We get it: fitness is hard. And often boring. And gyms are full of terrible people.
But even if you don’t set foot in a gym, there are still quick, simple and occasionally odd ways to get some exercise throughout the average work day. A minute here, a minute there, and you’ll be fit in no time.
To accomplish our fitness hacking, we went to Tom Holland, the dude who Nautilus consults for their Bowflex products and programming. He’s also the Chief Fitness Officer for iTunes cardio app Motion Traxx and a well-known personal trainer, fitness writer, exercise physiologist and certified sports nutritionist. He helped coach us on simple (and occasionally loco) ways to boost burn and bulk muscle from 5 a.m. until midnight.
Will you do all of these every day? Probably not. Can incorporating some of these into your life provide long-term results? Absolutely.
5 a.m. Drop out of bed, go right to the floor and bang out a set of pushups. Start your day with it. Don’t get coffee. And go until failure. That might be eight, it might be one, it might be 50. It’s a great way to start your day with a little jolt of energy.
6 a.m. Protein for breakfast, since it’ll build muscle. All the clichés about breakfast being so important are true — so long as they have protein, which will help with satiety. If you’re busy, a protein shake is good, but ideally pair your protein with a carb to give you energy. Egg whites are the holy grail. If you’re running to the coffee shop, grab eggs on toast. Tip: whey is better for muscle, but also don’t overthink the type of protein; just get it in. If you truly want to build muscle, consume half your body weight in grams of protein (just don’t eat more than 40 grams in any one sitting).
7 a.m. Calf raises on the subway/bus during your commute. You’d be surprised how few people notice.
8 a.m. Sitting at your desk once you get to work, do mini crunches by either leaning back and contracting up (if you’re in a bullpen) or by doing extended leg lifts (if you’ve got a private office). A couple sets or 30-60 seconds of crunches and you’re done.
9 a.m. When you walk down the hallway or to the water cooler, do lunges (if it’s empty or you just don’t give a f*ck). Ten strides are enough to feel the burn.
10 a.m. Eat again. If you ate at six or seven, three hours later you want to take in something else. Suggestions: a protein bar, peanut butter on a banana, or a handful of almonds. Don’t wait until lunch. This will also help you get in enough protein throughout the day (most people don’t). Plus, spreading out your food intake doesn’t have harsh effects on your body.
11 a.m. Go into your stairwell and do a couple of runs (you don’t have to get sweaty). If you’re in an office where you can close the door, run in place, alternating with burpees and jumping jacks.
12 p.m. Going to the bathroom, use a handicap stall and do triceps dips. Guys who want great looking arms: this is the way … plus, you’re probably in that bathroom a couple times a day already.
1 p.m. More protein ... and really eat. Too many times people wait to eat, and then the wheels fall off at night. Holland suggests a salad with some protein on top (steak, chicken, fish, tofu).
2 p.m. Close your office door and take a nap. “I say to Siri, wake me up in 20 minutes,” says Holland. Studies say naps are huge for muscle recovery, and we already know sleep and rest are a huge part of the whole muscle-building process.
3 p.m. Another set of pushups. Alternate every other day with a plank or squats (any strength move, really).
4 p.m. Take a minute to stop and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and totally zone out. It’s the end of your potentially stressful day, so meditate for a minute and suppress the hormones that could lead to bad decisions after clocking out.
5 p.m. Taking the elevator down, get in a set of wall sits. The door opens, you can decide if you want to stand or can handle the burn (and suffer mild embarrassment).
6 p.m. Cocktail hour! Work hard, play hard. Start with a bottle of water or glass of seltzer to fill you up so you don’t over indulge. Red wine is good for you, and alcohol can be a stress reducer.
7 p.m. You’re getting sleepy .... Get in your final cardio workout (Holland would suggest the Bowflex Max, natch) or a piece of equipment at home. And keep it quick. Shorter workouts are the way of the future. A quick five- to 15-minute workout (even jumping rope) will make you eat less and make better choices.
8 p.m. The final hour to really get in that protein. Mix up a protein shake after a good dinner. Having protein before bedtime will help with rebuilding muscle and overnight assimilations.
9 p.m. Watching TV, during just one commercial break, do crunches and/or stretches. “I say, don’t waste your time doing abs at the gym,” Holland says. A quick, time-based abdominal routine like 30-seconds of plank or Supermans will be sufficient.
10 p.m. Put your clothes out for tomorrow. It’s essential to have everything ready to go so there’s no thought that needs to happen other than get out of the door in the morning.
11 p.m. Lying in bed, visualize your goals and positive meditations for 1-3 minutes. These can be personal or professional. Also think back on the day and recount how many of the tips you used. Be proud and ready to improve the following day.
12 a.m. Avoid screens, turn off notifications and unplug. If you use a tracker, shut off Bluetooth so you don’t receive notifications as vibrations on your wrist. Sleep is vital.
Repeat and dominate.