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Isn’t it funny how everybody used to be able to do something really cool? “I used to be able to bench press 300.” “Back in the day, I could run a five-minute mile.” “There was a time when I had six-pack abs…”

Unfortunately, it’s only fun to hear old war stories when you’re the old warrior. To everyone else, “remember when” is the lowest form of conversation. And it’s unnecessary, because as long as you’re still alive, there should be virtually nothing you “used to” do that you can’t do again if you set your mind to it.

Give us six months. That’s how long Onnit and I need to guide you back from whatever funk you’re in, to a state of strength, leanness, and overall health that you can apply to any goal you want to reclaim, no matter how lofty. We’re going to help you return to baseline—and beyond—whether you think you’re too old, too beat up, too overweight, or are held back by any other limit, real or imagined.

We’ll do it in multiple parts, the first of which we’re kicking off right now with a four-week block of exercise and lifestyle changes that will lay the foundation for the comeback of a lifetime.

Relax: we’re starting slow. The first order of business is to improve your mobility and treat any nagging injuries that cause you pain and impede your ability to perform. We also want to get you back in the habit of regular exercise and keeping that habit for the simple joy of being active. For the first four weeks of the Comeback Plan, you’ll focus on light exercise pulled from a number of fitness worlds—rehab, yoga, Tai Chi—along with simply making the time to go outside and take walks and play.

It will add up fast, helping you not only improve your general preparedness for more rigorous exercise down the road, but also your mindset, so you don’t fall back on old (bad) habits and backslide off the path to your ultimate goal.

See the plan details below to familiarize yourself with all the components of the program for the first four weeks, and then see the schedule at the bottom of the page for how to sequence them. If it seems like a lot, it is, but understand that nothing has been left out. Each day you wake up, we have a plan for you to execute. All you have to do is follow it—one thing at a time.

Check back on this site in February for the next installment.

For a nutrition program to accompany the training, go HERE.

For tips on goal-setting to help you stay the course, go HERE.

6-Month Comeback Plan – Part 1 Details

Here is a rundown of every component of the plan for the first four weeks. You’ll repeat each of these sessions weekly throughout the program.

Range of Motion and Recovery Circuit

Do this entire routine as a circuit, moving from station to station with minimum rest.

The order of the movements is not crucial; you may change the order, if necessary. Perform 5–10 minutes of light cardio beforehand (example: brisk walking, cycling on an exercise bike at a moderate pace).

Static Stretches

Hold each position for 6–20 seconds, as time permits.

Posterior Shoulder

Cross your arms in front of you and press your palms together. Keep your elbows straight. Feel the stretch in the back of your shoulders.

Side-Bending Lat

Reach both arms overhead as you bend at the waist to the opposite side.

Anterior Shoulder

Reach behind you with both arms and clasp your hands together. Bend you hips back and reach your arms behind you as you lower your torso to parallel and feel the stretch in the front of your shoulders.

Scorpion

Lie facedown on the floor and extend your arms out to your sides. Raise one leg up behind you and reach it over to touch the floor beneath your hand on the opposite side. Hold the position.

Downward Facing Dog

Get into a pushup position and push your hips back, bending your knees as needed to make your hips, back, and head form a straight line.

Spiderman

Get into a lunge position, kneeling on the floor. Both legs should form 90-degree angles. From there, step forward a few inches with your front foot and push your hips forward, reaching your hands to the floor inside your front foot so you feel a stretch in your opposite hip. Keep a long spine and look in front of you.

Warrior One

Stagger your legs with your front foot pointing forward and your rear one turned out 45 degrees. Look in at your belly button and roll your spine up until you’re upright. Now reach your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Try to straighten your rear knee.

Warrior Two

From the warrior one position, turn your torso 90 degrees to face to the side and extend your arms out to the sides, looking the direction of your front arm.

Warrior Three

Stand on one leg and raise your arms overhead, pressing your palms together. Bend at your hips and raise your free leg off the floor. Continue bending until your arms and leg are parallel to the floor, or as close as you can comfortably go while maintaining a long spine. Keep your hips square to the floor.

Frog

Place towels on the floor or use sliders. Kneel down and turn your toes out to each side. Keeping your head, spine, and hips aligned, begin sliding your knees outward until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs and hips. Gently push your body back into your hips to intensify the stretch.

Single-Leg Quadriceps

Stand on one leg and tuck your pelvis under so your lower back flattens out. Bend one knee and try to put your heel on your butt. Grasp the foot and gently pull to stretch the front of your thigh.

