A Busy Bodybuilder's Secrets to Find Time and Motivation for Training

How to Achieve Bodybuilding Gains with Limited Time

Bodybuilder
Bodybuilder. Robert Cianflone / Staff / Getty Images

A bodybuilding friend of mine has been very busy at his job and he has not been able to do as much as he wants to in the gym. Nor has he been able to get in all the meals that he needs to consume on schedule. Because of this, frustration has set in and he has been contemplating perhaps just dropping the whole program until things begin to normalize for him.

Busy Bodybuilders - Don't Stop!

I advised against taking a break from his training for the following reasons:

  1. Stopping to train would lower his metabolism which in turn would lower his energy levels and thus make him less productive at work.
  2. Though he cannot get in the gym as often, getting his workout in and following the diet as much as possible will prevent him from losing valuable muscle gains while making undesirable fat gains. This in turn prevents him from getting further depressed as he sees his body deteriorate.
  3. When he can start hitting the gym more often and following the meal schedule to the “T”, he will be in good shape and his body will respond very quickly to the more aggressive schedule. This is a very different scenario than the one he would have encountered if he would have stopped training and dieting altogether, as in this case, he would have needed to use at least a week to get his body conditioned for the weights again and it would have taken him an extra week, or maybe even two, to get rid of any body fat that he might have gained depending on how bad the diet was.

    Be Flexible, Be Consistent, Be Prepared

    In order to be successful in bodybuilding you need to have the right mindset. Bodybuilding is both a physical and extremely psychological endeavor. Of course, we all get frustrated when our schedules are affected by work, or any other life circumstance that may be thrown our way.

    Life is full of monkey wrenches in case you haven’t noticed and it does not make it easy for us to get our workouts and meals in. Therefore, we have to fight aggressively and plan ahead if we want to get our workouts and meals in.

    As bodybuilders we must keep our eyes on the ultimate goal, which is always more muscle mass with less body fat. In order to accomplish that one must be consistent with the training and diet. If for whatever reason the program that the bodybuilder has mapped out is too much of a time commitment at a certain period in life, then the solution is to modify the bodybuilding program to one that does fit the time schedule…be flexible.

    For instance, back in my engineering days there were periods when I had to work 60-70 hours a week, I modified my training to where I would hit the gym 5 days a week for 40-45 minutes of weight training. Since I had no time to do cardiovascular exercise, I would superset antagonistic muscles in order to get some sort of cardiovascular effect (refer to my abbreviated bodybuilding plan at the end of this article). That is all I could afford to do at the time. I always tried to get my training in before work, but if for some reason I would miss it in the morning, then I always had lunchtime to make it up or later in the evening after work.

    Worst case, there was always the weekend for makeup sessions. Regarding meals, I always brought in all of my meals with me pre-prepared and also enough Meal Replacement Powders for those times that I was really on the run.

    Some of you for whatever reason may not even be able to do more than three sessions a week. If this is the case, then no issue; make the most out of the time that you do have available to train. The key to making lasting bodybuilding gains at the end of the day is that you have a realistic plan that can be executed consistently, not trying to follow one that looks really good in paper but cannot be executed. You will get to where you want to go, it may just take a little bit longer depending on how much time you can dedicate to reaching your goals.

    The Mindset Secrets of the Successful Bodybuilder

    Having said that here is what the mindset of a successful bodybuilder looks like:

    1. The successful bodybuilder analyzes his/her time commitments and creates a bodybuilding plan that suits his/her situation.
    2. He/she prepares all meals in advance along with liquid meals in order to prevent missing meals.
    3. If the plan is affected for whatever reason, instead of being depressed about it and leaving it, a modification is made in order to continue execution. So for instance if a training session is missed, then it is performed on the following day. If a meal is missed, then it is consumed as soon as possible. If an unscheduled cheat meal is consumed, then the bodybuilder gets right back on the diet on the following meal instead of blowing the diet for the whole day, or week.

    In a nutshell, for any challenge that the bodybuilder faces, a solution is researched and executed in order to continue with the bodybuilding lifestyle. There is no room for frustration nor thoughts of dropping the bodybuilding plan in the mindset of a successful bodybuilder. Always think damage control, never “falling off the wagon”, so to speak, as once off, you run the risk of never getting back on.

    In my years involved in bodybuilding, I have noticed that this is the mindset of the most successful bodybuilders. Successful bodybuilders always look for solutions while the non-successful ones always look for excuses.

    The Busy Bodybuilder's Split Workout Routine

    Workout (A) – Chest/Back/Abs


    Triset #1:
    Incline Bench Press 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Wide Grip Pull-ups to Front 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Crunches 3 sets of 15-20 reps

    Triset #2:
    Chest Dips 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Close Grip Chins (Reverse Grip) 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Hanging Leg Raises 3 sets of 15-20 reps

    Triset #3:
    Incline Flyes 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Low Pulley Rows 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Bicycle Crunches 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps

    Workout (B) – Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps

    Triset #1:
    Upright Rows 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Triceps Pushdowns 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Incline Curls 3 sets of 10-12 reps

    Triset #2:
    Bent Over Laterals 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Concentration Curls 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 3 sets of 10-12 reps

    Triset #3:
    Lateral Raises 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Hammer Curls 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Overhead Dumbbell Triceps Extensions 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps

    Workout (C) – Thighs, Hamstrings, Calves

    Triset #1:
    Squats (Medium/Wide) * 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Lying Leg Curls 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Standing Calf Raises 3 sets of 12-15 reps

    Triset #2:
    Leg Press (Close Stance; feet and legs together) 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Standing Leg Curl 3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Calf Press 3 sets of 12-15 reps

    Triset #3:
    Leg Extensions 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Stiff Legged Dead-lifts or Lunges (Pressing with heels) 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps
    Seated Calf Raises 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps

    *Note: Perform squats with a medium stance and when you hit failure, then change to a wide stance and keep the reps coming until you hit failure again. If you suffer from back problems you can substitute for a leg press machine and use the same technique.

    Notes on Abbreviated Workout Schedules

    • Workout Frequency:
      This routine can be performed as little as 3 days a week and as much as 6 days. All you have to do is rotate workouts A, B, and C.

    • Rest in Between Tri-sets
      After each tri-set you can rest 1 minute to 90 seconds at the most. Keep up a fast pace. Also remember that there is no rest between the exercises in the tri-set. So for instance, you will go from Incline Bench Press to Wide Grip Pull-ups to Crunches and then rest 1 minute before starting again.