If you are like me, you like your fitness to come on the cheap. That’s why you are probably here. Well it doesn’t come any cheaper than free and that’s where this first installment of our “Free Printable Workout Routines” series comes in!
I have done a lot of searching online to try to find quality workouts that can be done from the comfort of my own home and that don’t involve me paying extreme prices for a personal trainer to come by. That’s when several years ago, I stumbled upon a great website called Darebee.com.
They offer a plethora of free workout routines, as well as workout programs, meal plans, recipes, and more, which have all been researched and tested for maximum effectiveness.
The site is kept going by user donations and the suggested donation is $1. However, this is by no means mandatory. You don’t need a dime to unlock any of what is offered!
I recently participated in one of their month-long programs called 30 Days of Strength, and today, I’m going to share a little about it as well as my experience.
30 Days of Strength – What Is It and What Does It Involve?
According to Darebee’s website, 30 Days of Strength was designed to “increase strength, improve performance and stamina.” It is strictly a program that uses bodyweight exercises, with the exception of your need for a pull-up bar (more on that later).
Each day focuses on a certain body area and each workout is done in a circuit/interval training format.
The pattern goes in 8-day cycles that look like this:
Day 1: Legs
Day 2: Abs, Back, and Biceps
Day 3: Chest and Triceps
Day 4: Tendon Strength
Day 5: Legs
Day 6: Abs and Upper Body
Day 7: Chest and Triceps
Day 8: Stretching
You will be doing exercises such as push-ups, sit ups, pull-ups, mountain climbers, various lunges, planks, and more.
According to Darebee, this program carries a difficulty of 3 out of 5 (5 being the most difficult), which means it may not be suitable for beginners.
Each day’s workout comes with three levels of difficulty. Usually, Level 1 (beginner) will be 3 sets, Level 2 (intermediate) will be 5 sets, and Level 3 (expert) will be 7 sets, unless noted otherwise.
Lastly, if you are looking to pair a meal plan with this program, Darebee provides one that they recommend. In this case it is the Mass Effect Meal Plan. Check that out by clicking the link.
Troubleshooting – Dealing With Problems and Modifications
Each of the workouts in 30 Days of Strength is illustrated so that you know exactly what to do. However, if you are still stuck, Darebee provides a helpful User’s Manual to explain how each of their workouts goes. This is especially helpful for exercises where two limbs are worked individually, like lunges.
Additionally, if you are unsure from the illustrations about how to perform a certain exercise, the site provides an extensive exercise video library so you can see an actual person performing the moves.
For more information, feel free to check out their Get Started page, which goes over all the sections of their website.
Now as far as the modifications you can do for the 30 Days of Strength program itself, it is pretty easy to add or subtract from each workout. It goes at a pretty good pace to begin with and the three difficulty levels attempt to make it so you don’t have to modify.
However, if you can’t do the suggested number of push-ups, for example, it’s fine to do less or to do them in stages. You have a lot of freedom to do it at your own pace, though it is suggested you try to make it through as designed for the most benefit.
For this particular program, I made two modifications while going through (which I did on Level 1 because of time constraints).
The first was necessary because I do not have a pull-up bar at home and the weather is too cold outside to go to my local park and use their pull-up bar. Therefore, I used my Bodylastics resistance bands with a decent amount of weight instead and just performed until failure (which the site suggested doing for the pull-ups anyway).
It’s the same motion and same muscles being used, and by doing more reps than I would if I were doing push-ups, the discrepancy in weight balances out.
The second modification I made was that any time push-ups were involved, I incorporated my Perfect Pushup bars to add to the challenge and amount of muscles worked.
You could do more modifications, but these are the two I decided to work with at the time.
The Good – What I Liked About The Program
There was a great deal that I enjoyed about going through Darebee’s 30 Days of Strength.
I loved, first of all, that it was free. You can either view it in your web browser or print the whole program, at no cost. That’s a win for those looking to get fit on a budget. It also includes a meal plan if you want to try that out, making shopping a breeze!
Secondly, since I do my workouts in the early morning, it’s great getting up and having what you are going to do already planned out. There is really no thought needed. Just find where you left off and get it done! The fact that I don’t have to go anywhere but out to my living room (and not have to worry about space) was wonderful.
Thirdly, I liked that I was able to add my own equipment. In the case of the pull-ups, it was nice to still be able to access the program in an effective and meaningful way with my bands. The ability to add the pushup bars was great because it increased the challenge and number of muscles used for a more basic exercise.
Additionally, I appreciated how the days focused on a certain muscle group and went after it hard, but then gave several days before you went back to it. Though I dreaded the leg days that involved lunges and squats right after each other, there was enough time in between those workouts to make it doable.
Darebee has also done a great job of explaining how to perform each exercise and the workout for the day. The beauty of it is in its simplicity! The three difficulty levels also can extend the life of the program, because if you like it at Level 1, then you can do another month at Level 2 and then 3. That’s a whole season of your calendar year if you so choose!
Lastly, I feel like there were a good variety of moves for each individual workout.
The Meh – Things I Would Change Or Improve
As you can see by the previous section, there is a lot of good about 30 Days of Strength. That being said, there are a couple of things that I noticed on my journey through the program.
The first of these is that there really are no complete rest days built in. There are certainly lighter days and a good amount of time in between repeated muscle groups, but you are really going in 8 day cycles right up to the very end. This might be a little to intense for some.
Secondly, the challenge to each muscle group could benefit from a little more balance. The reason I was dreading the leg days was because even on Level 1, my legs felt dead afterward. However, I didn’t feel the same way when doing the chest and triceps days, so perhaps a little less challenge for the legs and a little more for the upper body would have been nice.
Finally, the majority of the program does a very good job of gradually increasing your amount of reps (usually increasing by two reps each time). However, Day 25 of legs (of course) shoots up from 16 to 20. That might now seem like a lot, but the jump of 4 more reps instead of two can really be felt.
I don’t think these detractors should by any means be deal breakers, but I think it is good to be aware of them going into it.
The Verdict – 30 Days Of Yes
I thoroughly enjoyed my time going through Darebee’s 30 Days of Strength workout program. In the world of free printable workout routines, I think it’s pros far outweigh it’s cons and see it as an effective way to build and tone your muscles. I would recommend it to anyone who struggles with designing their own workout plan.
Also, after you try out this or any of the other plans, consider donating that $1 to keep this valuable resource available. I don’t get anything if you do, it just seems right. Click the picture to the right to donate if you feel so led!
Now it’s your turn! What do you think of Darebee’s 30 Days of Strength? Have you used Darebee before? If so, what workout or program did you choose? Is there one you would like to see me go through and then review? Let me know in the comments below and feel free to ask any questions you may have.
For the month of January, I will be doing a challenge that I saw online. It’s alternating days of 100 push-ups/squats and 100 crunches/flutter kicks/mountain climbers! Check back at the end of January for the report on my experience!
Until next time, God bless and happy workouts!