Standing Figure Four

Sit down on the floor and cross one leg over the other so your ankle is just outside the opposite knee. Place your hands behind you and push your body closer to your legs to intensify the stretch. Keep a long spine with shoulder blades drawn together and down. You should feel it on the outside of your hip.

Hamstring

Straighten one leg and extend your foot a few feet in front of you, resting your heel on the floor. Try to point your toes toward the ceiling. Bend your support leg and rest your hands on your knee for support. Bend your hips back while keeping your spine long until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

Lying Leg Cross Body

Lie on the floor and extend one leg overhead. Support it with your hands. Now reach for your foot with one hand and gently pull the leg over to the opposite side while keeping it straight. Your hips will follow it until they’re turned 90 degrees. Try to keep your shoulders flat on the floor.

Lying Leg Open Body

Begin as you did the cross-body stretch but open leg out to the opposite side. Lower as far as you can while keeping your hand on your foot and the knee nearly straight.

Calf

Stand behind a wall and rest the ball of your foot on a wall while your heel rests on the floor. Keep both legs straight and push your hips forward to intensify the stretch.

Bridge

Lie on the floor and reach your hands behind your head. Place your hands on the floor so your fingers point to your feet. Drive through your heels and hands to raise your body off the floor and your back and hips extend.

Dynamic Stretches

Arm Swings

Swing your arms in big circles, using your hips to power the movement. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Arm circles

Extend your arms out 90 degrees to your sides and make fists. Make small circles with your arms. Repeat in the opposite direction.

Side-to-side leg swings

Grasp a wall or other sturdy object for support and stand tall. Swing one leg inward and out ward as far as possible while keeping your hips square to the wall.

Front-to-back leg swings

Hold something for support and swing one leg forward and back while trying to keep your hips and upper body stable.

Hip flexor kick-outs

Stand in front of a wall and brace your hands against it for support. Bend your hips back until your torso is parallel to the floor and extend one leg behind you (picture a donkey kicking).

Four-step hip stretch

Step forward into a lunge and reach your hands overhead. Bend forward at the hips while keeping a long spine and rest your inside hand on the floor. Reach that hand outside your front leg and place it on the floor for support. Extend your front knee and move your hips back to feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Step forward with your rear leg to come back to standing.

Foam Rolling

Use a foam roller or other dense tool and roll out the following muscles on it. Rolling the complete length of a muscle region and back equals one rep. Do 10–20 reps for each.

● Achilles
● Posterior calf
● Lateral calf
● Hamstrings
● Lateral glutes
● Posterior glutes
● Quads
● Hip flexors (between the top of your thigh and pelvis)
● IT band (outer lateral edge of your thigh)
● Low back
● Mid back
● Upper back/neck
● Lats
● Internal rotators (muscles in the shoulders)
● Chest

Foundation Core Training

You’re going to need the excellent book True To Form, which you can get in Kindle form or hard copy off Amazon. Read the whole book, and then do the M/W/F routine on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the T/R/S routine on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday every week. This is a 10-minute commitment. No excuses.

ELDOA

ELDOA is a method of mobility training and one of my favorites for eliminating and preventing low-back pain. Learn more and find an instructor at ELDOAMethod.com.

The following are my top picks for active stretches you should perform each day. Each one targets different segments of the spine (“T6” and “T7,” for example, refer to vertebrae in the thoracic spine, or mid back). Hold each for 60–120 seconds.

T6-T7

T8-T9

L5-S1

You don’t have to do all the stretches at once—you can break them up throughout day to better suit your schedule.

Cold Therapy

Complete the following five-minute protocol in the shower, preferably in a fasted state.

Turn the water warm for 10 seconds, then cold for 20 seconds. Repeat for 10 rounds. If possible, one day per week, take a cold shower for 10 minutes or immerse yourself in an ice bath for 15–20 minutes.

Cold therapy is an age-old method of reducing inflammation and promoting recovery. The contrast in temperatures boosts circulation and the nutrients that your blood carries are shuttled into your muscles.

Yoga with Deep Breathing

Yoga is an extremely worthwhile practice for increasing flexibility and strength as well as clearing the mind. I’d like you experiment with it in the morning, but I don’t expect you to launch into a demanding routine that ties you up in knots. For the purposes of this program, we’ll focus on yoga’s flexibility and relaxation benefits.

The actual yoga routine you do is up to you, but my top recommendation is Gaiam TV and any of the 45–60-minute relaxation routines they offer. No power or “calorie-blasting” yoga! It should not be an intense, stressful workout but an energizing, restorative one. If you want a custom Kundalini yoga routine created for you, then here’s a solid routine from one of my friends, Dr. Somer Nicole.

