I Gave up Not Exercising for Lent This Year

After four years of not exercising, I developed a plan to give that up for Lent. I highlight some of the bodyweight excercises I will perform, compliments to "The Herschel Walker Workout." I also share a song to sing on meatless Fridays during Lent.

As I mentioned in my Valentine’s Day-oriented post last week, here’s a brief post regarding Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Fasting for Lent

The traditional three parts of Lent, which lasts 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, are praying, fasting, and giving alms. On Sundays, one doesn’t have to fast, at least that’s how I’ve followed this tradition in the past, so there are really 40 days and 40 nights of fasting.

In this post, I’m just focusing on a subset of fasting: giving up, or doing something, in addition to normal fasting. As such, I have chosen to give up not exercising.

No meat on Fridays

Also, remember, for Catholics, there is no eating meat on Fridays during Lent, as Blessed Catholic Mom kindly reminds us.

A song to sing on meatless fridays

On Fridays, though, one is encouraged to sing the National Anthem of cows, “Cows with Guns” by Dana Lyons:1There seems to be a 2nd Amendment allegory to this song.

Cows with Guns 
(lyrics snippet)

Nobody thunk it, nobody knew
No one imagined the great cow guru
Cows are one

He hid in the forest, read books with great zeal
He loved Che Guevera, a revolutionary veal
Cow Se Tongue

He spoke about justice, but nobody stirred
He felt like an outcast, alone in the herd
Cow doldrums

He mooed we must fight, escape or we’ll die
Cows gathered around, cause the steaks were so high
Bad cow pun

But then he was captured, stuffed into a crate
Loaded onto a truck, where he rode to his fate
Cows are bummed
Image snapshot of the music video "Cows with Guns" by Dana Lyons recorded in 1996.
Bad cow pun.

Rationale for Giving up Not Exercising

Ever since the inception of Covid back in December 2019/January 2020, I essentially quit performing any deliberate physical fitness exercising besides, say, mowing the lawn or creating and maintaining a garden. This has been unusual for me, since I’ve always performed some type of physical fitness since I was in grade school.

Even during my adult years after high school and until Covid, I continued to run (sometimes 20+ miles on my “long days”), occasionally lift weights or do push-ups, and bicycle (commuted by bicycle for 10+ years). Some days I’d ride my bicycle 19 miles round-trip to Trader Joe’s to get some exercise and also pick-up a few grocery items. I was in good condition for a middle age guy. Since 2020, I can no longer say that.

So, I believe my choosing to give up not exercising and begin a basic physical fitness/exercise program for Lent is appropriate.


My approach will be to focus mostly on bodyweight exercises. At the back of my mind is “The Herschel Walker Workout.”

For those who don’t know, Herschel was a star athlete in college at the University of Georgia and in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys. Throughout his football career, he never really relied on lifting weights for physical fitness. Rather, he would just perform bodyweight exercises. Astonishingly, he developed so much endurance and strength that he would perform thousands (yes, 1,000 to 3,000) of push-ups and sit-ups every day.

My plan, in contrast, will be simple: I’ll just focus on performing a few repetitions for each exercise without straining or injuring myself.

Select exercises

  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Tricep dips
  • Tricep curls
  • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder press
  • Squats & lunges
  • Leg stretches


I really don’t need much, if any, equipment. Although, I’ll incorporate two pieces of equipment that I already have.


I only have one dumbbell. It has ten five-pound iron plates. So I can put a toal of 50 pounds on the dumbbell. That amount is way more than I’d want, or need, to use for any exercise. So, I’m fine with this dumbbell and amount of weight.

Multi-use Workout Bar

I also got a workout bar from a discount bin at ALDI Grocery Store. It was a reject/return from a prior customer.

It was easy to assemble by referencing the instructions. It’s almost like something one would get from IKEA.

In the above image, the workout exercise bar is assembled and mounted. It doesn’t require screws or attachments to the door frame, which is clever. I can just move it to the floor to perform other exercises.

The instructions suggest it can hold up to 250 pounds. I’m only 175 pounds and it seemed sturdy when I tested it. I’m sure there are better workout bars available from other vendors that could hold body weights that are more than 400 pounds.

