Recovering from covid with exercise
On every level covid sucks, it sucks to get it, it sucks when others get it, it sucks that the world shut down for a year, it just sucks through and through. At the very end of 2020, I got covid as did my wife and two kids, and that sucked.
But, as I always say "There is a silver lining in just about every damn thing..." I just had to look in hindsight to find this one.
Now, I admit that I got off easy compared to some, but it made me hit pause. I was laid up for about a month with my main symptoms being massive fatigue, brain fog, body aches, shortness of breath, and an erratic heart-rate if I went up a flight of stairs too fast. The worst of it lasted for about 10 days, but I had zero energy to do anything more than lay around for about a month after that.
Slowly but surely I felt myself getting back to something that kinda resembled pre-covid energy levels for brief periods of time. I said to myself “Nolan, it's time to get back to work.”
I began with setting small goals for myself, but not being so married to them that I couldn't back off if my body told me I was doing too much. Some days I would have a covid relapse and rest, but I would still do something that would heal my body, like taking a hot bath or meditating. After a few weeks of doing the same weekly workout program, I was able to do the full workouts for the full week, and I felt strong again!
Below is the workout program I did that took me from having trouble breathing going up a flight of stairs to doing a 45-minute full-body workout and going for two-mile runs.
Disclaimer: Since COVID-19 affects everyone differently, I would strongly suggest that you consult with your doctor before starting any workout program. If you have ever do experience chest pain, stop all exercise and consult with your doctor immediately. I am not a doctor and all the information provided here is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The workout program, provided below is intended as an example of how to get back into exercise, but the most important thing is to listen to your body and take it easy while still pushing gently forwards.
The one-week workout program:
When setting up my workout program, the first thing I did was to write out my why and my goal on a piece of paper. My WHY was to get my pre-COVID energy back so I could function as a father and husband on the home front. My goal was to be able to run two miles without stopping.
My method for achieving my goal was simple. I planned to complete various exercises for at least 20 minutes a day for seven days. Typically, I would have set a time-restraint for when I had to hit my goal, but I knew that I needed to be gentle with myself after getting sick. And, I had to keep working towards it.
Below, I’ve outlined my weekly workouts in case you want to check them out! It’s worth noting that for my workouts, I typically use the Rogue fitness bands (but you can use any), a yoga mat, and my bodyweight. You’d be surprised how much you can do without any equipment at all.
For resistance bands workouts, you can gradually increase the resistance as you feel appropriate. A good rule of thumb - if it feels like you’re not working anything, move up!
Also, keep in mind that as I am a professional fitness trainer and have been doing so for 20+ years, my baseline starting point might differ from yours. Always feel free to lower the number of reps if it feels to challenge it. You don’t want to overdo it straight out of the gate.
Day One & Four - Cardio
- Go for a run, walk/run, hike, or bike ride for at least 20 minutes.
Day Two & Five- Full body resistance bands workout
Forward lunge, alternate toe touch - 20 reps
Walkout to push-ups - 10 reps
Lateral lunges - 20 reps (10 on each side)
Push-ups - 20 reps
Reverse Lunge, straight leg kick - 10 reps each side
Push-ups to shoulder tap - 20 reps
Single leg squat - 10 reps each leg
- Set One: Do two rounds
Bent over rows - 15 reps
Standing frontal raises - 15 reps
Air Squats - 15 reps
- Set Two: Do two rounds
Push-ups to side plank - 20 reps
Biceps curls - 15 reps
Overhead triceps extensions (Red band) - 15 reps
-Core: Do one or two rounds
Crunches - 25 reps
Leg lifts - 20 reps
Plank - 30 seconds
Day Three & Six - Yoga
Sun salutations, five rounds
Warrior sequence, one round each side
Tree & stabilization, one round each side
Savasana - 5 min
Day 7 - Rest
I am proud to say that after a few weeks of stops and starts, I was able to tick off a full week of doing each one of these workouts a day and I got my energy back (for the most part).
Now that we are on the road, tackling exercises is even harder than it was when I was at home and in a routine. But having that time to build a routine made it that much easier to keep on track when life started getting more complicated again.
