I keep seeing articles about workplace exercises that you can do throughout the day to stay fit or ways you can get a quick workout in without going to the gym. Most of these articles are targeted for people who are in offices all day. A lot of the diagrams and instructions use office chairs and desks to perform the exercises, which is kind of funny to see.
But as a field service professional, you’re out on jobs and don’t spend too much time in the office. These simple to follow office exercises don’t apply to you. I used to work summers as a tennis court resurfacer. I loved the job and made good money for a college kid. But I was in the off-season for hockey and the coach for the college team I played for expected us to be in peak condition by the end of summer. It was tough to balance at the time - a full time job and also getting a two hour workout in every day.
As stupid as I looked doing it, I came up with a few exercises that I could do on my breaks that are based off of the workouts that our college hockey team were expected to do during the summer. Here are 10 exercises field service professionals can do on their breaks and an 8 week workout plan to put those exercises to use!
Disclaimer: Before I begin, I should probably let you know that I in no way have formal training in the field of physical training. All the warnings that you see on other workout guides apply, be smart, don’t put yourself or others in danger and know your limitations! You aren’t going to be the next Chuck Liddel from throwing around buckets and doing squats with gear you have on your truck, but these exercises can help your overall fitness!
Walking Lunges - Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes
These can be done with or without weight. Start out with by taking a large step forward and bend your back leg. Keep your front knee over your front toe with your weight centered. It might be tough to balance at first. You might need to use your arms for balance at first, so I would recommend starting out without any weight (plus, they are plenty tough on their own). You don’t need to hold the position very long, stand up and bring your feet together and repeat with the opposite leg.
Do 4 sets of 20 lunges. Once you have mastered the lunges without weight, start trying them holding an object in front of you or if you really want to get ambitious, put something on your shoulders. I would try doing these with cement bags on my shoulders or by holding a lighter bucket in front of by body.
Tip: Add a twist at your waist and it will work your abdominals, too!
Grip Strengthener - Muscles Worked: Wrists and Forearms
Odds are you have one of these lying around somewhere, I think I have about five from my grandpa. These are great for not only strengthening your grip, but also for toning and strengthening your forearms. Leave one of these in your truck for when you’re on your way to jobs.
Try seeing how many you can do for each hand. Do as many repetitions as possible. Then, once you know your number, try and add at least one per day. Another great exercise is to do a ladder. Start at 1 and work your way up to 10. Switch hands after each set. So go 1 rep Left, 1 rep Right, 2 reps Left, 2 reps Right, and so on. Then work your way back down. It is tough!
Squats - Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes
Just like the walking lunges, start out by performing this exercise with your body weight. Set your feet shoulder width apart, keep your chest up and slowly bend your knees and at the waist. Your ending position should be just like you’re sitting in a chair.
Try doing 4 sets of 20. And then if you do add weight, lower the amount of reps. you can be creative with what you use for weight and it really doesn’t need much. What I would recommend doing is holding an object out in front of you, since that forces you to keep your chest up and promotes good form.
Tip: add a small hop in when you are in the squatted position.
Truck Bed Dips - Muscles Worked: Triceps and biceps
No, this is not chewing Copenhagen on your tailgate. You’ll need a 5 gallon bucket for this exercise and your work truck(assuming it isn’t lifted too high, might not work on a jacked-up machine!). Set the bucket about 3 feet away from the center of your lowered tailgate. Face the bucket and place your back against the tailgate. Place both hands firmly on the tailgate, knuckles facing the bucket - make sure you have a solid grip and that you won’t slip. Then, place your feet up on the bucket. With your arms extended straight, slowly bend your elbows and lower your body. You should try and get your elbows as close to a 90° as possible and then push your body back up.
These can be difficult, so start out by testing out how many reps you can perform. Once you have a good idea of what that number is, try performing 3 total sets. The first set at 50% of your max, the second at 75% and then the third at 90% of your maximum reps. Take at least a 30 second break in between sets.
Tip: lift your leg up six inches above the bucket, alternate legs with each rep you do.
Curls - Muscles Worked: Biceps
These can be performed more than one way. If you’re using a bucket, grab on to the handle with just one hand. Start out with a low weight, if you’re a landscaper you might have some rock or stone readily available, and then work your way up through sets. Start by holding the bucket off to your side, like you normally would carry just one bucket. Stand up straight. Then, with your forearm and inside of your wrist facing forward, raise the bucket towards your shoulder. If you can, try to bring the handle all the way to your shoulder, then slowly bring it back down. Try doing 4 sets of 10 reps for each side.
Tip: If you have a “workout buddy”, you can grab a shovel or a broom handle and have them add resistance. Hold onto the handle with your hands shoulder width apart. Stand up straight. Bring the “bar” all the way to your chest. While you’re doing this, your partner is pushing down in the opposite direction, adding resistance.
