Most everyone reading this works for a living. A select few individuals get by without employment. These individuals may include those attending school, those staying home with family members or those who can afford to do nothing. This article is not for those individuals.
This article is written for the working dogs among us. The one's who toil on a daily basis and still find the time to pump some iron, watch their diet and live a full life. As the popular beverage commercial goes - "This one's for you."
The demands of modern living force all of us to make choices. We can choose, for example, to do a cardio workout or lounge around, work out or stay home, take a nap or become sleep deprived. The choice is ours and we need to make good ones to both optimize our time and live life to the fullest.
I lived the 60-75-hour workweek for the first five months of 2005 and provide my thoughts on maintaining my physique, family life and mental health through it all. Keys to accomplishing this were prioritizing what was important and ensuring I took some time to care for my personal well being.
In this article I look back at my typical week, my priorities and important items for staying healthy. Part II will discuss some nutritional aspects and my tips on saving time.
The key to successfully juggling all the demands placed on you is prioritization. The competition for your time is fierce, and there will be activities that get shortchanged when work is the major activity of your life.
Let's start by breaking down the week:
- = 24 hours
- = 168 hours (7 days X 24 hours)
- = 60 hours
108 Hours Remaining
As shown, after putting the mandatory work hours in, all that is left is a mere 108 hours - a little over 4 full days. If you are working more than 60 hours, you have even fewer hours to get things done.
Are there options to lessen the work requirement? I kind of doubt it. Most of us need a good source of income to provide a roof over our head, food on the table and future security. Most of the time we are pretty much stuck with the hours we have to work and put up with the increase in work hours as our careers progress.
- After you understand that the amount of time you have is limited, you have to determine how the remainder is going to be spent. You can make a list either by day or by week with the activities that require your time. Here are the activities that I dealt with weekly:
I considered these mandatory activities; they had to be done.
- Like most people, I commute to work. I could save some time if I carpooled and slept coming and going, but I enjoy the option of driving alone.
Some of you may have public transportation as a viable option to save time.
If available, it is a factor to consider.
- Sleep is a mandatory activity for everyone; the amount varies for individuals. I get by with 7 hours per day, less on some days and more on others. The recommendation for 7-9 hours of sleep hasn't changed in many years. The important fact to remember is that you grow and recover when resting, not in the gym. Sleep is an activity you must make time for or your body will force you to do so, with possibly severe consequences.
The remaining items are niceties for some people, but essential for others. Time can be saved during all these activities and I'll discuss some of these timesavers in Part II. Additionally, most of these activities enable you to get your mind away from work and they can be mentally relaxing and refreshing.
- For hygiene, I need to shower, shave and take care of my appearance daily. For women, more time may need to be allotted. Corresponding takes time every day, and includes regular and electronic mail, bill paying and record keeping.
Eating & Preparing Food
- Consuming food takes time. You may prefer to "eat on the go," however, sitting down to eat improves digestion and is better for you. Additionally, if you have a family or significant other, it is good to eat together some time during the week.
Food prep should also be considered as an independent activity. It includes food preparation, mixing and measuring and shopping. If you are bodybuilding and dieting, you'll want to spend some time preparing your food. Some of you may be lucky to have a spouse who will do some of this preparation; I prefer to do it myself.
- When totaled, these mandatory activities add up to 76 hours. Going back to the weekly breakdown of having 108 hours of non-work time, I was left with 32 hours.
Most of the time I was working 72 hours per week so the discretionary time really got cut to 20 hours. If you are married, have a significant other or have children, many of those 20 hours will be taken by those folks important in your life.
Homework, sports, clubs, dates, sex, concerts and appointments are activities that will affect your schedule.
Your involvement with others will leave you with a small amount of time to call your own. For your mental health, you do need to partake in activities outside of work. Some will involve your significant others and some need to be activities you enjoy on your own. A meal out with the family can be as important as time spent quietly reading the newspaper or surfing the internet.
You probably noted that training isn't on my mandatory activity list. Sorry to say, but at this point in my life, it isn't a mandatory activity. If I get to the gym, great. If I'm forced to miss a day or two, so be it. I am not a professional bodybuilder, don't make a living in the health industry, and I have a family to take care of. My priority will always sway toward them.
Although working out isn't on my mandatory activity list, it is high on my list of discretionary activities that I take the time to enjoy. Based on the hours available, I could only afford 3-4 hours out of the week on training. Even with the limited amount of available time, I still wanted to get bigger and stronger. And, a training session is great for mental health.
For many, this limited amount of time doesn't seem like much, but this amount of time provided me enough opportunity to stimulate growth, remain healthy and stay mentally sharp. And based on having only 20 hours available, training represented roughly 20% of that time (a rather significant investment).
- Did my training need to change? - Yes. With the amount of energy I expend at work and my limited recovery time, I needed a workout that was quick and efficient. I knew that I had to combine some muscle groups since I didn't have the luxury of training just one or two muscle groups per workout. With a maximum of 3-or-4 workouts per week, I had to decide on a two, three or 4-way split of bodyparts.
Intensity level is another factor to consider. If you are looking to gain size and strength, a training regimen with high intensity levels is required. However, if you are burnt out from a long day at work, this may not be practical. Or, if your priority is to only stay toned, lower intensity may be an option. Your lifting experience will also dictate the level of intensity that you can use.
Your training regimen can be as simple as bench, squat and deadlift with an assist exercise for arms and calves. Other training regimes that work well and can be time savers are High Intensity Training, Yates-style training, Max-OT< or doggcrapp (DC) training.