So I guess that in hindsight, the silver lining was that I was reminded that life will always throw you a curveball, that the path of progress is never a straight line (it’s more like a 3-year-old crayon Scribble) and that even in a time of setbacks, you can set yourself up to go farther than you ever thought you could.
These skills of setting yourself up for moderate success creates the platform to change your life. The moment I wrote down my why and my goals, I made a commitment to myself and things changed. I am continually working on myself. The process of being the best version of myself is a lifelong endeavor. But doing the workday today makes us all strive to be better.
In the Dad Bod Transformation course, we work on this principle in-depth and find out how to make this change. Men, in particular, are often conditioned to leap into action. And as I love to say, success loves action. But if that action lacks intention, strong motivation, and goal, it’s wasted energy. It’s short-lived.
Getting back to exercise after COVID-19 or any other serious illness is a process. I knew that I would need a strong WHY to motivate me to get out of my slump. And, I also knew that I needed a game plan (my workout). With that strong foundation in place, I was able to recover.
If you’re in the process of getting back on your feet, whether it’s from your sickbed or the couch, don’t beat yourself up if you are not where you want to be when you want to be there. It's the process of doing the work that matters the most and will have the greatest impact on your life.
Here is the full transcript of the workout video above -
okay here we are in beautiful Hueco Tanks state park in texas just outside of el Paso this place is one of the best climbing areas in the world as far as I'm concerned it's these beautiful stones great rock formations everywhere it's also a place of rich history there are these cave paintings that have been preserved for thousands of years because they're in like these deep caves they don't get hit by rain or sun so it's really amazing anyway I decided to record this workout here that I've been doing for the last few months as I've been recovering from covid an attempt to show you just kind of what I've been doing and how it's been working out when you're getting over an illness especially something like covid that affects everyone so differently it's really important to listen to your body right so if something doesn't feel good if you start getting pain in your chest especially just stop go see a doctor and resume when you feel good enough it's important to push yourself a little a bit but you don't want to push yourself enough to where you set yourself back injure yourself make yourself sicker so it's like one of those fine lines so again it's just about really listening to your body so the way that the workout starts off is with an alternating forward lunge with a toe touch and I go for 20 reps go for as many as you can but it looks something like this where you lunge forward touch your toe come up with your hand over your head so what we're doing is getting lots of joints moving kind of just go through the movement listening to your body and is a a gentle way to get your heart rate up hey I don't know if you can hear it but there are some rock climbers in the background screaming them on making much noise when they fall now I'm going to go for 20. like I said before if you get to a lower number you're like I'm good just stop the goal is to get to 20 eventually and be totally honest I lost count because for some reason I just can't seem to count and talk at the same time so I'll just go for two more and call it twenty twenty yay okay so next thing that we do is a walkout to push up so the way that that looks is it's a forward fold so you inhale raising both hands up exhale fold-down walk yourself out into your push-up position, you do your push-up it's wonderful and walks yourself all the way back up hands come up over your head so again it's a stretch we're going to go for 10 of these but if at any point it feels uncomfortable we need to stop and back off like listen to your body, this is a video that you're watching hopefully at home you really don't need to impress anybody you just need to get better remember to keep breathing throughout the whole range of motion so you're getting lots of oxygen going through your body so I think i have three more to go let's eat nine and there's ten weird cool so the next thing that we're going to do is a lateral lunge so side to side lunge going to go for 20 of these total and the object here is to kind of stretch out your inner thighs but also get your heart rate up so hopefully, you're doing this in a more stable situation than a downward sloping very uneven surface rock but if you're doing it outside that's totally fine too so we're gonna take a lateral lunge come back up to the center and we're going to do 10 on each side your hands can go anywhere all right six seven eight nine and there's ten cool and do the same the thing on the other side again just going deep enough so you feel that stretch on your inner thigh three four five six oops seven eight nine ten yay okay The next thing that we're gonna do is uh 20 push-ups so I'm a personal trainer I've been doing push-ups for years if push-ups aren't necessarily your jam try to start on your toes but if you need to go down to your knees that's totally fine either way we're going to go for 20 either on your knees or on your toes so just start whenever you're ready try to keep your belly tight and I'm not going to talk about this because I'm probably going to get out of breath 17 18 19 20. those are good those