Lunch break training tips

My job currently affords me all the freedom I need for my training, but during the first 3 years of my employment here, I had little freedom. I was hired with the typical one hour lunch break, and I was expected to be timely. So I had to be efficient with that time if I wanted to use it for training. Before I share my lunch break training tips, if you don’t already have a job…

Before you get any job

Before you get any job, read my thoughts about full time jobs and motivation.  Next, here are examples of jobs to avoid,

  • Transportation worker (trucker and wrecker especially)
  • Police jobs that require you to “cruise” all day long in a car
  • Jobs that require constant airline travel
  • Nurse or surgical technologist
  • School teacher (college professor is fine)
  • Cashiers
  • 3rd shift jobs

Features of these jobs may include:

  • Forced sitting or standing (discomfort)
  • High stress
  • Circadian rhythm (sleep) disruption
  • No ability to negotiate hours or schedule
  • Difficulty eating when and what you want
  • Not enough pay
  • Long hours

This shit will make you suck at training. You want a job with these features instead:

  • Freedom to get up or sit down whenever you want
  • Low-Medium stress
  • Normal daytime hours
  • Routine and flexible schedule
  • Freedom to eat when you want
  • At least medium pay (enough so you don’t have to worry too much about money)
  • Part time hours or 40 hours per week maximum
  • Work located near a gym
  • Short commute

Not all of these features are necessary for training success, but having more of them is better for your training success. I’m describing what to many may be a dream job, or I may simply be describing an engineering job at an upbeat firm with a forward thinking culture. Damn you engineers, I’m jealous. I wish I had chosen that path in college instead of Biology! I could have had something similar to the easy job I have now, but with 3x as much pay and retirement possibilities! gah. Moving on.

When you already have a job

#1. Find the closest gym to your work and get a membership there. This is your #1 priority aside from getting a job that is compatible with your training lifestyle. Obviously, if you only have an hour to train on your lunch break, and your gym is on the other side of town, it’s simply not going to work. Try hard to dig out a gym close to you, look everywhere! For tricking, look for nearby parks or fields. (Oh, and parks are great places to rig up some rings for ring training.)

Jujimufu, ring training, ring training at park

The utility workers at this park are always watching me and waving to me.

#2. Wear your training clothes underneath your work outfit. When you arrive to train, just strip your work clothes off. A fast change out like this can save you about 5 minutes. (This works extraordinarily well for tricking in particular.) I actually have observed much more interesting tactics from other gym goers during the lunch hour. I used to see this one guy, who wore traditional business attire (jacket, suit, tie, dress pants and shoes) just take off the top and put on a t-shirt and work out still wearing his dress pants and shoes! That’s dedication! Of course I never saw the guy train his legs… Hmmm. Maybe he saved leg day for Saturday? I’ve also observed some more casual wear workers (like myself, jeans and a shirt with sneakers for example) just work out wearing these same clothes, maybe with just an optional shirt change.

Jujimufu job

My work outfit is just fine for upper body training, but I’d rather not get the shirt sweaty, so I just change the shirt.

#3. Skip the shower and use a wet rag to scrub your armpits and wipe off your upper body. Then apply a few “glops” of hand sanitizer under your arm pits, then follow with deodorant. This can save you about 13 minutes on cleaning up (typically a shower takes me 15 minutes and this only takes me 2 minutes).

#4. Actually have a workout plan. If you know exactly what your exercises are and how much you are doing, then you save time thinking of what you’re going to do next during your workout. And make sure your workout plan has a plan B! For example, there have been at least one hundred times I showed up to the park to trick, and the park was closed, under maintenance, or filled with children in an organized church event or some shit… Then I’d have to find another park. Plan B. And if you’re at the gym and you plan a 3 exercise workout all in the squat rack… what if that’s the only squat rack in the entire gym and you walk in to find a trainer with two clients swapping in and out of that rack during their crossfit training workout? Then your entire workout plan has been destroyed. It’s like they just sunk your fucking battle ship dude.


Don’t play this game in the gym. Have a plan B for all your exercises.

Look, during any other circumstances you can just do an extra long warmup while you wait for someone to finish using something. But extra long warmups and waiting are not things you can do during a one hour lunch break training opportunity.

#5. Super-setting and rest period restrictions are intra-workout tactics you may consider using to get more out of your time training. Speaking of rest periods, I actually never, ever weight train without timing my rest periods anymore. That’s been one of the things that’s made the most difference for me the past few years. If you’re not doing it, start doing it.

