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The Workaholic's Workout

by StephenKelly

When your nine-to-five becomes eight-to-whenever, your workout can seem to be the easiest thing to sacrifice — but if you use long hours as an excuse for skipping your routine, you're not seeing the bigger picture.

As work pressures increase, so does your stress level -- which can lead to mental health issues like anxiety, anger, depression and physical ailments like stomach problems, headaches, chest pains, high blood pressure and even a decreased sex drive. And don't get me started on the awful eating habits busy people develop.

But a hectic life doesn't have to be an unhealthy one. There's nothing better to break up stress than a good workout. Your goal is to stay focused and committed, and to make the best of what limited time you may have. Some guys can still find ways to squeeze in a gym visit, while others may have to get creative.

In the Gym
The secret is to develop a workout routine that can be done in an hour or less, three days a week. Select exercises that will hit all of the major muscle groups and try to spend as little time resting between sets as possible -- certainly no more than a minute.

Here's a sample workout. Most of these exercises can be done with free weights or machines:

  • Bench press
  • Flys
  • Seated row or lat pulldown
  • Shoulder press
  • Front or side shoulders
  • Bicep curls
  • Triceps kickback (free weight only)
  • Squats
  • Hamstring (machine)
  • Calf raise
  • Ab crunch

If you have the time, try to get at least 15 minutes of cardio in, twice a week. And if time's an issue, use your ingenuity. You don't need the gym to do cardio work: Use the stairs rather than the escalator, or take a brisk walk at lunch. Whatever you choose, make sure to take advantage of the weekend to get in the aerobic activity you may miss during the week.

On the Road
If you have a job that regularly sends you on the road for business, you know that travel time is where it's easiest to blow off working out and good nutrition, since your schedule is especially tight.

Most hotels have small health facilities with a smattering of weights and cardio machines, and you should find more than enough equipment to get in an effective workout. But some smaller, economy-style hotels don't have equipment. This is when you have to fall back on the old reliables: calisthenics and isometric exercises that can be done with no equipment at all. Push-ups, jumping jacks, ab crunches, squats and leg lunges are just a few effective exercises that can be done in the privacy of your room. Stretching will also help break up the tension of a busy day.

If you're on the road often, consider taking some equipment with you. I'm not talking about luggage filled with dumbbells. Jump ropes and resistance bands, easily storable in a suitcase or carry-on, offer short, high intensity workouts that can easily match your gym routine. (These are also good ideas for the guy who just likes to travel.)

In the Office
But what if you're a cubicle king? You guys have the biggest challenge of all. You will definitely need to bank away some gym time -- those tiny spaces don't offer much privacy, and a vigorous bout of jumping jacks in the middle of the day may be distracting to your coworkers. But even in the office, it's important to stretch or get away from the desk and walk around, if only to get the blood flowing into your extremities.

Even the cleanest of offices can be a cesspool of germs. All that circulated air can cause germs and viruses to run rampant. So it's important to drink plenty of water and keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at the ready. Another good idea" Have a "health drawer" in your desk where you can store vitamins and healthy snacks as an alternative to the temptation of the seemingly daily birthday celebrations that come complete with cake, cake and more cake.

Unfortunately, it's the nutritional part of healthy lifestyles that often gets hammered by a life on the go, and fast food or skipping meals can easily sneak into your routine. A good solution is to spend part of your weekend preparing healthy food that can be quickly put together during the week. Grilling chicken breasts, cutting up vegetables for salads or making a big pot of turkey chili over the weekend lets you whip up lunches at home quickly and easily during the week.

Working out and staying healthy while on the run can be a challenge. The important thing to remember is to use the time effectively. Make the most of your weekends and holidays by hitting the gym or going for outdoor activities like hiking, jogging, biking or skiing. The key is to do what you can, when you can.