are hard but they're supposed to be if they're easy everyone will do them the next thing we're going to do is a reverse lunge to a straight leg kick when you go for 10 of these on each leg this is a dynamic stretch or a moving stretch for your hamstring but it's also good for strengthening and stabilizing that front leg so you take your left hand out in front of you step your right foot back and then with a straight leg try and kick your toes and then go right back into lunge we're gonna go for ten of these go at your own pace four five six seven eight nine ten ta-da all right same thing on the another side so right arm goes out behind your left leg goes back and find a somewhat even situation here we'll go for 10. three four five-six and eight nine ten cool rest for a hot second we'll get ready for your next set of push-ups so we got two more push-ups this is kind of like the warm-up section but if it ever feels too hard this could be your whole workout and then next time you try it you go a little bit further next time you try it you go a little bit further so it's a good kind of base engage and once you get through this whole workout without resting without really losing your breath you can graduate to the next level whatever that looks like okay so we're going to do is a push-up to a shoulder tap so you do your push-up tap your opposite shoulder it's only for a moment again um try to start on your toes if you need to go to your knees so be it you start on your knees that's cool too just do your best as we say in my family be kind be respectful and always try your best all right so going for 20 of these guys you do your push-up tap your opposite shoulder going for 20. 10 11 12 13. 15 16 17 15 19 20. nice job I'm assuming everyone did like a great job because just by watching this video, you're automatically awesome The last exercise we're going to do are single-leg squats so we're going to go for 10 of these on each leg so you just stand on one foot squat down reaching for that opposite toe come back up to standing going for ten if you need to grab on to something here it's totally cool but try to do it as hard as you can six seven eight nine and ten once I'm done with that ten switch sides three four oh five six seven eight nine ten great the first phase of the workout is complete now get some water whichever in the high desert very important even if you're not very important so when covid first went down I went on lockdown I bought a set of rogue fitness bands I'm not sponsored by them or affiliated in any way I just happen to like their products because a lot of the other bands I've had with the handles eventually the handles break just the nature of the stuff will break eventually but these seem a little bit stronger a little bit harder to work with so i got a red a blue a green and a black but in general I use the red and the blue the most especially at this phase of training so I'm going to take the blue band and what we're going to do is a little superset so we're going to do a pulling exercise a pushing exercise and then a leg exercise to get your heart rate up we're going to rest as little as possible in between each set and we're going to do two rounds of this so I double up the band so it's like this step on it one foot in the middle and then go into a split stance and keep my back really straight so what I'm gonna do is a bent-over row pulling both hands in towards my ribs 15 times if you don't have bands you can always use a gallon jug of water or two and do the same exercise 10 11 12 13 14 15. put on down for a second so that was the pulling exercise next for the pushing exercise, we're going to take the red band or they make an orange one too that's lighter and you can use that if you want to we're going to make a big circle out of it stepping on it with your front foot and holding out with a wide grip we're gonna do a frontal raise again 15 of these try to keep your abs tight and your shoulder blades back hold for a moment at the top of each one 11 12 13 14 15. and then the leg exercise we're going to do air squats air squats are just squatting in the air so feet slightly wider than hip-width apart squat down come back up to standing we can do 15 of these eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen so that's the first round we're gonna do one more of those resting for like somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds before you start the next step is about as long as it takes to get a sip of water so again we'll go back to the blue band doubling it up and if you stepped on it with your left foot the first time you step on it with your right foot for the second time so again going into that split stance nice straight spine and then 15 rows five-six seven eight nine ten eleven 13 14 15. cool drop that we'll get out the red one you know depending on your fitness level if you don't have the bands just doing no weight and holding for a a moment with your arms out straight will engage the same muscle group not as much you might have to do more but stay lovey all right so stepping on it with your right foot now if you're stepping out with your left last time 15 frontal raises keep your abs tight shoulders back eight nine 10 11 12 13 14 15. cool I'll drop those and then do your last set of 15 air squats so feet hip-width apart squat down five-six seven eight nine ten oh 15 14 15. great rest for a hot second we'll get ready for the last little superset here so the last one was back shoulders and glutes this one is going to be chest biceps and triceps so we'll keep the red band close at hand what we're going to do send it 20 push-ups opening up into a side plank so