Goal During Lent

My humble goals during Lent will not only focus on the body by exercising, but also focus on the mind and spirit by reading and reflecting on what I read.

Exercise (body)

My plan is to workout 2-3 times per week.

I was able to perform four pull-ups when I tested the workout bar prior to Lent, and that was a struggle. I have since performed two workouts already for Lent and have been able to perform two sets of five repetitions with the pull-up exercise each time. I do want to point out that I used to be much stronger than this in my youth. Age and not exercising take their toll!

We’ll see whether I make any meaningful improvements performing pull-ups by Easter Sunday.

Mind and Spirit

For mind and spirit, I plan to engage in at least one reading and reflection per week from the Bible or a spiritual/philosophical-related book. Doing so will help me address the “mind/thinking” and “spirit/soul” aspects of the saying, “mind, body, and spirit.”2Mental, physical, and spiritual.

Furthermore, I have other books and the Internet that I could use to read something meaningful and spiritual.

For example, prior to formulating this plan for Lent, I picked-up a book by Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Selected Essays, which had been collecting dust on my bed stand.3My Bible has been collecting even more dust. I read one short chapter titled “Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions.” I should also point out that I don’t read much anymore. So, my book of selected essays by Montaigne is convenient because it’s just 15 essays that may be read in part or in whole, and in any order. The complete book, Essays,4In the blog post, “Translating Montaigne,” the writer compares and contrasts a few different translations of Essays. My Selected Essays is translated by Frame (1943). If I begin reading the complete Essays, then I’ll need to decide on which version to use: Frame’s (1966), Hazlitt’s (1877), or some other translator’s version. which I haven’t read and don’t have, includes 107 essays.

Here’s what Montaigne wrote about the importance of making a plan (which I have diligently done so for Lent!):

It is no wonder, says an ancient,5Seneca. that chance has so much power over us, since we live by chance. A man who has not directed his life as a whole toward a definite goal cannot possibly set his particular actions in order. A man who does not have a picture of the whole in his head cannot possibly arrange the pieces. What good is a provision of colors for a man who does not know what he has to paint? No one makes a definite plan of his life, and we think about it only piecemeal. The archer must first know what he is aiming at, and then set his hand, his bow, his string, his arrow, and his movements for that goal. Our plans go astray because they have no direction and no aim. No wind serves the man who has no port of destination.

Montaigne. “Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions.” Selected Essays.6Translated by Donald M. Frame, Walter J. Black, Inc., 1943, pp. 124-125.

Closing Words

So, I’m a man with a plan for Lent. And, I’ve begun my fast from not exercising.

Also, as of the publication date of this post, I already completed two days of workouts, so I’m on track, according to plan. After Easter, I will provide an update.

As for you, did you do anything special for Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras. What are your plans for Lent?


  • 1
    There seems to be a 2nd Amendment allegory to this song.
  • 2
    Mental, physical, and spiritual.
  • 3
    My Bible has been collecting even more dust.
  • 4
    In the blog post, “Translating Montaigne,” the writer compares and contrasts a few different translations of Essays. My Selected Essays is translated by Frame (1943). If I begin reading the complete Essays, then I’ll need to decide on which version to use: Frame’s (1966), Hazlitt’s (1877), or some other translator’s version.
  • 5
  • 6
    Translated by Donald M. Frame, Walter J. Black, Inc., 1943, pp. 124-125.


  1. Are you still working out? I hope so. I started working out a few days before Christmas and am still at it. It was awesome when I first noticed muscle definition in my arms. Feeling better and hopefully I keep up this new habit.

    • Your comment got held-up in the filtering system. Yes, I’m still working out using the plan mentioned for Lent — some weights and some body-weight exercises. I did write in my Lent blog that I’d provide an update, and will — probably in the next week or two. For now, I’m writing a bit of an update (at least it relates to exercise), so it should be published today (18 May 2024). It’s good to hear that you also have started to work out. Like you, I do notice some muscle definition; and, I got stronger just in 2-3 months. Joe

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