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A Fitness Guide for People With No Free Time (And Who Drink Too Much)

The first installment of our new series—The Normal Person’s Workout

Don’t have three hours a day to spend at the gym? Not interested in bulging like a bodybuilder? Unmoved by promises of “fat-blasting, ab-chiseling monster workouts?” This is the column for you, fellow regular human with very little free time.

The Man

Andrew, Los Angeles
Height: 5’6”
Weight: 138 pounds
Goal: More strength and flexibility

His Time Commitment (Or Lack Thereof): “I wake up at 7:30 a.m. and commute an hour into the office, working from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with no more than 30 minutes for lunch,” Andrew says. “I get home around 8, eat dinner and am in bed by 10. On weekends, I drink what some would consider excessively, but depending on my night, I’m usually awake by 8:30 the next morning. All told, I think I could probably fit in two to three hours of exercise per week if I tried.”

Exercises He’s Actually Willing to Do: “I’d be happy if I could just get some cardio or something in for 30 minutes a day,” he says. “I don’t want to lift weights or do things that will bulk me up. On a related note, I hate gyms — exercising indoors makes me feel claustrophobic, though I do love a good sauna. I don’t mind running if it’s outside, rather than on a treadmill, and I’ll try to surf at least once a week for a few hours. I generally eat pretty healthily so that I don’t have to work out to stay slim.”

What He Wants: “Goal-wise, I guess every guy’s goal is a six-pack, right? Some extra strength would be cool, too. And honestly, if I could touch my toes even once in my life, I’d throw a party.”

The Plan

Stop Sleeping So Much: “Your work schedule and drinking habits have you tired and depressed,” explains personal trainer Lalo Fuentes. “If you go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 7:30 a.m., that means we can push the alarm clock to 6:00 a.m., since you only need eight hours of sleep, not nine and a half.”

How to Productively Fill That Extra 90 Minutes: “Start by cooking a healthy breakfast,” Fuentes says. “Why not even make a healthy lunch to take to work while you’re at it? Challenge yourself by coming up with different breakfast options every time, or at least every week. Try one of these three breakfasts, or mix and match as you prefer — either way, they’ll jumpstart your metabolism”:

Breakfast 1: Full Spread
Three soft-boiled eggs
Half an avocado
A slice of whole-grain toast
Bowl of oatmeal with berries

Breakfast 2: Shake
One cup of raw oatmeal
Half cup of frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon of Maca powder
1 scoop of chocolate protein of your choice
Almond milk (blend all ingredients together)

Breakfast 3: Egg scramble
Six eggs (one full and five egg whites)
Chopped spinach
Chopped basil
Kalamata olives (mix up all above ingredients in pan)
Feta cheese and chopped tomatoes on top

But Don’t Forget to Work Out First: Since Andrew likes the outdoors, Fuentes recommends the following:

  • Stretch
  • 15 jumping jacks
  • 20 squats
  • 12 pushups
  • 15 bicycles
  • 5-minute run (Start by running at 50 percent of your capacity and bring the speed up every two to three workouts by 5 percent until you’re able to run at 80 percent of your maximum capacity for five minutes straight)

“Doing this series three times with a 30–60 second rest in between each exercise should take you no more than 45 minutes max, and put you back home in time for breakfast,” says Fuentes.

He adds, “You can also change your ab exercises every day to add variety to your regimen. For example, you can replace the bicycles with a plank, where you get into a pushup position, resting your weight on your forearms and holding the position for one minute. Or you could do a variation of the plank where you touch your right knee to your left elbow and freeze for one minute, then alternate sides.”

And Do It More Than, Like, Once: “Do this workout five times per week and increase the number of sets and the speed of your runs after week three. Once you get stronger, you’ll be able to perform these exercises with less rest and more range of motion, so try increasing one circuit per week until you can do five to six circuits per workout. It’s a perfect routine to get you started, and you’ll feel the boost of energy levels after two weeks.”

The Reaction

Andrew, Are You Really Going to Wake Up Early and Eat Oatmeal with Berries? “I sincerely do appreciate the advice on making myself an all-star breakfast every morning, but I’ve been junior varsity my whole life and three soft-boiled eggs seems a bit much for me…”

Can You Stick to the Workout Plan At Least?: “The workout seems feasible. Apart from the 20 squats—I don’t know if I can manage that. Can I just pretend he said 15 to start with?”

Will You Try to Get Out of Bed Earlier?: “I will try! Honestly, though, I’d rather skip breakfast, stay in bed for an extra hour and grab a breakfast bar on the way to work.”

And One Quick Clarification: “I’m not depressed, as such, I’m just lazy. Really, really lazy.”