Quick Workouts For the Busy Executive

I’ve often told clients that they have to make time for exercise rather than trying to find time for exercise. Some may have rolled their eyes at this statement, but more often than not, I ran into clients who understood exactly what I was saying. You could say that these clients were cut from a different cloth; their determination and focus had led to success in the gym as well as outside the training floor.

That’s because these clients were a select few: vice-presidents, doctors, lawyers, and executives. Before you get the wrong idea, I’m not suggesting that these clients are better human beings than all of us because of their career position. Rather, these clients are in the service industry and they spend a huge chunk of their day making major decisions that affect a lot of people. They have high-end clients to take care of. They have a business to run. They have an office staff that they have to make sure are treated well and compensated for their efforts. They have a family to take care of. In other words, 99% of their time is spent making sure that other people are taken care of.

Having to deal with people all day and meet their needs can be a drain. That’s why these clients love training hard and seeing results – they have to maintain their bodies for the vigorous work ahead. This demanding schedule also leaves little time to work out. Clients with hectic schedules are always asking for quick – but effective – workouts. For those interested in changing their physique on a limited schedule, I have the perfect recommendation. It’s called ratchet loading.

Ratchet loading will basically require a 25 minute time commitment. It’s short and sweet but brutal enough to make you mutter curse words you never thought you would say. In ratchet loading you pick two different sets of reps and complete them over 6 sets. As a disclaimer, it won’t get you to be the strongest human walking the face of the earth, nor the biggest. But it will give you a little bit of both, and in your tightly packed schedule that means a lot.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pick a compound movement like the deadlift. Compound movements require more than one joint to be involved in the move. So leg extensions don’t make the cut, while squats should be at the top of your list.
  • If you know your one rep max (1RM), then you’re going to need loads between 75 and 85% of your 1RM. If you don’t, then think in terms of a mildly heavy weight, moderately heavy weight, and a heavy weight.
  • Here’s the breakdown of your sets for someone concerned primarily with strength:
Set 1 – 3 reps at 75%, rest 90 minutesSet 4- 5 reps at 75%, rest 2 minutes
Set 2 – 3 reps at 80%, rest 2 minutesSet 4- 5 reps at 80%, rest 2:30 minutes
Set 3 – 3 reps at 85%, rest 2:30 minutesSet 5 – 5 reps at 85%

 

  • Conversely, a breakdown for someone who primarily wants to build muscle:
Set 1 – 6 reps at 70%, rest 90 minutesSet 4- 8 reps at 70%, rest 2 minutes
Set 2 – 6 reps at 75%, rest 2 minutesSet 4- 8 reps at 75%, rest 2:30 minutes
Set 3 – 6 reps at 80%, rest 2:30 minutesSet 5 – 8 reps at 80%

 

Notice a pattern? You’re simply performing more repetitions after initially fatiguing your muscle fibers with the first few sets. With only 6 sets of hard work, you’re able to roast your muscle fibers out for growth and/or strength gains. Ratchet loading isn’t the best program ever, but it’s definitely the preeminent workout for those short on time but serious on training.

Ratchet loading follows the premise of stimulate, don’t annihilate. This translates to the fact that you’ll provide your body with the stimulus needed to get stronger – or bigger – without totally frying out your body for the next few days. This is important when you have to spend the rest of your week in a court room listening to testimony after testimony while wondering when you might get a chance to eat a sandwich.

Lastly, this type of training works well with a fluctuating schedule. If you’re short on time, then knock out your six sets and call it a day. If you have a bit of extra time, you can perform some supplementary work to compliment your compound lift. For example, if you bench pressed that day, you could follow up with three sets of chin ups and three sets of biceps curls. Having this flexibility with your training helps reduce anxiety and keep your motivation high.

Six sets may not seem like much, but one squat workout will change your mind pretty quick. Just because a workout is long doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s effective or appropriate. Would you rather have an employee who gives you their best work part time, or a worker who drains the clock on a full time scale?

 

Originally written: July 28, 2014

 

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