again these can be done on your knees if you need to but try to do them on your toes even if you start on your toes go down your knees it's all good as long as you're doing the best that you can so 20 push-ups to side plank going down coming up the opening to the side three six seven eight nine ten 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20. again if you didn't make it to 20 it's fine it's good to have goals all right so for the bicep curls, we're gonna make a big circle out of your red band I'm gonna step on it with your left foot keeping your chest up shoulder blades back come into the curl hold for a moment and then let on down if this feels too easy you want to go up to the blue band power to you but if not stick with this and go for 15. bugs done 11 12 13 14 15. and then quick as a flash, we'll go over into triceps now this one admittedly is a pain in the butt to get into but it's pretty good exercise what we do are we step your heel over it with the band behind you and then with both hands on one side we're going to lift it up and bring it all the way around behind your back and step your other foot forwards but you're keeping your heel down so you don't accidentally smack yourself in the back of the head because trust me that sucks I'll move over a little bit all right so keeping your biceps inline with your ears, we're going to straighten your arms over your head 15 times four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen 14 15. and then come out of it the same way you got into it stop rest for about 30 to 60 seconds and then we'll get ready for our last round take some water stretch it out so just for diversity's sake, i know that a lot of fitness people out there have you doing the same exercises over and over again and there that is good and there's a lot of validity to that personally i like to mix it up as much as possible so what we're going to do for our last set of push-ups are diamond push-ups that's where your index fingers and thumbs are just about touching and you lower your heart down to your hands and push yourself up fast these are a little harder so we'll go for 10 of these can also, be done on your knees but try not to if possible all right so whenever you're ready going for ten two think popping yourself up fast and going down slow six seven eight nine good those are challenging admittedly grab onto your red band or whatever substitute you're working on working with we'll step on with your right foot and again 15 bicep curls keep your chest up shoulder blades back tummy tight and if this feels too easy you want to make it harder go for it just keep breathing as you go through your round of 15. 14 15. and then the last set of triceps we'll switch heels so last time I did my right foot stepping on it this time we'll step on with my left bring both hands around and then I'm going to twist it up behind my back step my other foot 15 tricep extensions trying to keep your biceps in line with your ear and your core engaged six nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen oh good golly miss molly all right so that pretty much concludes the resistance portion of the workout the final thing that we're going to do is a little bit of core work let's see I don't know if you can see that just the camera a little bit I didn't see it any better there we go that should work all right so we're gonna keep it pretty simple we're gonna do upper ab lower ab and isometrics we're just gonna do one round of each of these we're gonna start out with crunches so hands behind your head feet on the floor or hands across your chest just as long as you keep good space between your chin and your chest and we'll go for 25 crunches straight up and down start whenever you're ready try to give a big exhale as you come up so your lungs are empty by the time you get to the top and you hold for a moment if you want to make these harder you can always lift your feet up off the floor i think I have 10 more to go cool once you finish set 25 bring your hands underneath your legs I'm going to straighten out your legs and do leg lifts so we're going to go for 20 of these maybe raise them up until they're just above your hips lower them down until they're just above the floor but your heels don't touch so going for 20 of these that this kind of hurts your lower back you can always bend your knees a little bit more and you can let your headrest on the ground if that feels better fun great once you're done with your 20 we'll prep for our last exercise which will be a forearm plank even though you only got two arms they call it a forearm plank anyways so we're gonna do is rest on your elbows or palms on the mat, i'm gonna go for palms today because this rock is super duper sharp push out through the heels of your feet in the crown of your head and we'll hold for 30 seconds starting right now as you exhale tuck your belly button into your spine and think about pushing your heart away from the floor 15 more seconds five four three two one and you're good great nice work you made it all the way through the video congratulations if you needed to stop at any point it's cool you're awesome for trying so keep doing this workout I did this workout two days a week and I did two days a week of cardio two days a week of yoga and I have the the whole workout linked on my blog so if you want to check out the whole thing you can get access to it there um don't forget to sign up for my newsletter because there's lots of good stuff in it I think and um we'll keep traveling keep on doing workouts in cool places and hopefully, you guys will have a good time with it all right see you soon English (auto-generated)