30 Sep How To Train Around A 9 To 5 Office Job
I remember when I was working as a personal trainer on the gym floor for 12 to 14 hours a day, it’d be so easy to fit in your training, cardio and step goals. There’d always be small gaps in your day where you can fit a workout in, and due to the nature of the job, energy expenditure is high as you’re on your feet all day long.
Back then, I’d clock 10-15,000 steps without even thinking about it. But now that my work is all online behind a laptop, it’s a lot different. If I’m not careful, a day can go by without even reaching 1,000 steps. Which means without changing my calorie intake, I can go from a regular deficit to either a very small deficit, maintenance, or even a slight surplus. All because of my activity levels.
Luckily, I govern my own schedule, so I can adjust it accordingly to reach various activity goals. But I realise not everyone has this luxury, and this can make things a little trickier on the face of it. Instead of writing my own best tips on working around an office job, I’m going to take inspiration from a thread that was posted up in our private Facebook group, where one of our RNT clients asked the following:
Does anybody have an office job and follow a structured morning routine daily? How do you fit in the steps and gym workouts?
The answers were given by a number of clients of all different backgrounds, professions and even locations in the world (UK, Australia, USA and India were covered). Despite this, there were some consistent themes that kept cropping up, which I’d like to dive into here.
- Maximise Your Morning
This was the most common answer, and for good reason. If you work an office job where your hours aren’t always in your control, you need to dominate your mornings.
It’ll allow you to put a real dent into your step target, and if you’re training on that day, get the workout done before life/work gets in the way.
There’s a fair few members of the 4am club in our RNT client group, and while it isn’t always necessary, if your work/life means you can’t do it in the day, then it’s a club you’ve got to be a part of to achieve your goals!
Whatever time you do wake up, by getting a lot done in the morning, you’re setting yourself up for success. Psychologically, this will carry a positive mindset into the day as you continue ticking the boxes required in all aspects of life.
- Build It Into Your Commute
If you work an office job, chances are you’ll have some level of commute, which can make reaching your step goal so much easier. For many clients, a real game changer can be to get off at an earlier bus/train stop and walk the rest of the journey.
Alternatively, I know of some clients who create new rules for themselves, such as a ‘no bus rule’, or ‘no cars for anything 30 minutes walking distance’, and these can make a big difference in the long run.
- Maximise Your Time At Work
Working in an office can make building activity into your day relatively simple. Something many of our clients do is implement strategies such as walking meetings, taking calls when on the go / walking around, and creating regular 5-10 minute breaks in their day to go for a mini walk. Also, encouraging the use stairs over lifts not only on your commute, but in the office building works well. While it may not seem like much, when you add all of this up over the course of the day, you’ll find yourself achieving an extra 2-5,000 steps just like that. On top of this, adding a lunchtime walk into the mix for 20-60 minutes (depending) can be the icing on the top.
- Schedule Everything
I always talk of how the benefits of a physical transformation transcend far beyond the physical. When I reflect on my own bodybuilding competition preps, arguably the most transferrable skill that I improved upon was scheduling my day to get everything done. Especially the most recent one, where for a period of 6 weeks I was training 6 days a week, doing 60 minutes of cardio daily, walking 20,000 steps a day, all while in the first 2-3 months of launching this business!
I remember planning everything to the minute everyday, as I just couldn’t afford to waste time. I had to ruthlessly audit my days, schedule all aspects of my life into my diary and then execute. Even now, I still do this, but more from a perspective of trying to growing the business (as my main priority), while balancing staying in shape and still seeing my family and friends as much as I’d like to.
The counter argument I hear is that in corporate offices in the City, it’s impossible to predict your days. Having worked with many clients in this situation, my first answer would be to just control as much as you can. When you think about it this way, you’ll be surprised just how much of your day you can plan. Starting with point one of this article, your morning!
- Make It Your Non-Negotiable
Everyone should live by rules, and have ‘non-negotiables’ in their diary. One of mine is to strength train 3-4 days a week, no matter what. Even during the busiest and stressful of times, I’ll still make this happen. It’s a non-negotiable for myself, so it goes in the diary on repeat every week.
If you take the same attitude to your own training and steps, and turn it into a non-negotiable, you’ll be surprised how you won’t need external motivation to drive you to do it.
Time is never the issue, it’s usually a question of addressing and aligning your priorities. If time is a constant excuse you’re giving yourself, it’s likely you haven’t made it a big enough priority for yourself. If this is the case, I’d highly recommend reading the article on HILPs, and go through the exercise of linking a lower priority (i.e. training), with how it’d benefit your number one priority (i.e. your work), and see the shift in your perspective.
What About If You Work From Home?
Again, it comes down to framing your priorities. I’ve now worked from home for 18 months and have been through phases of dieting extremely hard, and being in more ‘relaxed’ muscle building periods.
In the dieting period, it can be a little inconvenient because you need to get up and go every time you want to increase your activity level, instead of building it into your day (with the commute, etc.). So here’s what I do when I need to hit big step targets:
- Start the day with LISS
- Walk to and from the gym
- Do all calls either walking around the house, in the garden, or ideally outside.
- Go for a walk at the end of the day after finishing all my work
Adopting these rules could easily give me in the region of 12-20,000 steps depending.
What About the Weekends?
After following routine from Monday to Friday, it can be difficult on the weekends to maintain your typical structure.
When I review check ins and assess step targets achieved, I usually see a drop off in steps early on in the process when routine hasn’t quite kicked in, and the benefits of maintaining activity across 7 days aren’t seen yet. Especially if you’re having a quiet or lazy day.
On these days, get yourself out of the house first thing for a walk, plan for at least one of your gym sessions to fall on the weekend, and then tie in activity with your social activities. Whether that be going for walks with your family, building steps into your ‘commute’ when seeing friends, and not relying on public transport.
Reframing Your Mind
When I write these articles, I aim to mix some of my own personal experiences with a lot of our clients’ experiences. Most of this advice has come from clients who live extremely busy lives where they need to balance their physique goals with family, business/work and their social lives.
In all conversations with these clients, a common piece of advice is the need to reframe your perspective. Start creating links between how training and being more active can have positive impacts on what’s most important to you, whether it be your work, your family and most likely, a mix of both.
View it as a positive, and watch how your actions in day to day life change to facilitate achieving your goals.