Walter Camp’s Daily Dozen workout routine is a series of exercises devised nearly one-hundred years ago to give you a ‘running jump-start to the serious work of the day!’
As an advisor to the United States military during World War One, Camp (along with many others) was shocked at the physical condition of the young men brought in for physical examination. He set about devising twelve simple exercises that would meet the following criteria:
Last no longer than eight or ten minutes once or twice per day.
Be simple to learn.
Eliminate exercises or movements that we perform daily anyway.
Be so simple to remember and complete that there becomes no excuse NOT to do them!
Make the exercises of equal use to EVERYBODY regardless of size, shape or level of fitness.
Not leave you so tired after doing them that you are too tired to do anything else!
Before we start I should tell you there are actually FIFTEEN exercises in the Daily Dozen! As it developed from a best-selling pamphlet/book to a best selling record set, Walter Camp made some changes to one of the sets. I'm including the extra set of exercises here (because they are worth doing!), but also keeping the other set (because they are worth doing too!).
I will also detail some variations, extra exercises and other little tips and tricks to make the Daily Dozen the COMPLETE exercise program it was always meant to be.
Please remember there is a SERIOUS difference between 'fit' for health purposes and 'fit' in the slang sense of the term. To be healthy does not require being 'ripped' or what magazines would consider 'hot', and a person can be more physically fit with less muscle tone than a person with 'insane' definition. That said, give the Daily Dozen just TWO WEEKS, then see for yourself what PROPER exercising can do for you.
What kind of exercises are they?
All of the exercises in the Daily Dozen are standing bodyweight exercises – what would have been referred to as 'calisthenics' at the time. You don't need any equipment or prior knowledge, and it is actually better if you can do it barefoot so as to aid with improvement to your balance and coordination (trainers can disrupt your balance because you are not actually 'rooted' to the ground).
There is NO jumping or moving around with this routine, instead all of the moves involve simply:
Squatting (bending the knees).
It is an ideal workout routine for people who want to exercise indoors, but do not have a lot of space, or do not want to make a lot of noise!
Will these exercises make me fit?
The Daily Dozen series of exercises focuses on improving three things:
They also have the added value of improving posture, coordination and muscle control.
While I would suggest you supplement these exercises with a brisk walk or some other cardio exercise, there is no doubt that these exercises, performed daily and with enthusiasm, will improve your fitness.
Before we start I will let Mr. Camp have the last word regarding the object of the Daily Dozen:
“…to make an efficient working machine of the man without useless effort, to increase that man’s resistive force against disease, to add to his suppleness and endurance, to give him poise and balance, and to develop coordination or control over his muscles. By doing this, his power to work will be augmented*, and at the same time any work that he does will be accomplished more readily and with less effort.” *added to and improved!
I have been involved in the fitness industry for over ten years, and old-fashioned language aside (including the lack of women in his terminology), that is STILL the best explanation of WHY it is good to have a CERTAIN LEVEL of fitness. Walter Camp laughed at people who built muscles that they had no need of, or made their bodies do things they would never have any practical use for. While we don’t need to go that far (I don't see the need to laugh at anyone!), we DO need to ignore a lot of what we are told about what we MUST do to be adequately fit.
How do I use this book?
This is perhaps the most important question. The first thing I would suggest is that you read the book all of the way through, taking a good look at the pictures. After doing this, ask yourself if it is something you actually WANT to do. If it is (and I hope it is!) then I would start by only doing the FIRST exercise, then adding an exercise every day until you are doing all twelve/fifteen. This gives you time every day to get to grips with the new exercise, while getting all of the benefits of the previous ones.
Now, get ready for the grand-daddy of daily workouts: Walter Camp’s Daily Dozen…