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I was just ask this question yesterday by a during a consult with a new client. I am asked this often, as if there is really some secret, Jedi training routine hidden in a vault in the back of our gym. “Oh, you want to get in REALLY good shape? Let me show you what we can do for you.” (I then proceed to escort the client to the back of the gym like a creepy video store owner)

It is a fair question, since I face many of the same challenges as many of our clients. Also, I am no longer a “yoked up” bodybuilder so regular folks can identify with me a little better. Living in the burbs with two active kids, choking traffic, fast approaching 40 (ouch) and a business to run can keep you hopping. Once a new client establishes that I have life not unlike their own and don’t just workout out all day everyday, they want to know my personal routine.

Guess what? It looks similar to the programs we design for other busy folks with like challenges.

Here is a basic outline of our prescription:

Strength Training– 3 full-body routines weekly performed on alternate days. Why full body and not split routines? Training your entire body in the same session gives you more bang for your buck in terms of time invested, calories burned and metabolic boost. You train three alternate days a week instead of 4 or 5 days a week. Additionally, studies support that the same weekly training volume spread out over three days produces MORE muscle gain then that same volume performed just once a week. Example: instead of doing 15 sets of chest on Monday, do 5 sets on three alternate days. Same weekly volume, better results!

Cardio– If your full-body weight training is performed in a circuit fashion, you don’t need much additional cardio training. We typically bunch exercises into super sets (2 exercises back to back) or into mini circuits (3 or 4 exercises in a row). A basic example looks like this:

A. Squat 3 x 6- lower body
B. Push-up 3 x 10- upper body
C. Pallof Press 3 x 12- core

This type of workout will keep your heart rate elevated, build muscle and save you tons of time. If you have more than 3 hours a week to exercise, add some high intensity cardio on your off days. This workout is typically referred to as interval training and looks something like this:

Warm-up- 5 minutes
Intervals- go hard for 60 seconds/ easy for 120 seconds- repeat 7 x (21 min)
Cool down- 5 minutes
Total workout time- 31 minutes

Lifestyle activities– I think this is grossly underestimated for health and weight control. Just get out and be active. Gotta take your son/daughter to soccer practice? Walk around the park while they practice. Go for a stroll with the better half. How about a leasuely bike ride on the weekend? While we may not chalk these activities up as structured exercise, they have profound long-term effects on your body fat and general well-being.

So what IS my weekly routine? Brace yourself….

M- Full-body Strength Training- heavy weights/low volume
T- Sprints or walk with the Mrs.(hand holding optional)
W- Full-body strength training- medium weights/ medium volume
TH- Sprints or walk around the soccer park
F- Full-body strength training- low weights/high volume/circuits
S- Rest or Active
S- Rest or Active

There you have it. An effective, time efficient routine for a busy dad. No secret vault or seedy backroom needed.

Rick Mayo