In addition, I highly recommend you read this article or listen to this breathing podcast and engage in deep nasal, belly breathing during your entire yoga routine. Try to do yoga in the sunshine to amplify Vitamin D levels. If that isn’t an option, use a brightly lit room. Focus on your breath.

Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Take a golf ball and roll each foot for 60 seconds, but you can go as long as five minutes if you’d like. Here is a video that shows you how to do it.

Believe it or not, taking care of your feet improves total-body health. Releasing knots in the fascia (the connective tissue that wraps and connects your muscles) in your feet helps improve overall mobility and recovery from exercise. It can also prevent problems associated with running and generally being more active, such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and other nagging injuries.

Total-Body Injury Prevention Workout

This routine targets the three most commonly weak and damaged areas of the body—the rotator cuff in the shoulders, the hips, and core (including the lower back). The exercises aren’t particularly taxing, but they will improve your muscle endurance to handle more challenging routines in the future.

Warmup: Perform 3–5 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as jogging, cycling, or work on an elliptical trainer, and then complete the following exercises.

● Arm swings, 10 reps
● Arm circles, 10 reps
● Side-to-side leg swings, 10 reps
● Front-to-back leg swings, 10 reps
● Hip flexor kick-outs, 10 reps

Circuit 1

Complete the following rotator cuff exercises as a circuit. Repeat for 3–4 total rounds, resting 30–60 seconds after each round.

Front Raise
Reps: 15

Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand at arm’s length. Raise the weights up to eye level while keeping your arms straight.

Side Raise
Reps: 15

Raise the weights out 90 degrees to your sides.

Empty Cans
Reps: 15

Hold your arms out 90 degrees and turn your thumbs toward the floor, as if you were pouring water out of a can. Then rotate your thumbs back toward the ceiling. Keep your arms extended.

Circuit 2

Complete the following lower-body exercises as a circuit. Repeat for 3–4 total rounds, resting 30–60 seconds after each round.

Fire Hydrants
Reps: 20 (each leg)

Get on all fours and raise one knee out to the side 90 degrees.

Lateral Lunge
Reps: 20 (each leg)

Hold dumbbells in each hand and step out to one side. Lower your body into a lunge, as deep as your flexibility will allow.

Hip Hikes
Reps: 20 (each leg)

Stand on a block or bench that elevates your body a few feet. Stand on it with one foot and let the other hang free. Squat down on your support leg as deeply as you can and then come back up. Try to keep your hips level and square.

Front Plank w/ Taps
Reps: 10

Get into pushup position and then lower your forearms to the floor. Keeping a long spine so your head and hips are aligned, brace your abs, and hold the position. From there, bend one knee at a time and then lower your foot back down, tapping it to the floor.

Circuit 3

Complete the following core exercises as a circuit. Repeat for 3–4 total rounds, resting 30–60 seconds after each round.

Side Plank Rotation
Reps: 10

Lie on your side, supporting your weight on your forearm and the outside edge of your foot. Brace your abs and bridge your hips off the floor so your body forms a straight line from your head to your hips. Hold the position as you rotate and reach your free arm down and through to your opposite side. Rotate back. That’s one rep.

Crunch
Reps: 10

Lie on your back on the floor and bend your knees 90 degrees. Plant your feet flat. Cross your arms, reaching to touch your opposite shoulders, and crunch your torso off the floor until your elbows touch your thighs.

Superman
Reps: 10

Lie on the floor face down and reach your arms overhead. Brace your abs and raise your torso off the floor while simultaneously raising your legs. You’ll look like Superman flying.

Cool-down

Hold each of the following stretches for 6–20 seconds, and repeat for 3 total rounds.

● Warrior One
● Warrior Two
● Warrior Three
● Standing Hamstring
● Downward Dog

Nature Walk

Take a one to two-hour walk outdoors. Do this in a grassy or wooded area so you can experience as much of nature as possible. No huffing and puffing—don’t make it a workout—just breathe deeply through your nose. Do this without playing music or using electronics. Listen to your body.

Foam Roller or Massage

Do a full-body foam rolling session. Do 10–15 rolls per muscle area (listed below). Alternatively, you can do a 60–90-minute full-body massage.

