It can be challenging to find the time to exercise given competing work and life commitments. When we do schedule the time, it’s important that we make the most of that time with good quality exercise.
For any office workers that are thinking of starting at a gym or considering going back after a break, I’m going to share my current workout routine in this blog. It took me a while to find a routine that I felt was giving me a good overall workout given the limited amount of time I could dedicate to it. I’m 6 weeks into the programme so far and am really starting to see some results. I think this is a great option if you’re looking for an exercise programme and have limited time at the gym each week like I do.
I have given myself three 45 minute slots each week to go to the gym: before work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Of course in an ideal situation I’d like to be going a little more often but it’s not realistic right now, so that’s why my goal when I’m working out is to maximise my time by pushing myself hard for the 3 x 45 minute sessions.
With that in mind I’ve developed a resistance training programme that gives me a full body workout each day. Almost all the exercises in my workout routine are compound exercises. This means I’m exercising more than one muscle with each exercise. If I had more time then sure I could concentrate on muscle groups in isolation (i.e. Monday is leg day, Tuesday is arms etc). Given that I only have three sessions a week, these compound exercises allow me to train primary and secondary muscles simultaneously which gives me a decent full body workout with just a few exercises each day.
Ok let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the workout routine. Make sure you stretch thoroughly before and after each session. I’ve included primary and secondary muscles exercised in brackets:
Wide Arm Pull ups (back, biceps, lats)
Flat Bench Press (chest, shoulders, triceps)
Squats (most of lower body)
Military press (shoulders, triceps)
Sit ups (core, lower abs)
Bent over row (middle back, lats, shoulders, biceps)
Dips (triceps, chest, shoulders)
Leg Press (quads, most of lower body, lower back)
Pullovers (back, chest)
Under Arm Chin ups (back, biceps, lats)
Incline Bench Press (chest, shoulders, triceps)
Deadlift (most of lower body)
Upright row (shoulders, neck, back)
First things first, consult your doctor before attending a gym. Most gyms will offer you a session with a personal trainer as part of the signing on fee. Use this session to understand how all the equipment works and to practice the proper form for executing the above routine if you want to give it a try. If it’s your first time in a gym then ask the trainer for a simple routine to start with. You can google the exercises above to see how they are performed but do not attempt any of these exercises unless you know what you are doing!
You should be completing 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise and either 4 or 5 sets i.e. complete 12 squats, take a break then repeat 3 or 4 more times. It depends on the individual as to what weight to use however to push yourself, it should be a real challenge to complete 8 to 12 repetitions, especially during the final set. If you’re finding it too easy, then more than likely you are not giving your muscles a good workout.
Try and increase the amount of weight you’re lifting gradually each week. If you are beginning to find an exercise is too easy to complete then it’s time to increase the weight. Ask the gym staff to spot you if you are lifting a particularly heavy weight. If you can, bring a buddy along to the gym with you. We really do push ourselves that little bit more if we are working out with a partner.
Bring water to the gym with you and drink this constantly throughout your workout, it’s really important to stay hydrated. Make sure to eat well before and after you exercise. Ideally, you should be consuming protein immediately after working out to aid muscle recovery and to increase the amount of lean muscle in your body. I’m a big fan of whey protein and will always have a shake straight after a workout, I’ll talk about this in more detail in another blog.
It’s important to take at least one full days rest in between each workout. Sometimes my schedule changes for whatever reason but I can usually catch up on a gym session at the weekend if needed. Your body gets used to the same exercises over time so that’s why it’s necessary to change your routine every 8 weeks. Even variations of the exercises above can work different elements of each muscle so consider this when reviewing your routine.
You don’t need to follow my routine, you don’t even have to join a gym. If you take anything from this post then it should be to set time aside every week to dedicate to exercise, whatever that may be. Then most importantly of all, stick with it! The best feeling I get from exercising is seeing the gradual improvements over time. You won’t become fit and healthy overnight and the vast majority of people will never ever have a six pack. That’s not important. What is important, and what regular exercise supports, is leading a healthy lifestyle and feeling positive about yourself both physically and mentally.
Create a training programme and stick with it. I promise you will reap the rewards.