#6. My personal recommendation for a lunch break training routine when time is limited is to keep it ultra simple. For example, here were some of my old lunch break training routines before my own time limitation was absolved:

  • 100 pullups total and 200 pushups total at the park, time attack mode.
  • As many bar muscle ups as I could do in 45 minutes.
  • My ring routine (takes only about 40 minutes).
  • Go tricking and train only one or two tricks. The warmup is specific to those tricks only.
  • Go to gym and do one compound exercise (ex: just deadlifts, or just front squats).
  • Go to gym and do an upper body part split (ex: just shoulders, or just biceps/triceps, or just chest).

These may sound too simple, but listen to me and do it anyway: strip your workouts down to these bare essentials, then as you get better at them and more efficient, add more stuff at that point. Build them back up later if you can… Start low and less if you’re new to lunch break training limitations.

#7. Rent a locker. A locker allows you to always have certain things available without having to remember to bring them. You may even choose to keep your gym bag in your locker for the ultimate convenience (as long as your gym bag isn’t a gigantic 30 lb, chalk breathing, ammonia inhalant smelling behemoth like mine).

Jujimufu gym bag

My gym bag has 9999 hp.

#8. If you own a car, like me, you may choose to keep training items, gym outfits, foods, and supplements in your car at all times, so you never have to remember to bring them. I do this, and in doing so, I never have to spend time packing for the gym, and I never forget anything, ever; Everything I need for training is always with me in the back of my car. Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, If I’m in the mood: I’m ready for training.

Jujimufu car, Jujimufu's car

Before I got a van (and removed all the back seats), this was all smashed into the trunk of my old Corolla…

#9. As hard as it can be, if you are really strapped for time, forego things that tangle, tether or act as time vampires. Your first targets should be your music playing device and your cell phone. They can freeze up (and thus, distract you while you try to get it working again), get in the way, misbehave, you name it. “Where is that damn song anyway? I could have sworn I added it to this playlist?” Besides this, text messaging!

Jujimufu legs, Jujimufu leg training

“I’m at the gym training my calves. What are you doing? How’s your studying going? When will you be getting out of school tonight? I love you! Can’t wait to see you later tonight my sweet, sweet Badger!”

Seriously, these devices can rob you one minute here, one minute there, and it can add up. Music is one of the very best performance enhancers and makes working out a lot more fun, but when you are training on your lunch break with time limitations, then you should probably go music free. Look, the more spartan you are, the less time you will waste trying to attend to technological gremlins. Just walk right in and move that fucking weight. Save the tunes and cellphone stuff for the weekend session when you can take your time and piddle around.

#10. “What about lunch?!” you may ask. If you’re training on your lunch hour you still gotta eat! So here is some inspiration for you from my own workday meals, these take little time to prepare and eat, are cheap, are effective, and can be stored without needing chilled.

Tricking diet, trickster diet, Jujimufu diet, Jujimufu nutrition

Can of tuna, microwaved potatoes. -OR- Protein powder in water with microwaved cream of rice. Instagains.

Another cheap, effective alternative that also takes little time to prepare and eat is a meal shake: prepare a giant meal shake the night before work for lunch, bring it along in a cooler, and crush it when your training session is done. I did this for years. Here’s an ultra experienced tip: if you let it sit out of your cooler for about an hour before you drink it, it’ll warm up enough so you can slam it without getting a brain freeze. That’s important if time is a restriction. Afterall, it’s hard to drink a really cold shake fast, but it’s not hard to drink a shake fast that has been set out to warm slightly. So right before you leave work, take your meal shake out of the cooler so when you get back you can attack it full speed!

#11. This last strategy may seem a bit lame, but it’s a strategy with a lot of potential: RUSH. I want you to recollect on a moment in your life when you were rushed to do something faster than your default pace. An emergency or urgency.

  • Perhaps you had to clean something up really quickly before your parent(s) returned home.
  • Perhaps you had to get dressed really quickly to be on time for an appointment.

Think about how fast you think and move and do things during these type of moments. Can you rush during your lunch break training opportunity?

  • Travel as fast as you can to the gym. Break the speed limit on the roads if you drive. Run red lights.
  • Run or move briskly into, within, and out of the gym.
  • Dress/undress quickly for training.
  • Prepare your weights/machines/training station quickly.
  • Eat your post workout meal quickly. Furious Pete that shit.