● Achilles
● Posterior calf
● Lateral calf
● Hamstrings
● Lateral glutes
● Posterior glutes
● Quads
● Hip flexors (between the top of your thigh and pelvis)
● IT band (outer lateral edge of your thigh)
● Low back
● Mid back
● Upper back/neck
● Lats
● Internal rotators (muscles in the shoulders)
● Chest

Hot/Cold Contrast

Alternate a five-minute cold shower, ice bath soak, or easy cold water swim (water temperature of 55 degrees or less) with 10 minutes in a dry sauna, wet sauna, or infrared sauna.

Go back and forth for the maximum available time, preferably 30–45 minutes.

TaiChi, Kundalini Yoga, Bikram Yoga, or Nature Walk

Spend 10–30 minutes practicing TaiChi, using deep nasal breathing. I highly recommend this Body Wisdom DVD.

Other options include the same amount of time of Kundalini yoga, Bikram yoga (find classes near you), or a nature walk.

The “Fabulous Four” Injury-Prevention Workout

This routine zeroes in on your shoulders, working to offset years of imbalanced chest training or sitting at a desk. Perform the following circuit with a light dumbbell or exercise band.

External Rotation
Reps: 50 (each side)

Lie on your side with a dumbbell in hand, or attach a band to a sturdy object a few feet in front of you. Bend your elbow and keep your upper arm stuck to your side. Slowly rotate your forearm from pointing down to pointing up at the ceiling.

Front Raise
Reps: 50

Stand holding dumbbells or the free loops of one or two bands. Raise the weight overhead with straight arms.

Side-Lying Leg Raise
Reps: 50 (each side)

Lie on your side with your head supported and legs extended. Raise your top leg up as high as you can without twisting or raising your hips. Lower it back but stop short of where your leg would rest.

Plank
Reps: Hold for 2 minutes total

Get into pushup position and then lower your forearms to the floor. Keeping a long spine so your head and hips are aligned, brace your abs, and hold the position. Hold for 2 minutes total, resting as needed.

Repeat the circuit once more.

Easy Recovery Swim, Bike, or Elliptical

Swim 1000 total meters at an easy pace. Use different strokes and to break it up into intervals of 50’s and 100’s.

If you can’t get to a pool, do an easy bike ride or use an elliptical trainer for 30–50 minutes. Your pace should be light enough that you can maintain a conversation throughout.

Swim Repeats: 25 meters

If desired, you can substitute a rowing machine or elliptical trainer for the swim, following the same meter requirements for the rowing machine.

Warm up with 500m, alternating 50m of a drill like swimming with a kickboard or doing a particular stroke with 50m of freestyle swimming. Then swim 16–20 rounds of 25m at the maximum pace you can sustain. Rest 10 seconds between rounds. Cool down with

200m at an easy pace.

If using an elliptical, warm up for 5 minutes and then work as hard as possible for 30 seconds. Go easy for 30 seconds, and repeat for 15–20 rounds.

Body-Weight Workouts

Alternate the following workouts each time the schedule calls for a body-weight routine. You can choose either one to start.

Workout A

Warmup: Perform 3–5 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as jogging, cycling, or using an elliptical trainer, and then complete the following exercises.

● Arm swings, 10 reps
● Arm circles, 10 reps
● Side-to-side leg swings, 10 reps
● Front-to-back leg swings, 10 reps
● Hip flexor kick-outs, 10 reps

Circuit

Complete the following circuit of body weight exercises. Repeat for 3–5 total rounds, resting 30–60 seconds after each round.

Lateral Lunge
Reps: 12 (each side)

Hold dumbbells in each hand and step out to one side. Lower your body into a lunge, as deep as your flexibility will allow.

Bridge
Reps: 12

Perform the bridge as described in the static stretches above but do it for reps. Drive through your heels to elevate your hips and then lower back to the floor.

Side Plank Rotation
Reps: 12 (each side)

Lie on your side, supporting your weight on your forearm and the outside edge of your foot. Brace your abs and bridge your hips off the floor so your body forms a straight line from your head to your hips. Hold the position as you rotate and reach your free arm down and through to your opposite side. Rotate back. That’s one rep.

Pushup
Reps: 12

Place your hands on the floor at shoulder-width apart and extend your legs behind you in a straight line. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Breathe into your belly and brace your core. Pull your shoulder blades down and together.

Think about twisting your hands into the floor to create tension in your shoulders. Begin lowering your body toward the floor by pulling yourself down with your upper back. Stop when your chest is about an inch above the floor and press back up, continuing to push until your shoulder blades are spread wide apart.

