There are some amazing perks of being a personal trainer, and as an independent contractor, I have the flexibility to work whenever I want. I am trying to help as many people as I can, and I am very ambitious so I have given myself a busy schedule at work. This is great because I get to meet so many incredible people, and I am getting a ton of experience working this much. The only draw back is that with so many hours spent working to help others achieve their fitness goals, mine are at risk of taking a spot on the back burner.
Maintaining my own fitness and continuing to pursue goals in the gym is really important to me, so it is crucial that I find time in my busy schedule to get in my workouts. This isn't always easy. I do not have a car right now so I am at the mercy of the (excellent) bus system here. On a sunny day, this is no issue. I know I can count on the busses to be on time. Winter is less predictable, so I found myself stressing about giving myself enough of a cushion around my workouts to account for the potential delays. Nevertheless, I have still been able to maintain a pretty good workout routine over the winter so I thought I'd share with all of you my workout routine and some of the ways I worked around my busy schedule to make sure my fitness was taken care of as well as my client's!
My Workout Split
For those of you who don't know, a workout split is just how you split up your workouts throughout the week. There's all kinds of ways to do this, but I like to split up my week into various muscle groups and goals.
Monday is squat day where I focus on progressing my squat either by squatting more weight, or improving my squat depth.
Tuesday is back day. I like to use this day to improve my posture and work on my pull ups. I think it is really important to be able to pull your own bodyweight up, so every week I devote time to training my body to do this well. A lot of my posture issues come from having rounded shoulders, and an anterior tilt in my pelvis. So I try to strengthen the muscles that will pull my shoulder back out of that rounded shape, and balance out the musculature in my hips so that I don't end up with back pain.
Wednesday is rest day. It is my longest day at work and so I took the pressure off of myself to try and get in a proper workout.
Thursday is deadlift day. It is the day that I start work a little bit later and so I can spend a little more time at the gym giving myself proper rest times between working sets. I also have more time to eat afterwards, meaning I can properly refuel after my deadlift workout.
This is my most exhausting workout as the deadlift is incredibly technical and my deadlift is my strongest lift, so I am pushing the most amount of weight.
Friday used to be my plyo/HIIT day. As my work schedule got busier, and I took on a few clients outside of work, I found that I was way too tired to get myself to the gym on Friday evenings. So I switched it!
Saturday is now my plyo/HIIT day. I also like to work on correcting aspects of my fitness on Saturdays. For a while I found that I was really weak coming up out of a squat. So on Saturdays I trained the concentric portion of the squat.
I now have pretty bad mobility so I spend some time working on my mobility on Saturdays as well. The gym I go to on Saturday mornings also plays really awesome music and everyone seems so energized and motivated on Saturday mornings so I have really been enjoying this change to my schedule!
Sunday is a day of rest. I usually take Sunday to work on my website, plan for the week, and relax.
Juggling work and Exercise
When I was living at home and had a car to get me to-and-from the gym it was really easy to get my morning workouts in. Now that I take the bus, it means waking up early, getting on a bus, fitting in my workout with the bus schedule, and then making the decision of whether or not I go home before work, or if I just go straight to work.
It has taken some time but I have settled on getting myself to the gym early enough that I can have a 1 - 2 hour workout (I rarely workout for a full 2 hours, but I like to have the option). I get up at 5 on weekdays and that gives me enough time get my things ready for the gym, meditate, and download a podcast for the bus ride. I do my workout and plan out a Plan A, B and C departure time and then get myself home. This way I can just bring my gym stuff to the gym and keep my time there focused on me getting in my workout. When I would bring my work stuff to the gym it meant that my focus was elsewhere. I also had to carry around a much bigger bag, which was just annoying so it's nice to go with less stuff.
When I get myself home I pack up my lunch, do last minute touch ups to the day's programs and then I am on my way.
This is an ideal day for me. Sometimes I wake up at 5 and feel like I haven't had a proper rest, or I just wake up feeling frustrated (hello annoying return of snow). So I put myself back to sleep and wake up with enough time to get myself to work early to workout. I am fortunate that I work at a gym and have this option, and I recognize that isn't always the case for everyone. This is not my favourite option, if I am being honest. When I workout at work, I blur the lines between my time and my work time. I have to be both when I workout at work and that usually results in a sub-par workout. But at least I am getting in my workouts, right?
It is always better to get in those main lifts, and make sure you stay on track with goals, instead of sacrificing workouts for other things. One "maybe tomorrow" turns into many and then you haven't been to the gym in weeks and you have missed out on so many potential gains in the gym!
Quick Tips to Stay on Track with a Busy Schedule
My workout schedule isn't the same every week, and I don't always get to fit in a full workout like I would like to, but I have come up with a few tricks to make sure my fitness and goals do not suffer during the busiest of weeks!
1. Have a plan A, B, and C. If you can't workout at the normal time, pick another time where you can get in your workout. Even if it has to be condensed, there will always been 20 minutes to 1 hour in your day where you can fit it in. You may just have to adjust it a little bit.
2. Make sure your main goals are clear and attainable every week. I want to progress my squat, deadlift and pull up, so every week I need to work on those. That is my bare-minimum workout schedule for the week. As long as I can get in my squat, deadlift, and pull ups, I am still progressing towards my goals.
3. Don't spread yourself too thin. This is one that I have to continuously check in on. If you are actually having a crazy week and you are so exhausted from work that you cannot make a workout that day, don't worry about it. There have been weeks where I have taken multiple days off. I still squat, deadlift, and do my pull ups at some point in the week - sometimes all in the same day - but if I have a crazy day and I try to do a workout on top of that, the workout usually suffers. That isn't worth trying to make it squeeze into a busy day.
4. Do something good for your body every day. If things get crazy and you have to move things around like I mentioned in tip #3, then just try and do a few things that day that are good for you. If I decide I can't get my workout in that day, then I try to meditate before bed, or I walk home instead of taking the bus. It is all about keeping yourself moving and making good choices that will improve your health in the long run.
Life gets crazy sometimes but your personal health and well being should always be a priority. I have had to make some changes to my own schedule in the last few months and it isn't always easy, but my health is the #1 priority in my life so I adapt. Taking the time to adapt is the best thing you can do for your body when life gets busy, instead of just letting the hustle and bustle of life take over your life.
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.