A quick fix (probably isn’t the answer)

Lately I’ve been desperately searching for quick and easy 30 minutes (give or take) workouts to sate my morning desires before I sentence myself to [sales], [inbox], [undesirable work colleagues], maundering through each hour until I return home to recant my love for the job.

What I’m rapidly discovering though is that whilst 30 minutes in the morning is just enough for me to get through the day, realistically it’s not enough for my long-term goal. The problem primarily lies with being able to re-motivate yourself to exercise in the evenings.

But I have a bit of a personal, yet social issue with that and here’s why:

1) I don’t have any free weights or machines in my house
2) I can’t afford a gym membership to rectify the above
3) I don’t want to go to the gym alone as I don’t really know what I’m doing, thus I want to prevent embarrassing myself publicly
4) I have nobody to go to the gym with
5) I don’t push myself hard enough because I’m not comfortable with the concept of pain

It’s almost an endless cycle really. The last point in particular is the one I find the most difficult to deal with. I’ve spent my entire life dealing with countless injuries, and I use the phrase “dealing with” extremely loosely as therein lies the precise nature of the problem at hand; I don’t deal with injuries properly. I’m not so sure it’s a case of being terrified of permanent, irreversible damage, moreover that I just have this incapability of tolerating substantial levels of pain which is frustrating for somebody who always gives 100% when engaged in competitive sport.

Nevertheless, my well-documented injury complaints aside, I have slowly begun to formulate some sort of weekly schedule which I’m trying despairingly hard to stick to. It involves 30 minutes in the morning, occasionally 30 minutes at lunch and if not then 1 hour at home. This was substantially easier to do in the summer as I’d just wear my shorts around the office and then change my shoes and t-shirt for lunch time sessions but now that we’re back to business attire I fear that a significantly bigger-than-necessary proportion of my lunch hour would be spent getting change.

Alas, I used this week as a tester week to wean myself back into it. Suffering after the Parkrun last weekend meant I had no other choice but to concentrate on anything that wasn’t ankle-related.

I took some photographs from a workout website and tried to follow their routines as best as I could considering the relatively limited equipment we have at work. The sessions are based on what’s known as a 5-8-12 workout routine. Essentially you do 5 repetitions of the first exercise, 8 repetitions of the second exercise and then 12 repetitions of the third exercise. That completes one set. It is recommended that you do one or two “warmup” sets with lighter weight to get your muscles going. I’m notoriously BAD for doing this which also explains why I have no right to complain about injuries.

This is how my week went down:

Morning – Chest
Lunch – Triceps

Morning – Shoulders
Lunch – Back


Morning – various cardio*

The Work Lap


Start as you mean to go on, they say. Well, I took the pictures on Sunday night and then completely forgot to actually look at it on Monday morning. What should’ve been a 5-8-12 session of Flat Dumbbell Presses, Incline Barbell Presses and Cable Cross-Overs actually turned into a completely different session. I also spent the entire week completely forgetting which way around everything was, often doing the sessions as 12-8-5 instead.

For some reason I also decided to do 12 reps of each exercise on the first set which, in hindsight, was a ridiculous idea but happily or otherwise, I persevered. It’s also worth noting the weights I used (per set):

Barbell Bench Press: 35kg / 35kg / 32.5kg / 30kg
Butterfly: 10kg / 12.5kg / 10kg / 7.5kg – I think the machines are 2.5kg increments
Dumbbell Flyes: 4.5kg / 4.5kg / 4.5kg / 4.5kg – not ready for 7kg yet

By lunchtime, I hadn’t felt like I’d done anything anywhere near justifiable so I hit the gym again for some triceps exercises

Again, classic me, I didn’t stick to the routine I had prescribed myself, but it’s similar:

Spoiler alert: even though this doesn’t appear all that tough, I’ve been sore all week since doing this. All week. Also, I didn’t have my feet raised off the ground on the bench dips.

For the record I used 10kg for the overhead extensions and 7kg for the skull crushers. Strength doesn’t just appear overnight folks, I’m not an absolute unit yet.


I always seem to find myself doing back and shoulders interchangeably so combining the two on the same day seemed the most logical.

The morning session consisted of:

And the lunch session:

I was also very politely educated by one of my work colleagues that my technique when doing the bent-over barbell row was “the worst technique he’d ever seen” and proceeded to demonstrate how to do it correctly. He apologetically insisted throughout that his actions were not intended to be intrusive, only that he was concerned that I’d put my back out if I continued on my merry way.

At the end of the day I’m forever grateful for advice from people who’ve been there, done that, and know what they’re doing. Sure, it’s with taking some of it with a pinch of salt, but the truth is these people have been doing it a lot longer than I have, so they must know something.


Rest day, huzzah! Also known as “too lazy to do anything today because triceps killed my arms” but I did need to do a little catchup on my work so was probably the right call all round.


*I actually had a much different session planned out for this morning but truth be told I had to change it last-minute. Some absolute cretin almost ran me off the road just before I go to work and if it wasn’t for my quick reactions I definitely would’ve been unceremoniously strewn over a barrier and upside-down in a ditch. Not even so much as an apology from the other driver either. Not even acknowledgement that they’d nearly caused a ridiculous accident through a lack of attention.

So, I was seething. As such, a morning biceps session was just not going to cut it. Anger had brewed and been stirred deep inside me and by the time I got into the gym in the morning I just wanted to hit every piece of machinery that allowed me to release pent up energies. Naturally, I was unable to settle on just one machine so I did about 5mins of the normal bike, 5mins of the seated bike, 5mins of some elliptical trainer and then finally hit the treadmill.

Retrospectively, I’m ashamed of myself for allowing my gym session to become a chaotic, scrambling mis-match of exercises but I’m glad I tried to restore some order with my treadmill session

Set to 7mph, I did some incline training:

30seconds, 0% incline / 15seconds rest
30seconds, 2% incline / 15seconds rest
30seconds, 4% incline / 15seconds rest
30seconds, 6% incline / 15seconds rest
30seconds, 8% incline / 60seconds rest
30seconds, 6% incline / 15seconds rest
30seconds, 4% incline / 15seconds rest
30seconds, 2% incline / 15seconds rest
60seconds, 0% incline

I felt that, at the very least, some structure to my running would have some benefit in the long run so I tried to make it worthwhile.


Another Friday, another Work Lap. I don’t really have a good benchmark to work with at the moment having smashed the time last week, so I think realistically I should’ve been aiming for sub-12minutes although I would love to be close to the 11:30 mark again.


As it transpires, I did hit the sub-12minute marker (although let’s disregard the distance for a second because the GPS had an absolute nightmare and falsely believed that I had somehow cut across houses on the back bend) but this one was one the stranger runs that I’ve ever done. I felt good for almost all of this run; my breathing was strong, my feet held out and I felt like I was running at a very reasonable pace. Even on the uphill back half mile I still felt like I was in relative control. Well, as much control as you can be when you’re screaming at yourself to give up but, upon realising that you’d just run your first mile in “allegedly” 8:18 you don’t really give yourself any choice but to push as hard as you can to ensure you get anywhere near your target.

In actuality, I was averaging 8:08 minute miles but alas, my GPS obviously hadn’t woken up properly.

Still, I’ve had a weekend of rest and recuperation (bar some short 30 minute abs exercises) and I’m hitting the golf course on Monday evening in preparation of our own version of the Ryder Cup (more on that another time) so I feel that maybe the Monday morning session should be light too.

That probably means I’ll be finding some sort of quick fix again then…



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