Exercise is a great way to practice self-care and melt away the stress of the day, and starting a fitness program can be one of the best ways to make time for it. But when a routine is too intense or prescriptive and its requirements start to bleed over into non-workout time, the feel-good benefits often morph into points of tension instead.
If you find yourself cramming in a morning workout instead of serenely sipping coffee and playing Wordle, or loading more weight on the bar when your body’s already struggling, or canceling plans with your friends because you just have to complete your three-mile run, it might be time to ask yourself if your routine’s actually bringing you the joy that you’d originally hoped it would.
I don’t know about you, but for me, those kinds of strict, plotted-to-the-edge regimens can suck the fun out of fitness, making exercise feel like something I need to check off my list rather than something I’m excited to do. That kind of pressure can make me dread my workouts, which is not the way I want to think about movement.
So when I started creating the newest version of SELF’s annual spring fitness program, I wanted to make a series that celebrates movement in all of its forms—whether that’s a quick, three-minute wake-your-body-up-from-sitting break or a full-fledged, heart-pumping 30-minute cardio routine. And I wanted it to be something that celebrates you, that puts you in the driver’s seat, and recognizes you as the expert of your own fitness journey. You know what’s best for your body and what your body needs in a given moment, so you should have the autonomy to direct your own exercise experience.
And thus, the Just Enough Workout was born. Throughout this free, four-week program, we’ll offer 12 strength routines and eight cardio workouts (and eight rest days!) that are super flexible and customizable. For each, we’ll give two options for duration and intensity—and the ability for you to tweak those as you see fit too. Here’s what it’ll look like:
- Just Enough Movement: These short routines are designed to provide breaks for a little bit of movement, and are great to get your blood flowing and your muscles warm. For your strength-focused days, you’ll get a circuit of three bodyweight-only exercises that will wake you up from head to toe. Each round is three minutes, and you can combine them for a three-round routine that’ll take less than 10 minutes, or you can do a single round whenever you need a break or have time in your day. For your cardio days, we’ll have you set aside 10 minutes to get your heart pumping in whatever modality you prefer, from walking outdoors to pedaling on a bike to jumping on an elliptical.
- Just a Little More Movement: If and when your body may be craving more of a challenge, you can turn to these workouts. The strength days will build on the circuit from Just Enough, with a couple more exercises, more intense variations, and oftentimes with dumbbells. (Ideally you’ll have a light set, around 5 to 10 pounds, and a medium set, around 8 to 20 pounds.) The programming for your circuit is kicked up too: You’ll have the option of three different work-to-rest intervals, so you can customize your routine according to how breathless you want to get. For your cardio days, you’ll still have the option of whether you want to walk, run, bike, and so on, but the Just a Little More routines will include longer sustained work and harder intervals. Both your cardio and strength days will clock in between 20 to 30 minutes based on your timing choices.
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