The internet is riddled with training and diet programs tailored for the gym rat. Intricate and time-consuming training programs and expensive eating plans that require special trips to the local specialty food store aren’t all that practical.
It can eventually lead you to believe that the results you’re after just aren’t all that realistic if you can’t fulfill those requirements.
If you aren’t a member of the “I post all my meals and personal records on Instagram” crowd and have real-life obligations that can be unpredictable at times then you are in the right place.
You may be the type who struggles just to get in steady workouts, healthy meals, and work in proper rest each week. You may have sporadic work schedules, extra family obligations, and major challenges when it comes to recovery.
Related: How To Meal Prep for your Busy Life
It’s time for the working man’s guide to finally get you on the right track to gains. A plan that is flexible, realistic, and practical. Let’s do the absolute best with what you have to get you the results you want.
This working man’s guide will cover the pitfalls, adjustments, and unforeseen circumstances of regular, everyday living. It doesn’t cater to the individual who has more than enough time to train, cook, and eat. You have a life outside the gym. You have obligations from work, family, and friends. You will need an extra set of tools to get you through those tougher times.
- Be flexible: Life will give you speed bumps, put up walls, and knock you off track. Make sure you enter into any program with an open mind and the ability and will to adjust and be flexible.
- Be ready: Don’t put any program or any part of a plan in stone. Be willing and ready to change something up on a moment’s notice. Too much strict planning will only frustrate you in the end.
- Have a back-up: When (not if) life does throw you that curve ball be sure to have something at the ready. Not only a plan B.
- Get your mind right: When you finally commit to a plan be sure that you have your mental game on point. Only look ahead and don’t look back. Make progress when you can, not when you want to.
- Believe: Believe you can make progress. Believe you will push forward. Believe you will accomplish your goal. Small steps add up over time and only you can decide to either press on or give up.
Below is the working man’s training plan. It’s designed to be flexible, have built-in fail safes, and is realistic and practical.
No cookie-cutter crap ripped from some professional bodybuilder’s routine and no unrealistic, marathon training sessions which will only lead you panting and crawling for the door.
Related: Think Less, Lift More
This plan has these requirements:
- Work a majority of body parts each session.
- Be somewhat short in duration.
- Easy to understand and execute without much clutter and wasted effort.
- Equipped with alternatives in case of anything from life gets in the way.
- Designed in a way to keep your interest and focus on progress.
During any normal week (yeah, I know those are rare) try training every other day. Train a day and then rest a day. You will have two different training days: One will be upper body and abs and the other will be lower body and cardio. So you will train upper body and abs, rest a day, train lower body and cardio, rest a day and then go right back to upper body and abs. Keep alternating upper/abs and lower/cardio days.
Choose a workout column. Columns A and B are traditional exercises found in most any gym. Column C is bodyweight exercises for when you are needing to train from home or on the road. Perform 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise. Feel free to adjust the rep schemes as you see fit. The key is to become consistent and not worry and agonize over details. Feel free to mix and match from each category (the first row is all chest exercises, the second back, third is shoulders, the fourth is triceps, the fifth is biceps and the last is abs).
Upper Body and Abs
|Column A||Column B||Column C|
|Flat or Incline Bench Barbell Press||Flat or Incline Bench Dumbbell Press||Floor or Feet Elevated Push Up|
|Barbell or Dumbbell Bent-Over Row||Barbell Deadlift||Inverted Row or Pull Up|
|Standing or Seated Barbell or Dumbbell Military Press||Barbell or Dumbbell Upright Row or Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise||Band Press or Pike Press|
|Cable Pressdown or Lying Barbell Extension||Close-Grip Bench Press||Parallel Bar Dip or Bench Dip|
|Barbell or Dumbbell Curl||Inclune Bench Dumbbell Curl or Spider Curl||Rever Grip Biceps Chin Up or Band Curl|
|Floor Crunch or Bicycle Crunch||3-Way Incline Board Sit Up||V-Up|
|Lying or Hanging Leg Raise||Scissor Kick||Knee Tuck|
Lower Body and Cardio
As with the upper body session above, choose a column workout or mix and match the exercises from each row.
|Column A||Column B||Column C|
|Barbell Back Squat||Leg Press/Sled||Rear Foot-Elevated Bulgarian Split Squat|
|Lying or Seated Leg curl||Barbell or Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift||Reverse Lunge|
|Loaded Walking Lunge||Explosive High Box Jump||Pistol Squat|
|Standing or Leg Press Calf Raise||Seated Calf Raise||Jump Rope or Single Leg Calf Raise|
|Barbell Front Squat||Loaded Side Lunge||Prisoner Squat|
|Sled Push and/or Pull (10 total rounds)||Steady State Cardio of Choice (20 min)||HIIT 1 min high intensity:1 minute low intensity (10 rounds)|
Of course the best laid plans will eventually come apart due to life events, injury, burnout or just downright lack of motivation. As stated before, roadblocks will go up, speed bumps will form and life will present to you some pretty crappy hands sometimes. Here are a few common errors and fixes to help you on your journey and keep you pressing forward.
What if I want to change the rep or set schemes of the workout?
By all means change away. Just be sure you are getting all of your sets in the time you have allotted for training. Add more sets, increase or decrease reps. You will eventually know your sweet spot.
How long should I rest between sets?
Normally, shoot for 1 minute of rest between sets, but smaller body parts such as shoulders, arms and calves may require less rest (30 seconds).
What if I want to add in my own favorite exercises?
Yes, go for it. As long as it fits into one of the training days go ahead and replace (don’t add to) one of the existing exercises.
I want to train more often. Can I do that?
Yes, just be sure to train no more than 2 consecutive days in a row before taking a rest day. You may feel like training more at times, but it will catch up to you.
I can only train twice per week. Is that enough?
Absolutely. Just be sure to include both training days each week. This will ensure you cover your entire body. If possible, perform some cardio on other days if time allows.