An accountant's guide to building strength when the gym is not an option.
During my time in the accounting field, I used one-arm push-ups extensively as a way to promote strength when time was limited. In a financial reporting environment, it is common to work 12-16 hour days and doing traditional "workouts" is not only impractical but also dangerous after such a brutal and stressful workday. Unlike many of my peers in the fitness industry, I don't espouse a "What's your fucking excuse" philosophy. Life has legitimate challenges and a one size fits all, no pain no gain approach is not the answer. Sometimes it is not about working harder, but rather smarter, that will move us in the direction of our goals. Which brings me to today's topic. Grease the Groove!
GTG is something I learned from the father of modern kettlebell training Pavel… No last name needed. The idea is to "practice" a move through the day as opposed to performing a traditional workout. At its core, GTG allows the accumulation of volume without building fatigue and by derivation provides an elegant protocol with a generous ROI with minimal risk. Conventional wisdom tells us that performing high-intensity movement for few repetitions at a time, and with plenty of rest in between, can serve as a tonic for the nervous system. You'll feel refreshed, but most importantly you'll feel badass when you put this plan into action. And we all know that it's all about being badass, especially if you work in accounting. Because no one appreciates accounting… But I digress.
There is a strong argument that neural density plays a much greater role in strength than large muscles do. This is how gymnasts, martial artists, and acrobats manage to perform incredible feats of strength with minimal muscular development. Their ability to visualize the movement is greater than the average person, but also their nervous system acts as a superconductor that amplifies strength by the sheer amount of perfect practice they engage in on a regular basis. GTG does just that for your movement and nervous system. All without building fatigue or superfluous muscle mass, and instead GTG upgrades your software and hardware to the latest and most powerful systems available.
So how can you employ this ingenious and valuable technique into your regime? Let's get right to it.
The assumption is that you have anywhere from one to fifteen minutes at various times throughout your day to not only get a little physical activity in but to wake the heck up! Whether you are doing data entry, reconciliations or financial analysis sitting for prolonged periods of time can wreak havoc on the body, and the very nature of the work can do the same to your mental state. This is why taking a brief (and I mean brief as in one-minute brief) breaks can be such a lifesaver when you are being held hostage by the financial close. If you know you will be working anything over twelve hours I would set a timer to alert you every two hours that it is time to move. While moving every hour would be ideal, it is also impractical to break away from a difficult reconciliation on which you have found your grove and are suddenly crushing it. So do one hour if your work environment allows, otherwise go for the two-hour goal.
When the alarm hits the two-hour mark, stand up and lengthen your spine. Place your feet parallel to each other, level your hips and get tall by driving your heels into the ground and the top of your head towards the ceiling. Take care to lengthen while maintaining proper alignment from head to toes. Common mistakes include tilting your pelvis forward and lifting your chin up. Many beginners tend to hold their breath as well when performing this postural awareness drill, so be sure to fill your lungs. Place your hands in front of your body with your elbows by your side and perform wrist circles, followed by elbow circles and finally scapular camshafts. Now that you have warmed up the main joints associated with the one arm push-up in a neural manner, you are free to knock one out. Be sure to start on your less skilled side, so that when you switch sides, you'll be on the "strong" side and it will feel easier to perform. Also, it is a cool Jedi mind trick to finish on a strong repetition as you head back to your work. Brace your deep core musculature by contracting your pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, obliques, and rectus abdominis. Sniff air in through your nose and let some, not all, out through pursed lips. You have now created intra-abdominal pressure and are primed to perform the one arm push-up safely and efficiently.
Here are some important strategies to follow.
1st: Select the one arm push-up variation that suits your skill level. If the form is not clean, you can get hurt and discouraged. The idea is to give your nervous system an "I feel good" injection by stimulating it in a powerful way, and performing repetitions with poor form will not be helping you accomplish that. So perfect form!
2nd Don't get carried away with the volume. It will feel good to stimulate your proprioceptive system by combining dynamic joint mobility and a full tension, body-weight exercise, but you must exercise prudence in regards to volume. If you decide to go all gung-ho and perform ten repetitions instead of singles, you will fry your nervous system, and be even more of a wreck on day two of the close. You know, the one where your boss kicks back all of your recs and you get a solid three hours of work on things that don't even relate to close. Yeah! That day… Day two. So don't overdo it with the movement, as it is meant to help you feel better, not worse than you were before. Even if you have a full fifteen minutes and the neural juice to crank them out, don't go above five reps at a time. This is supposed to be a strength building exercise that should be performed slowly and under total control. If you are getting more than five repetitions you are either a Cirque De Solei performer, or you are doing it wrong, just like the reconciliations.
3rd Go to a separate area whenever possible. If you are only doing the joint mobility on that particular break it is perfectly acceptable to stay in front of your computer, and even seated if that is all you need to reset and refresh your system. If you work in a cubicle try to find an empty conference room or office to perform your drills. If you have an office, go in front of your desk so you have a little more space to maneuver.
4th Everything I have described here can be applied to the one-legged squat, or pistol as it is commonly referred to in the vernacular.
While I went with a rather humorous depiction of what this might look like in an office setting, the protocol works well for many professions, all of which have a much higher probability of doing it than accountants do. That's kind of mean. Oh well, it's true.
For example, if you work in a gym environment this type of training is not only welcomed but convenient as you have both the environment and equipment to do your greasing and grooving. When I worked at Urban Bodies in North Park, San Diego in 2007 I decided that I wanted to train for a one-arm pull-up. I did just that by performing a one arm negative before the start of every personal training session. In a few months and without breaking a sweat I got my one arm pull. If you are a police officer working long shifts and want to avoid being sore from your last workout, but still need to develop adequate attributes to support your profession, GTG provides a solution and saves your hard sessions for when you can line it up with a few days of rest. That way your performance on the job never has to suffer due to poor training decisions. The same can be said of any first responder, as GTG keeps you fresh for the fight.
All levity aside the dangers of sedentary professions are well known and widely accepted. Sitting is commonly called the new smoking in corporate wellness circles. High blood pressure, chronic fatigue, diabetes, postural disorders, depression, high divorce rates, and the list goes on, and on. The industry has to take action to combat these very real, and very dangerous trends or risk becoming synonymous with dysfunction and disease. Our Corporate Wellness Chamber can help you deliver an educational segment on your next professional development day to spark a shift away from the unhealthy habits rampant in corporate America and begin on the path to a wholesome environment where human beings can not just be productive for their employers but thrive in their personal lives as well.
Look at this stud muffin!