Bucket Front Raise - Muscles Worked: Deltoids, Biceps
Who would’ve thought that a 5-gallon bucket could be so useful! Grab the bucket of the handle with both hands with your palms facing the ground. Start out with the bucket resting against your legs. With your arms completely straight, slowly raise them until they are fully extended out in front of you in a 90° angle. Slowly bring the bucket back down.
See how many of these you can do with a lighter weight. Do four 4 sets total. First set, do 50% of your maximum reps. Second set, 75% of your max. Third set, perform 90%. And for your fourth set, do as many as you can!
Bucket Swings - Muscles Worked: Hips, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lats, Abs, Shoulders Pecs
Ah, yet another bucket workout! This one is inspired from a Kettlebell exercise that works your entire body. It is similar to the front raise, but also incorporates a squat. Use a slightly heavier weight than you would use for the front raises. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and the bucket in front of you on the ground. Squat down slightly, grab the bucket with both hands and swing it forward. Keep your chest upright throughout the whole swing, you shouldn’t be using your back to lift at all. The bucket should reach the height of your shoulders and then swing back down between your legs.
Try doing 4 sets of 12 of these swings.
Tip: Once you get the hang of it, try alternating hands at the top of the swing.
Ground to Truck (a.k.a. Floor to Shelf) - Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Abs, Shoulders
This is a great one to do because you can kill two birds with one stone - work out and put gear back in your truck! For this one, start out with a lighter weight item that you can easily hold with two hands like a bucket…. just kidding! The way this exercise is performed in a typical setting is with one dumbbell or a kettlebell. So if you have a smaller box with handles on each side, that might be best to use. I’ve seen people fill a plastic milk jug with water or sand, that or any other type of container would work well!
Start with your left hip near the truck and your object to your right. With your feet a little more than shoulder width apart, lean to the side and hold onto your make-shift dumbbell. Your torso will be twisted so your chest is facing your right knee. Lift the object across your body diagonally as if you're going to place it into your truck. Keep your feet as stationary as possible. Once the object is the height of the tailgate, bring it back across your body and set it down near your right foot. Don’t actually place your make-shift dumbbell into the truck until your last rep.
These are pretty tough to do, so again, start with low weight and really focus on your form. Perform 3 sets facing both ways(6 total sets) of 5. Tip: If you have back problems, you might want to stay away from these ones! Instead, stand with your legs shoulder width apart, hold your “dumbbell out in front of you and slowly twist side to side with both arms extended. This works similar muscle groups, but is easier on your back.
One Armed, Bent Over Lawnmower Rows - Muscles Worked: Lats, Traps, Biceps
This is an exercise that you can do with really most items that you’d find in a field service truck. Shovel, broom, box, bag, bucket…. just something with some weight to it that you can grip with one hand. Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your weight out in front of you on the ground. Bring your chest towards one side of your body, your chest should be close to parallel with the ground. grab weight and slowly pull it off the ground using a similar motion to starting up a walk behind mower, for some of you lawn maintenance folks, this motion is probably all too familiar! Repeat on the other side.
Try doing 4 sets of 8 on each side.
Tip: If the last couple of sets are getting tough to do, place your forearm on the knee you’re facing. It will give you a little more stability and helps isolate the side of your body that you are lifting the weight with.
Paint cans - Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Traps
Hold two, light, but equally weighted objects on the side of your body, with elbows bent slightly less than 90°. Slowly raise your arms out towards the side, keeping the bend consistent. Your finish position should look like you’re pouring laundry detergent out of a big bottle into a washing machine. Both palms facing the ground, elbows still bent.
Do just 2 sets and go about 10-15 reps. These are tougher and can make your shoulders pretty sore, so go with a lighter weight.
The 8 Week Plan
Now that we have the excercises, let's put together a workout plan!
Of course, feel free to mix and match any of these exercises on your own, but here are three plans that you can use throughout the week; one for a leg/lower body workout, one for an upper body workout and another for an all around workout.
Ideally, try doing all three of these workouts within a week and then repeat the following week. A rest day in between each workout is a smart idea. As a field service professional, you’re probably on your feet enough throughout the week, so you don’t want to get too tired/sore!
Each set of these don’t need to be done right after each other, it would probably take you about 30 minutes to get through a workout if you did, so if you did have a short break or half an hour left in your lunch break you could get through most of a work out! But these exercises should be easy enough to do throughout the course of your day.
Make sure you’re in a safe setting!
If you’re around any moving machinery, you should NOT be doing any of these exercises. You don’t want to risk getting seriously injured just to get buff, do you?
Here are three workouts that you can do throughout the week:
The Lower Body Workout
The Upper Body Workout
The All-Around Workout
So now you have the field service fitness plan and can workout and improve yourself. How about learning how to beef up your business' online presence? Download your free eBook, Local SEO and the Green Industry!