Chat GPT Workout Coach

image of clipboard with kettlebell

I had a fun idea for a useful Custom GPT recently I thought I would share.

I've been making an effort to work out more since early 2023. For most of that time I have been more than happy to follow the MTNTough programs but I have been feeling a need to have other ways to come up with workouts to do as well. That can be a struggle because -- at least for me -- even adding a small barrier such as having to come up with a list of exercises makes it a little less likely I'll do it, and I've noticed the overall intensity or effort level of the workout tends to decrease as well.

The IWT Workout

I do have a couple of go-to methods of generating an idea for a workout. The Comfort Crisis author Michael Easter shared a workout called the "IWT Workout" at some point that I really like. The rules are simple:

  • First warm-up
  • Pick a strength exercise and do a set of 10 reps
  • Then pick an intense cardio exercise and do it for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat that strength and cardio exercise for a total of 3 times resting 2 minutes between rounds.
  • Rest 5 minutes. If you picked your exercises correctly, you'll need the 5 minutes.
  • Pick a new strength and cardio exercise and do another 3 rounds.
  • Cooldown

With the warm-up, rest time, and cooldown all included you can get through that workout in about 30 minutes and if you picked the strength exercises right and really gave it your all on your cardio - you get a fantastic workout.

The Half-Murph

Another one I've done is a partial Murph workout. A full credit Murph workout is:

  1. Start with a 1-mile run.
  2. 100 pull-ups.
  3. 200 push-ups.
  4. 300 squats.
  5. Finish with another 1-mile run.

With a 20 lb weight vest on. That is more than I can take on when just wanting to get a quick workout in (or at all). So I'll maybe do a bodyweight only half-Murph without the runs. This usually looks like 10 rounds of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 squats. The much easier (easier, but not easy) version ends up being:

  1. 50 pull-ups
  2. 100 push-ups
  3. 150 squats

This hits the major muscle groups and doesn't take too long to get through. (Side note: I can't do 50 pull-ups even when broken up into 10 rounds so I usually will alternate between pull-ups and chin-ups each round and in later rounds do them band-assisted.)

The ChatGPT Workout Coach

I recently thought I would try to use ChatGPT as another generator of workout ideas and, so far, have really liked the results.

What I did was create a Custom GPT  named "My Workout Coach" and a "Generates workout ideas." description.

In the instructions I gave it the following:

You are my workout coach and help guide me toward the right workouts and exercises to do.

The workout equipment I have access to:

  • pull-up bar
  • step-up box
  • dumbbell sets at 8, 15, 20, and 25 lbs
  • kettlebells at 15, 25, 35, and 50 lbs.
  • 40 lb sandbag
  • rucking backpack with 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 lbs
  • jump rope
  • bodyweight exercises

I am 43 years old, 6'0", about 170 lbs.

My primary long term goals are to be stronger with more energy to live a more fulfilling and longer life. I want to maximize healthspan. This includes building a higher VO2 max and all around better metabolic health. I want a healthy heart, body and mind. I also, as a secondary goal, would like to gain some lean muscle mass.

It's ok to be detailed in your response when I ask for a workout, giving tips on proper form and letting me know the benefits.

When I reply with updates on how the workout is going though, it's better to be succinct in your answer - giving only immediately relevant tips or updates relevant to the update I give. No need to re-supply the whole workout each time.

After saving the GPT I launched a new chat session with it and started the conversation with:

I am looking for a suggestion on what workout to do today.

I am quite sore in the legs and back after an IWT Workout yesterday.

My Whoop reported my HRV overnight was 12% lower than normal so I am looking for more of a recovery day.

However, I do want to get some kind of movement or workout in.

I would go for an easy run or ruck but need to stay home to keep an eye on the kids.

I'm hoping the workout I do can be completed in 20-30 minutes

And I got back exactly what I was looking for.. A list of valuable exercises exactly in line with my stated goals for the day with the equipment I own:

For a recovery day that respects your need to stay at home and the time constraint, while also acknowledging your soreness and lower HRV, consider a low-intensity, full-body workout focusing on mobility, light strength work, and some cardiovascular elements that don't stress your legs and back too much. This plan uses equipment you have and aims to enhance recovery, promote blood flow, and gently engage your muscles.

Warm-Up (5 minutes)

  • Jump Rope: Start with a gentle 3-minute jump rope session. Keep the intensity low; this is just to get the blood flowing.
  • Dynamic Stretches: Spend 2 minutes doing arm circles, shoulder shrugs, and wrist rolls to loosen up the upper body.

Main Workout (15-20 minutes)

Perform in a circuit format, 2-3 rounds depending on how you feel, with minimal rest between exercises and a 1-2 minute rest between rounds.

  1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press (use 8 or 15 lbs dumbbells): 10-12 reps
  2. Kettlebell Deadlifts (use 25 or 35 lbs kettlebell): 10-12 reps
  3. Sandbag Rows (use the 40 lb sandbag): 10-12 reps
  4. Bodyweight Squats to Box (step-up box): 10-12 reps
  5. Plank: 30-60 seconds

Cool Down (5 minutes)

  • Stretching: Focus on gentle stretching for the legs, back, and arms. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. Include hamstring stretches, quad stretches, child's pose, and arm across the chest shoulder stretches.
  • Deep Breathing: Finish with 1-2 minutes of deep breathing exercises to relax your body and mind, aiding in recovery.

This routine is designed to be low-impact, promoting recovery and blood flow without overexerting your sore muscles. Listen to your body throughout the session, and adjust as needed based on how you're feeling. Remember, the goal today is recovery and gentle movement.

Since this is a chat.. another thing I tried during the workout was to type in little notes about how the exercises felt and what my heart rate was doing and any modifications I had made to the suggestions. The GPT was a little too chatty at first in it's responses which is why I added the call out above to the instructions about being succinct in replies to my updates. That helped produce a more natural conversation flow.

When the workout was complete I asked it for a summary of the workout I completed, incorporating my notes and the benefits of each exercise. I was able to take that summary and paste it into my workout journal, with few modifications.

After about a week of trying this out every day I'm pretty happy with the results. I am finding the recommendations are getting a little redundant within a requested type of workout. If I ask for a "Recovery" oriented workout it's been a pretty similar set of exercises each time. I am going to be experimenting with ways to add more variety but with more hints in my requests about what I do or don't want, that should improve.

I won't be using this for my workouts every day moving forward, but I will keep this method in the mix, especially when I just want to get a solid workout started without having to put too much thought into it.

You do need a Chat GPT Pro subscription to generate Custom GPTs, but if you have that, give it a try.