These days it seems socially unacceptable to be rushing about like this, people think it’s an emergency when you run or do things really fast. But if you want it bad enough, if training is something really important to you, then you will do what I did, and negotiate to have a longer lunch break with a change of hours so you don’t have to rush your training anymore! Or you will get a better job! Good luck!

16 Replies to “Lunch break training tips”

  1. STEVE YEAH! says:

    Haha another great write up. I used to rush my workout all the time at my job in 2006. Luckily that job had a gym literally across the street that belonged to them. Still even with that I was always running late by a minute.. or 5.. shh.

    But fast forward to 2014. I have a wife, a son, another baby due in june. I decided to cut back on the gym and workout from home to save money and time. I used to workout every day after work but that took away time from my son.. so I decided to get up at 6:30.. drink a cup of coffee and then destory that workout every morning in my basement. Luckily I have an olympic weight bench.. dumbbells.. and even a machine for lat pulldowns/leg extensions/leg curls/flies.. Like you said.. you make it work!.. best part is not waiting to use any of my equipment! Last gym I worked out at was LA Fitness.. it was nice and big.. but man.. people everywhere and I swear every month that had a new promotion to bring more people in.. and they would have pizza days for some of the promotions too.. WTF?

    I love working out from home now. I find myself more motivated now.. I got too distracted before by people talking to me or just equipment being used.. plus it’s in my basement.. only a few steps away from my living room. Once the kids grow up maybe i’ll go back to a gym.. but for now, this works great for balancing my workout/family time.

    1. Jon Call says:

      I’m not a fan of training at a gym after work either. For one thing I’m more tired at the end of the day and less motivated, and I love my pre-workout stimulants. I cannot justify taking shit loads of stimulating drugs 4 hours before sleeping, it’s just not right… For another I hate how fucking crowded the gym can be at that time. I’d rather work out BEFORE work than after it, and I infact did that for 2 years waking up at 4:12 on the dot everyday…

      If I need 2-a-days now it’s usually a temporary stint, often I’ll do the second session in my home out of preference and usually it’s remedial or supplementary work. For me, evenings are a time to socialize, eat a lot of food and unwind with my wife. I always get all my work, writing, cleaning, training, shopping, cooking, whatever done before 5 pm so that’s possible. Congratulations to you and your family building!

      I also like working out at home. I used to LOVE deadlifting in my parent’s garage… Until a hot water pipe busted underneath their house and they said no more deadlifting in the garage haha.. Anyway, I’m out now, and I have a power rack in my dining room.

      In between warm up sets I’ll clean, do laundry, cook lol. I think if you don’t have an olympic weight set at least, or any gym experience, training at home will not help someone reach their goals. Need prior gym experience and a little equipment (like me and you have) to make it productive…

      1. Jon Call says:

        Also it’s for that last thing you mentioned that I typically get a new gym membership every 2 years. In my opinion, they tend to expire. Within 2 years of joining a gym, I meet so many people that they can distract the fuck out of me, always wanting to talk or nod or ask questions. I love the feeling of being the “new guy” in a gym, nobody talking to me because nobody knows me, game face on, killing the weights… But within 2 years that’s all gone and everybody wants to chat or update me on their shit… I think the only exception to any of this would be if I had a membership at a gym like EliteFTS, or one of the other best gyms in the world. Those are absolutely priceless training environments.

  2. STEVE YEAH! says:

    Exactly! I hear ya. After work you just want to be done with everything.. and by the time I would be done with work and got to the gym it would be peak gym times because everybody would be there after 5! Damn!

    Sometimes I have to force myself in the morning because A. I’m not originally a morning person.. B. We’ll that’s it actually lol. But now i’m at the point where it’s routine and my body is used to going to bed on time and getting up early enough. 4:12???? Holy crap.. now that’s determination.

    Thank you! Congrats to you and your wife too! Thats fantastic. I’m such a softy now in my old age. I blame my son. He makes me appreciate and love life more haha.

    HAHAHA that’s hilarious about the water pipe! I’m sure it wasn’t at the time but man you must’ve been dropping down some serious weight! Thanks for the warning. I’ll have to put down some workout mat on the floor for when I deadlift from now on.

    Yes! I would love to have a power rack someday. Although my olympic bench has a back to it where I can adjust the bars. That’s where I do all of my squats so I have somewhere to put the bar when I standing, so that works out pretty decent for me. I follow you on Instagram! My name on there is hulkhoagie.

    I fully agree that you need prior gym experience if you’re going to workout at home. I used to workout in my parents basement as a kid.. it wasn’t ’til I moved out at started going to a gym that it opened my eyes to everything. You make friends.. the big guys give you advice.. lifting partners here and there.. could do without the old men naked in the locker room all the time though.

    Right! Being the new guy is the best. Once you’re there for a while though.. it gets to the point where people start making their rounds to say hi to you.. ugh the chit chat.. guys would try to have 10-15 minute conversations with me and it would completely kill my motivation.. Towards the end of my I would wear my headphones and blast metal. Even if I forgot my phone or ipod i’d still wear my headphones to make it look like I was listening to music 😉 But some people still don’t get the point and that’s one of the few reasons i’m at this point right now.

    Okay, i’m done lol. Already excited to see your next write up!

    1. Jon Call says:

      Old? We’re in our prime muscle building years my friend! Following you on Instagram now, your wife is hot haha! Well done! You look like a cool dad too and a fun family! Stay in touch!

  3. STEVE YEAH! says:

    Don’t mind all of my typos. At work typing fast lol. You get the idea 🙂

  4. STEVE YEAH! says:

    Hahah very true. My dad always told me that his 30s were his favorite age to be alive. I’m starting to see that.

    Fuck yeah she is! She loves metal and 80s action movies too! Jackpot!

    I saw that you were following me last night when I was drinking with my buddies. I was like “yussssssssss” and instantly spammed you with likes lol.

    Thanks man. I appreciate that. Same with you. I always thought you were a super cool dude, I just wasn’t as vocal in the Tricks Tutorial days. I’ll definitely be in touch.. like in every article.. and mostly likely random comments as I dig deeper in articles you’ve already written.

    Have a good one my mang!

  5. drewandy says:

    This article gave me a lot mixed feelings. Thing is, I plan on being a cop soon and I’m even pursuing a related college degree for it. And when I do join the law enforcement, I never gave too much thought about the possibility of it interfering with my training nor would I ever let it. Juji, is the job you have what you’ve always wanted or is it just a source of income to support your finances and training endeavors?…Who knows, something might happen in the future where I find a easy job like Homer Simpson’s. But if I do become a cop, oh well…I’m certainly not going to have the two priorities clash and I’ll obviously do my best in both. Should I continue forward aggressively with reckless grit? What a quandary…

    1. Jon Call says:

      Hi Drewandy,

      I tried to be specific by saying police jobs that require you to drive a lot. There are a lot of jobs in the police force where you basically sit at a desk all day long, but you can get up and move around anytime you want. It’s the “being in the car thing” that is killer… On a positive note, I notice there are a lot of officers who train at my gyms, in the police force, it’s sort of “encouraged” unconsciously that keeping in shape and being strong are good assets. So they are more understanding of you spending your time that way sometime during the day. My advice is to continue forward, see how it works out, and if it doesn’t, see if you can work towards doing something else in the police force that’s more palatable.

      As for my job, it’s entirely a source of income… But it demands nearly none of my resources (time, energy, motivation). It doesn’t interfere with anything I do, and only supports me in the ways I need supported. I’m lucky, but I didn’t find the proverbial needle in the haystack. I have friends and family members with jobs that are similar to mine in different fields. I’m 100% certain that if I lost my job, I’d be able to find another job almost just like this within a year or two…

  6. drewandy says:

    I re-read your article on “Full Times Jobs and Motivations” and I’m still conflicted!!! :((((

  7. Josiah says:

    Just out of curiosity, what is your 1RM bench press?

    1. Jon Call says:

      I’m not sure. lately I’m repping 305 for 3 sets of 10-12, or 135 lb dumbells for 3 sets of 10-12 during my chest workouts.

  8. Matt says:

    Juji do you do any conditioning besides tricking?

    1. Jon Call says:

      Hi Matt,

      What do you mean exactly by “conditioning” ?

  9. Taegashi says:

    Do you seriously call Sam badger?! I guess I can’t say much since I call mine Moose lol!

    1. Jujimufu says:

      Yes. She’s Sam Badger. Sam Badger Call. She’s had the nick name “The Badger” since as early as 3 weeks into our relationship or something if I recall.

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