The Blog

'How-To' - The Busy Person's Guide to Muscle Building

Balancing training with a hectic lifestyle isn't easy, but it's a reality that most of us have to face. We're not professional athletes, so we can't be in the gym for multiple sessions every day. So, as a result, we have to make the best of what little time we've got.

Welcome to the world as we know it. Everyone wants to get pumped and toned, but no one ever actually has the time to do it.

The modern day man or woman isn't just expected to hold down a job and provide for a family. They are expected to do it all whilst walking around looking like a Men's or Women's Health cover model 52 weeks of the year.

Balancing training with a hectic lifestyle isn't easy, but it's a reality that most of us have to face. We're not professional athletes, so we can't be in the gym for multiple sessions every day. So, as a result, we have to make the best of what little time we've got.

The good news is, you don't need multiple sessions per day to get great results. In fact, you'll be surprised just how jacked you can get on just a few hours training each week.

We created a new series entitled "How-To" . These come both in blog and video form with the intention of showing or explaining to people in simple terms "How To" perform an exercise or set of exercises. Not ground-breaking but essential to keep people safe and effective when they are exercising

The trick is knowing how to utilise every minute to its full potential. When you're up against the clock, every minute counts - so we're going to design you a programme that delivers in as little time as possible.

Think you're too busy to build a physique to be proud of? Think again.

Here's how you're going to do it.

Step 1 - Weight training

For optimal physique enhancement, weight training is going to be the cornerstone of your training programme. To start with, we're going to be hitting three hard sessions per week - because that's plenty to build slabs of muscle without eating too much into your schedule.

When you get more advanced we can increase this to four sessions per week. But for now, you'll get great results on just the three.

Note that when we say three 'hard' sessions per week, we mean hard sessions. You can't amble into the gym, play around on a few machines, chat to your buddies and expect to get jacked.

Each and every session, you've got to mean business. You're going to be in and out of the gym in 45 minutes, so you don't have time to clown around and not put the effort in.

Your three weights sessions will be split into three different workouts; push, pull, and legs. This split is easy to follow, is safe for long term use, and most importantly, delivers on the promises.

As a general rule, 'pushing' movements usually target the shoulders, chest and triceps. Examples of pushing exercises are chest press, military press, and tricep extensions. 'Pulling' movements usually hit the back, rear delts and biceps - think rows, pull ups and curls.

Deadlifts are also considered a 'pulling' exercise, whilst the squat is considered a 'push'. Depending on the readiness to train in your legs, you can add either or both of these exercises to your workouts to get some extra lower body stimulation.

On your designated leg day, mix one or two big compound movements (such as a squat, front squat, deadlift, trap bar deadlift etc) with two or three isolation movements (such as a single leg split squat, glute ham raises or barbell hip thrusts). This will be plenty of stimulus to see some great lower body gains.

As your sessions will only be 45 minutes long, we're going to keep the rest periods low to maximise volume. You can also consider employing supersets to get even more activity into each session.

Piecing the puzzle together, your three weights sessions might look something like this:

Monday: Pull Session

Deadlift - 5 sets of 5

Superset 1 - Wide grip pull ups (sets of 8 - 10) and lateral raises (sets of 15 - 20) - 3 sets of each exercise

Superset 2 - Bent over row (sets of 8 - 10) and bicep curls (sets of 10 - 12) - 3 sets of each exercise

Finisher: Farmers walks

Push session

Push ups - 4 sets of 15

Dumbbell chest press - 4 sets of 10

Barbell military press - 4 sets of 8

Tricep dips - 4 sets of 10

Friday: Legs

Barbell back squat - 4 sets of 8

Superset 1: Reverse deadlifts and front squats, 3 sets of 10 for each exercise

Superset 2: Leg press and barbell hip thrusts, 3 sets of 12 for each exercise

Prowler sprints to finish

These exercises are just a guideline - the important thing is that you make the time to get three sessions under your belt each week. That's just 2 hours 15 minutes of time in the gym. Anything on top of that is a bonus.

Once you've got your weights dialled in, we're going to add one more 'training day' to complete your programme.

Step 2 - Conditioning

As a busy person, you don't have time for long, punishing sessions of cardio. So, we're going to condense your conditioning benefits into as short a session as possible.

In practice, that's one short sprint session per week. This is plenty to ignite your fat burning mechanisms and ensure that all your new found muscle isn't hidden under excess blubber.

Sprints can be done on a hill, a flat surface, or even on a bike or rowing machine. The important thing is that you make the time to do them.

After warming up thoroughly, sprint all out for 30 - 40 seconds, then rest for 1 minute. Repeat 8 - 10 times, and you've completed your workout.

Your sprint sessions are wrapped up in 30 minutes, max. Make the time, get them done, and enjoy the results.

Step 3 - Movement

These four sessions of training per week are great, but they're not going to have the desired effect if you spend the rest of your time sitting at a desk all day.

To maximise your results, try and get as much low level movement into your days as possible. Movement won't eat into your schedule, but it is essential for keeping your body active, diverting blood into the muscles and mobilising the joints.

Walk as much as possible. Stretch every morning for 10 - 15 minutes. Take movement breaks from work, and if you can, invest in a stand up desk.

You can also drop and do a set of 20 push ups or bodyweight squats at random intervals throughout the day. Have fun with it, challenge yourself, and just keep your body guessing.

Step 4 - Nutrition

The last piece in your muscle building puzzle is the nutrition. Train as hard as you like - if you're not eating well, you're not going to get results.

But, as a busy person, we know you don't have time to prep gourmet meals every day. The key is to plan ahead; batch cook your food at the weekends, or if you're really pressed for time, try a healthy meal delivery service such as Fresh Fitness Food.

Eat well, and eat plenty. When you're busy, eating enough food can slip down your priority list. But you need to make sure you keep your body in a caloric surplus in order to build muscle.

For most of us, that's 10% above your maintenance calories each day. If you're particularly active or have a fast metabolism, that may be even more.

Remember - being 'busy' isn't an excuse to be soft, weak and out of shape. Set aside a few hours each week to dedicate to training and nutrition, and just watch how great your results are.

Please send us your questions and any comments you would like to make, via our social media channels. Plus if you feel informed by what you have read, please share the information using #JHHF #JHFitness #jHTraining #JHLeanGains #JHBodyBuilding #rugbyfit

Twitter - @jameshaskellhf

Instagram @jameshaskellhf

Before You Go