Chris Zaremba is our specialist on fitness for the over fifties. He changed his life around from being obese at 50 to being in the best shape of his life a few years later, such was his transformation that he is the current Miami Pro Fitness Model UK Champion for his age group. Last year we ran a series of Chris’s favourite gym exercises, this time we look at his preferred approach for training the body when there’s no gym in-sight.

As I write this, I reckon I am 100 miles from the nearest gym. But even though I am on a great holiday, I don’t want to let my training disappear.

I’m a bit of a fan of going to the gym. But sometimes, I am somewhere with no access to one. These are usually the worst business trips, or the best holidays – as it means I’m somewhere miles from anywhere. As I write this, I reckon I am 100 miles from the nearest gym. But even though I am on a great holiday, I don’t want to let my training disappear.

So I have devised the 20:20 Workout. It’s what I do once per day – usually late afternoon or early evening when there’s no gym in-sight. The workout contains 20 exercises, each of which has 20 repetitions. That may sound a lot, but it should take less than 20 minutes – another reason to call it 20:20.

The 20:20 Workout includes exercises for all major muscle groups, plus abs, plus an element of cardio and some optional recommended stretching and flexibility work at the end. The only equipment you need is a chair, a door with doorknobs and a wall.

The exercises are grouped into 4, each with 5 exercises:

– Warm-up/Cardio
– Upper Body
– Lower Body
– Abs/Core

I have chosen the exercises to be particularly applicable to the 50+ age group, nothing too difficult (so no one-arm handstands, for example), but hopefully the exercises and the workout will be challenging enough for those younger.

Warm-up/cardio (5 exercises)

High knees running

Run on the spot, lifting your thighs to a parallel to the ground position. A rep is once you have lifted both right and left legs – so a set of 20 requires 40 movements.

Full star jumps

Stand with hands by your sides. Jump up and spread your legs, ideally wider than shoulderwidth. While jumping, raise your arms in a wide arc so that when you land, your hands touch vertically over your head. Try to keep your arms straight throughout. Repeat.

Low burpees

Start face down on the floor, weight on hands and toes, arms straight. Pull your knees into your chest and then quickly push them away. Repeat.

Squat jumps

Stand feet close together and arms by your sides. Squat down as low as you can and drop your hands so your fingertips are touching the floor in front of your toes. Then jump up as high as you can, reaching overhead with your hands. Land and repeat.

Mountain climbers

Start face down on the floor, weight on your hands and toes, arms straight. Bring one foot in so that the knee on the side is right by the chest. This is the starting position. Now quickly push that leg back and bring the other one in, so that the positions are reversed. Lift both feet off the floor briefly as they move (not dragging along the floor).

You should be well warmed up by now, heartrate appropriately elevated, ready to move on to the next group – 5 exercises for the upper body.

Two of my favourite words when it comes to resistance training are “Lower Slower”- you should resist gravity on this second phase of the exercise, don’t let gravity do the work for you.

Two of my favourite words when it comes to resistance training are ‘Lower Slower’ – you should resist gravity on this phase of the exercise. This phase should take twice as long as the exertion phase on average – say 2 seconds lowering, following 1 second of the exertion phase (obviously, unless you can levitate this is not possible during the jumping exercises!). And another favourite word of mine is, ‘Exonex’ – OK, it’s not a real word, I made it up – but it means ‘Exhale on Exertion’. So breathe out as you push or pull or lift then breathe out as you lower slower (again where applicable).

Upper body (5 exercises)

Press-ups: (chest)

There are many ways to do a press-up, but I like the simplest form – face down, body flat on the floor, hands on the floor alongside shoulders and fingers forwards. Extend your arms to press up while exhaling and then lower slower. Stop when your upper body is nearly touching the floor. Keep the body as straight a plank from heels to the top of your head.

Overhand pulls: (back)

Find a strong door with a handle on both sides – hotel room bathrooms are my favourite. Stand facing the edge of the open door, holding each handle with an overhand grip. Move your feet forwards and lean backwards so that your arms are straight. Then, with elbows going outwards (not downwards), pull yourself forwards as far as possible – which is usually when your head is about to hit the door edge (be careful!). Hold for a fraction of a second, feeling a bit or a squeeze in the upper back, then lower slower back to the starting position. Keep the body straight throughout.

Underhand pulls: (biceps)

Start and perform the exercise as per the previous one but this time hold each handle with an underhand grip.

Triceps dips: (triceps)

Sit on the edge of a strong chair, hands on the edge of the seat, legs straight and heels on the floor. Bend your arms to lower your body and straighten them to return to the start position.

Shoulder walls: (shoulders)

Stand facing away from a wall the approximate length of your upper body. Bend forward at the waist so that your back is horizontal and hands are on the wall, alongside your head, fingers upwards. You should be looking downwards, with the top of your head very close to the wall. From here push with your hands so that your upper body moves backwards – don’t move your feet. The ideal end position has your back and arms in a straight line – horizontal. Reverse back to the starting position.

Make it much more difficult, if you want to, by doing one arm at a time (sorry if you do this you’ll have to double the reps).

Lower body (5 exercises)

Lunges: (thighs and glutes)

Take a large step forward and then push back through the heel of your foot to return to the start position. Don’t let your knee pass beyond the toes of the lunging leg.

Bulgarian split squats: (thighs and glutes)

Stand on one leg and place the toes of your other leg on the seat of a chair behind you. With your front foot flat on the floor, bend your leg to about a 90-degree angle to lower your bottom between your standing foot and the chair. Make the exercise more difficult by holding your suitcases in each hand!

Wide squats: (hamstrings and quads)

Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart and hands by your sides. Keep your back as straight as possible and your head up as you bend at the knees and drop the hands in front of you so that your fingertips touch the floor (if you can’t reach the floor, go as far as you can). Extend your legs to return to the starting position.

Stair rocks: (calves)

Stand on the edge of a stair/step, weight on your forefeet with heels hanging over the edge. Lift and lower to extend and flex your calf muscles. Control the movement throughout.

Hip raises: (glutes and hamstrings)

Lie on the floor with your upper legs vertical and lower legs horizontal and resting on a chair with right angles at the knee and hip. Using your hamstrings and glutes, lift your hips off the floor. Lower slower, but don’t let the hips touch the ground before the next rep.

Make it much harder by doing one leg at a time, with the nonexercised leg held vertical.

Abs/core (5 exercises)

Floor crunches: (upper abs)

Lie on the floor, legs bent with your knees at the top of a pyramid. Then curl upwards a short distance, then down very slowly – don’t touch the floor with your shoulders between each rep.

Straight leg lifts: (lower abs)

Lie flat on the floor, feet together. Then, keeping your legs straight, lift them as far as possible. Next bring them down again towards (but not quite touching) the floor. Don’t add swing or momentum and keep the hips on the floor.

Bicycle crunches: (obliques and front of core)

Lie on the floor with your legs out in front of you and hands by your temples. Bring one leg into your opposite shoulder whilst twisting and folding across your torso. Extend your leg and body away from each other and then perform the movement across to the other side of your body with your other leg. These two movements complete one rep.

Front plank: (core)

Assume a press-up style position but with your weight supported on your forearms. Hold this position for 20 seconds.

Side planks: (core)

Lie on the floor on one side with your weight supported on your elbow and forearm and one foot (the other is stacked on top). Lift your hips to get into the side plank position. Keep straight and tight in this raised position, no sagging, or folding in the middle. Hold for 10 seconds on one side and then swap sides.

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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans