and cheese because they are the kids favorites.

    I am also trying to take steps to look better. Working from home, it’s easy to just live in sweatpants. I live in these two flannel tops and yoga pants when I am home in the winter and it ain’t pretty.

    This is the one area of my life I have trouble controlling and I just don’t get it. I can be so regimented in other areas and don’t understand why it doesn’t translate. I must just not want it badly enough.

  9. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    I think I’m misreading the table? I don’t see jumping jacks on there at all & the run-in-place steps for rung 1 is 105, not 75? Also, what are the two numbers in the “count” column (1 & 30, in rung 1)?

  10. nicoleandmaggie Says:

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  11. chacha1 Says:

    Bravo, hope it continues to not suck, stay away from stomach bugs, ugh.

    My DH just recently got my pull-up bar mounted in the doorway between our kitchen and my writing room. I have never stopped doing my daily yoga, but it’s been 18 months since I had my pull-up bar. Amazingly, have not lost a lot of upper-body strength, probably because I’ve been challenging myself a bit with yoga since the Job Prospects Nose-dive. Anyway, I am alternating a set of push-ups one day and a few thingys on the pull-up bar the next. The goal is one full proper chin-up by the end of the year, and getting back to doing my push-ups from the toes vs from the knees.

  12. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Nothing fancy here. I’m forcing myself to take it really slow by increasing my distance on daily walks, lest I sideline myself overdoing it.

  13. Debbie M Says:

    So I tried the first intro fitness ladder workout and those “steps” are surprisingly aerobic. Also, I do not think about other things, I just count. I don’t need coins yet, but I imagine just holding out the number of fingers for the number of sets of 75 steps I’ve already done in the future. Also, it’s kind of boring to do them in place; I find myself slowly moving across the room.

    He explains, but it still seems unlikely that the workouts do not get longer. However, my first one took only three minutes, so it’s easier to believe that the workouts will never take more than fifteen minutes. (Although that’s partly because he says if it takes that long, you’ve gone too far and should move back a step!)

    And now I’m wondering what kind of tinkering changes your DH has made. And whether you have made any.

  14. Becca Says:

    My fitness thing is pushups. I add one every day and do as many in a set as I feel ok with. Some days I miss and if so I don’t stress, but I keep adding. Today was day 269, I did them in sets of 25 (and last one of 19). When I started I had trouble with 10, and frequently did knee pushups, so I feel happy with my progress.
    I don’t do well with perfect streaks or specific goals. I do well just focusing on getting a tiny bit better over time.

    I also try to get to zumba (which is my happy thing) and a certain group exercise with weights class on the weekends. I’m going to try to start with more swimming and running. I went to the gym for Zumba but mis-read the schedule and there wasnt any Zumba and I was sad, but I ran on the treadmill and it made me realize how much I miss it.

  15. Link Love | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] In case you’re wondering how I’m doing on the February challenge:  I’m on rung 4.  Oddly, I’m having more trouble with the pushups than the sit-ups.  In the past it has always been the other way around.  The other week I did get a terrible leg cramp after running, so I’m a bit concerned that there’s not enough stretching or something in this workout. […]

  16. February Challenge Fitness ladder update | Grumpy Rumblings (of the formerly untenured) Says:

    […] Recall this February challenge I did the calisthenics Fitness Ladder. […]


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