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JZ's workout journal

How To Look Like Jesus: Best Workouts For Busy and Broke Youth Pastors

My Full Disclaimer: This is a guilty pleasure post and coincides with the post: Youth Pastor Physical Care.  If you are not interested in fitness or exercise I would recommend not reading this post. Also, I am not a medical doctor so if these suggested workouts don’t work; please don’t blame and/or sue me (P90x and Insanity workouts will give you your $ back if they don’t produce results).  I am only sharing what worked for me.  Please consult your doctor before doing any physical activity.


I love talking about why youth pastors need to consider working out.  I started working out and recording my workouts at the age of 12, my dad was a bodybuilder, and I underwent ACE (American Council of Exercise) certification back in 2001.  I love youth ministry and working out.  So I am always struggling how to integrate exercise in my youth ministry lifestyle.

Why Youth Pastors Need To Exercise:

–  ministry is spiritually and emotionally draining and working out helps the body recharge and clears the mind.  working out got me through a lot of stressful and dark youth ministry days

–  youth ministry is not necessary physically exhausting, so it may be wise to consider being more physically active

–  many of the older-veteran ministry guys/gals are having health problems because of the intense ministry lifestyle

–  most youth pastors are competitive and exercising helps alleviate the competitive spirt

–  God said to take care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 3:16–17; 6:19–20)

–  youth pastors have to stay fit for their “hot” husband/wife

–  some youth workers want to look young because their metabolism is slowing down and the stress is effecting their hair color

Youth Pastor Lifestyle

Two words that describe the youth pastor lifestyle:  busy and broke.  Over the years, I experimented with many workout routines that are: (1) highly conducive to crazy youth ministry schedules (2) cheap (3) simple and (4) produce fast results. So it is my goal to share with all of my youth ministry friends particular workout guidelines and routines I have found to work.

WorkOut Guidelines To Follow:

–  have the freedom to workout on your own time ( i prefer mornings)

–  workout at home or outside

–  make working out a priority.  don’t ditch working out because life and ministry are “busy”

–  get on a program so you are able to track reps and progression

–  have a clear start and finish date

–  be realistic by starting small

–  clarify your fitness goals.  i.e. lose weight, improve cardio, build muscle, get in shape, run in a marathon

–  listen to music when getting your sweat on

–  record all workout routines that includes # of sets and reps, date, and body weight in a notebook.  it helps to see the workout results, which motivates excerise completion.

–  identify a reward if you finish the workout program.  incentives greatly help!  if you complete the program what will you reward yourself?

–  find a friend to workout with you

Best Workouts For Busy and Broke Youth Pastors:

Running– One of the most easiest thing to do is slip on a pair of shoes and go for a run.  The thing about running is that you need to find a running program and goal that works.  You need to be training for something like a marathon, 5k, or 10k so there is a clear finish date.  Workout for runners:  Beginner Training Plan- 6 Weeks to a 5K,  running workoutsrace training workouts, and running tips.  I would also highly recommend to visit www.runrevrun.net which is a website for pastors and friends to share stories about trying to keep — or get — fit.

No Weights, No Problem Workout– This is a circuit workout that totally utilizes the entire body and it’s weight.  The workout consists of 8 exercises with 2 sets each.  Please visit the Men’s Health website (click here) to view the exact workout routine.

Insanity Workout– Insanity is a 60 day DVD workout that has 10 insane interval workouts.  Each workout is 45 minutes and targets fat burning, cardio, and endurance.  Shaun T (the workout creator) developed the program on the circuit training model in order to deliver fast results in 60 days.  This workout is tough and requires a lot of intensity.  To find out more about the Insanity workout click here.

P90x– P90X contains 12 intense DVD workouts that focus on muscle groups or a training technique.  Get ready to do a lot of push and pull ups.  This workout can be completed all in your home.  P90x provides you with a 90-day calendar which illustrates a daily overview of your workout routine.  P90X is all about building muscle and muscle confusion.  Personally I like P90x over Insanity, however Insanity is nuts.  In the Fall I am going to re-do the Insanity workout and compare and contrast the results with the P90x workout.  For more info check out the P90x website

GSP Rushfit–  Rushfit was developed by Welter Weight UFC Champion, George St. Pierre.  Rushfit is a 8 week in home video workout.  Rushfit is all about strength, endurance, and explosive power training and ab & core conditioning. Essentially George has designed a workout that builds muscle, improves cardio, and cuts fat.  I am currently experimenting with Rushfit and it is difficult!  The conditioning segments kills me.  For more info check out the Rushfit website.

No Workout, No Carbs–  If you dont like to workout, I have a solution for you– The Slow Carb Diet.  The Slow Carb Diet is amazing because it is simple, cheap, and no exercise is needed to lose weight.  The Slow Carb Diet has 5 rules.

Rule #1: Avoid “white” carbs

Rule #2: Eat The Same Few Meals Over and Over Again (each meal has to include and limited to: protein, legumes, and vegetables)

Rule #3: Don’t drink calories (water and coffee only!)

Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit and dairy

Rule #5: Have 1 cheat day per week (1 day per week you can eat an unlimited amount of any food/beverage)

When I did the Slow Carb Diet I lost 13lbs in 29 days.  I didn’t believe it.  All I did was follow these rules. If you want to learn more about The Slow Carb Diet click here.


What are other best workouts that are cheap, simple and conducive to the youth pastor lifestyle?

What workouts have you had success with?




About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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  1. I’m currently doing P90x and it’s KILLER, but I’m loving it. I’m not doing the Yoga portion of the workout though. I have some personal convictions because of the origin of Yoga so I replaced that workout with the stretch session and ab ripper. Good post!

  2. Awesome post Jeremy! I really needed to hear this. I was running a lot the past 2 years but have gotten out of the weekly routine so this is an encouragement to me to get my butt back on the road…thanks!

    • I hear ya bro. It is soo hard to keep pace in your workout and ministry schedule. That is why I love have a start and finish date because if I get behind I feel so guilty. Plus it helps giving the muscles a rest.

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