If you’re a white collar worker you probably don’t have a ton of time or mental energy to put into your workouts.
Your work day probably consists of plowing through emails, sitting in meetings that are always longer than they need to be, and playing your daily share of corporate politics.
Whether you hit the gym before work, during lunch, or after work, you always feel pressed for time, and your mind probably wanders back to work stuff during your workouts. You need efficiency, but most importantly you need workouts that leave you with more than what they take out of you.
If you’re serious about making gains and progress, then you’ll want to incorporate these exercise hacks to make the most of the limited time and mental energy you may have.
Here are my favorite exercise hacks when you’re limited on time, energy, or resources:
- German Volume Training – I love lifting, but sometimes I don’t have the energy to train for an hour and a half hitting a dozen different exercises. So on the days I’m not feeling up to a long workout, I do german volume training instead. It’s really simple. What you do is 10 sets of 8-10 reps of a particular major lift. For example, if it were leg day I would pick my most important lift and do 10 sets of 10 reps of squats with the heaviest weight I can use with good form for all 10 sets. The goal is to keep rest periods down to 60 seconds. This style of training can actually be utilized every week, with the intention of increasing the weight lifted a little bit each week.
- Giant Sets – If I’m pressed on time, I’ll sometimes combine my major lifts into one giant superset. For example, I will do 5 reps of each back to back: barbell squats, barbell bench press, barbell deadlift, barbell shoulder press and barbell bent over rows. I’ll rest for 2-3 minutes between sets and then repeat for 5 rounds total. This is great for increasing the body’s natural production of growth factors like growth hormone and testosterone.
- Blood Flow Restriction Training – BFR training is a methodology that is backed by over 200 studies and 25 years of research which involves wearing straps around the upper arms or upper legs, using super light weight (or just body weight), and doing high reps and sets. The effects are incredible. The research has found that it accomplishes similar results to training with heavy weight – without the same stress on your body or brain. The way to perform this is to wear elastic bands around the upper arms or upper legs and tighten them to a perceived tightness of a 5-7 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being tightest). And then perform an exercise like push ups for 30 reps, rest 15 seconds, do 15 push ups, rest 15 seconds, do 15 push ups, rest 15 seconds, and do 15 more push ups.
- Incline Treadmill Walking – If you’re not a runner, incline walking on the treadmill can be a great exercise not just for your body but also your mind. I believe that most gym rats tend to over train, so use your cardio time to get in some intentional recovery too. Lower intensity cardio not only burns calories but it can help you clear your mind which helps activate more of the “rest and relax” side of your nervous system (aka brain) instead of just “fight or flight” which is chronically overstimulated. You can also bolt-on the BFR Bands to this routine by wearing them on your upper thighs while walking. It will amplify the effects of your cardio, “tricking” your brain into thinking you’ve been running and activating fast-twitch muscle fibers (the ones that have the great propensity for growth and muscle definition, and are usually only activated during sprinting or heavy lifts).
Give these simple hacks a try and I’m certain you’ll be surprised by the progress you’ll make.