Mountain Climbers
Reps: 12 (each side)

Get into pushup position and alternate driving one knee at a time up and across to the opposite elbow. Try to keep your shoulders square to the floor and your core braced.

Little Big
Reps: 12

Lie on your back on the floor and extend your arms overhead. Extend your legs. Perform a situp and reach for your knees as you draw your knees in toward you.

Lunge
Reps: 12 (each side)

Step forward and lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the floor and your rear knee nearly touches the floor. Keep your torso upright. Step back to the starting position.

Cool-down

Hold each of the following stretches for 6–20 seconds.

● Four-step hip stretch
● Posterior shoulder
● Anterior shoulder
● Calf

Workout B

Warmup: Perform 3–5 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as jogging, cycling, or work on an elliptical trainer, and then complete the following exercises.

● Side-to-side leg swings, 10 reps
● Front-to-back leg swings, 10 reps
● Hip flexor kick-outs, 10 reps
● Arm swings, 10 reps
● Arm circles, 10 reps

Circuit

Complete the following circuit of body weight exercises. Repeat for 3–5 total rounds, resting 30–60 seconds after each round.

Lateral Lunge
Reps: 12 (each leg)

Bridge
Reps: 12

Front Plank w/ Taps
Reps: 12

Pushup
Reps: 12

Mountain Climber
Reps: 12 (each leg)

Little Big
Reps: 12

Bow Row
Reps: 12 (each side)

Attach an exercise band to a sturdy object and hold the opposite end in one hand. Stand away from the anchor point to put tension on the band and stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Extend your free arm in front of you and make a strong fist. Draw the arm holding the band back as if you were drawing back on a bow to fire an arrow; simultaneously step back into a staggered stance.

Lunge
Reps: 12 (each leg)

Cool-down

Hold each of the following stretches for 6–20 seconds.

● Four-Step Hip Stretch
● Posterior Shoulder
● Anterior Shoulder
● Calf

Nature Workout Circuit

Mixing walking, running, sprinting, and strength training transforms a hike from a simple walk into a full-body workout.

Begin with a brisk walk for 5–10 minutes, preferably on a trail. As you continue along the trail, change your pace. For example, jog easily for 2 to 3 minutes, pick it up a bit for 3 to 5, then sprint or speed-walk hard for 15 to 60 seconds. Recover at a slower pace until your breathing returns to normal.

Now perform any one of the following:

A.) A strength exercise for 60 to 90 seconds—for example, pushups, triceps dips on a log, or squats.
B.) A balance move for 60–90 seconds, such as walking along a log or fence.
C.) A ground or crawling motion for 60–90 seconds (crab walking, bear crawling, belly crawling, etc.)

This makes up one cycle. Do 4 to 6 cycles, mixing up the strength moves and varying your speeds on the walk and jog.

Training Schedule

Weeks 1–2

Day 1: Range of Motion and Recovery Circuit; Foundation Core Training; Cold Therapy; ELDOA

Day 2: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Day 3: Total Body Injury-Prevention Workout; Foundation Core Training

Day 4: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Day 5: Nature Walk; Foundation Core Training; Foam Roller or Massage

Day 6: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Hot/Cold Contrast

Day 7: TaiChi, Kundalini Yoga, Bikram Yoga, or Nature Walk; Foam Roller or Massage

Week 3

Day 1: Range of Motion and Recovery Circuit; Fabulous Four Injury-Prevention Workout;
Foundation Core Training; Cold Therapy; ELDOA

Day 2: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Day 3: Total Body Injury-Prevention Workout; Foundation Core Training; Easy Recovery Swim, Bike, or Elliptical

Day 4: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Day 5: Nature Walk; Foundation Core Training; Foam Roller or Massage

Day 6: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Hot/Cold Contrast

Day 7: TaiChi, Kundalini Yoga, Bikram Yoga, or Nature Walk; Foam Roller or Massage

Week 4

Day 1: Range of Motion and Recovery Circuit; Fabulous Four Injury-Prevention Workout;
Foundation Core Training; Cold Therapy; ELDOA

Day 2: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Day 3: Body Weight Workout (A or B); Foundation Core Training; 25-meter Swim Repeats, Row, or Elliptical

Day 4: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Fast Foot Mobility Routine

Day 5: Nature Workout Circuit; Foundation Core Training; Foam Roller or Massage

Day 6: Yoga w/ Deep Breathing; Foundation Core Training; Easy Recovery Run or Bike; Hot/Cold contrast

Day 7: TaiChi, Kundalini Yoga, Bikram Yoga, or Nature Walk; Foam Roller or Massage