5 of the Best Tools to Get in Shape. Fast.

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I've completed 3 Tough Mudders, these are 12-mile obstacle courses billed as some of the toughest events on the planet. Never heard of a Tough Mudder? Here's a little taste of what a half marathon through mud and brutal obstacles looks like…

Preparing for that, I tried a lot of things to get in shape.  As I described in my article Couch to Tough Mudder, I started out barely able to run a block and ended by being able to complete these insane Tough Mudder challenges without too much difficulty.  These tools will get the job done in my experience.

These are 5 of the best tools I've found to get and stay in shape at home, starting with the most time consuming, and finishing with what I currently use to stay in shape in less than 20 minutes most days. Let's dive right in!

5. P90X

My first course had been rained on the night before and was and up and down the hills and through the creeks of Southern Missouri.  Out of all three mudders I ran, this was by far the most brutal one.  When I saw 3 different people nursing broken arms and legs, and a life flight taking off from the course, I was very grateful for Tony Horton's excellent P90x course, and the Salomon SpeedCross 3 trail running shoes I had invested in.

If you're looking to go hardcore to turn your life around and are willing to invest the time to get in shape, don't look further than this one.  Make sure to use the included diet plan, none of these will work very well if you don't put good fuel in your body!

4.  Insanity

Insanity is insane, not quite sure of a better way to describe it.  Half the time investment of most of the P90X workouts, these range from half an hour to an hour, with most of the workouts clocking in around 45 minutes.  10 minutes in, if there aren't puddles of sweat below you on the floor, you aren't doing it right!

I used this to prepare for my second Tough Mudder along with running, and couldn't have been more pleased with the results.  This second run was by far the easiest for me, I am pretty sure I could have gone a few more laps on the course after repeating this program a few times.  I was also able to run anyone in our age 30+ soccer league down without hardly breaking a sweat by the second run through of this one.

Me being carried during a Tough Mudder for the wounded warrior carry
Tough?  Nah…I'll just catch a ride!  (me taking a break during the Wounded Warrior Carry)

If you are going for pure athletic ability for sports such as soccer or basketball, you won't go wrong with Insanity.  If you're looking more for the bodybuilder look, I think that P90X with weights is a better choice, but Insanity will build a lot of lean muscle.  This one also comes with a complete diet plan which is necessary to get the best results out of the program.

3.  T25

Need a structured program to shed those extra pounds and get into decent shape, but don't have a lot of time?  Less than half an hour will do it.  Like Insanity, T25 will have you dripping sweat in the first 10 minutes, or you aren't doing it right.  This program does not let up, you get virtually no breaks for 25 minutes.  Stick with it, and you'll see results!

One caveat with these programs as I mentioned before, is that much of the results are very dependent upon your diet.  The less time you spend working out, the more your diet matters.  Use the diet plan with this one, and I believe you'll be very happy with this program.  Out of all of the Beachbody programs I tried, this one was my favorite, mainly because I don't have tons of time to invest every day with 5 kids at home.

2.  Livestrong Treadmill

I use an older version treadmill from Livestrong to run when it is really nasty out.  This is probably my wife's favorite piece of equipment, she doesn't get outside much when it is lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Walking is one of the best ways to get started in your fitness journey if you are significantly overweight, and walking and running is a staple of my own fitness plans, so a treadmill should be considered a pretty basic piece to have in your arsenal.  Be clear when you buy these if you want to run or walk, some are good for running and heavier individuals, but if you are lighter or just want to walk you can get by with one of the mid-range models.

1.  The Total Gym

Ahh, my Total Gym.  This is the piece of equipment I use daily; I've got the latest Total Gym Fit model.  I can work out as little or as much as I have time for, and still feel like I'm getting in a great workout.  Most days, I hit this for about 15-20 minutes on my way to bed.  The flexibility of this thing makes you feel like you are playing, and there are videos to go along if you want a more structured program or when you are first getting started to learn the routines.

Out of everything here, this is the one I recommend the most to help you make a lifestyle change.  The other programs I mentioned earlier are good for a quick tune up, but this one works for me long term.  Thumbs way up for this one!

I hope this article helps you with your own fitness journey!  Have an awesome day.  No, better yet, MAKE it an awesome day! Don't forget to share if you've found something helpful here!

About the Author 

Don Smith

Former bank director who enjoys helping people master their finances. Father of five, founder of The Personal Growth Channel, and business owner.

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