In Case of Emergency, Follow This Workout Strategy

“Aw hell. I’ll get back on track when things settle down.”

Whether we have a sick kid who’s keeping us at home, or we go on a trip that’s crazy and our schedule is all over the place, or even just a stressful few weeks at work trying to hit a tight deadline, our personal health tends to be the first thing that goes out the window when the shit hits the fan.

And then we have our first day back to exercise. Ugh. We feel like crap, we have ZERO momentum, and getting back into the gym feels like walking into the depths of hell. On top of that, we’ve put on weight, our strength numbers are down, and we feel like we’ve backslid by months in mere weeks.

Well, I say NO MORE!

Today I’m going to give you an emergency plan to follow that will allow you to weather any storm, endure weeks of chaos, and get back on track with minimal backsliding.

Use this in case of emergency.

The Emergency Diet Plan

Veggie Spread

When the shit hits the fan, our first thought is to abandon any healthy plan we had in mind.

Late nights in the office revolve around pizza and subs, vacations revolve around strawberry daiquiris and junk food, and a sick kid or being sick ourselves means we’ll eat whatever we can get our hands on.

Because diet is 90% of the battle, the BIGGEST wins we can snag while everything else is chaotic is to keep our diet in check. Here’s your emergency escape plan:

1) Make sure every calorie counts. Sure, we know that not all calories are created equal, but every calorie counts. Would it be awesome if you ate chicken and broccoli and kale while things were going poorly? YUP. Is that gonna happen? NOPE. So do the best you can.

Just because you have access to three meals a day plus snacks does NOT mean you need to eat all the things, all the time.

  • Swap out sodas for water.
  • Swap out grilled veggies as your side instead of fries.
  • Practice portion control, where you don’t eat the entire meal. Eat slowly, and dump salt on it after you’re done.

Consider skipping breakfast! It’s called intermittent fasting, and it’s how I lost 5 pounds while traveling for three weeks and eating poorly. I strategically missed certain meals to keep my daily calorie count in check.

2) Alternate healthy and unhealthy meals. When we eat poorly for breakfast, we think it ruins the whole day and causes us to eat like crap for lunch and dinner too. Stop it!

  • If you eat a bad lunch, eat a good dinner.
  • If you eat a bad dinner, opt for a healthy breakfast (or no breakfast).

One bad meal doesn’t ruin you for weeks. It’s when you let one bad meal ruin the next one, and the next one, and the next one. So snap out of it. Alternate healthy with unhealthy. Even if you can only make ONE healthy choice, it’s better than nothing.

3) Time your bad meals. I always do an intense strength training workout right before meals where I’m going to eat poorly. When you strength train, you break down your muscles and they then rebuild themselves slowly over the next 24-48+ hours.

While your muscles are rebuilding, they’re pulling from your most readily available calories to make that process happen. Like the ones you just ate.

Conversely, when you eat poorly and don’t exercise, those calories have really no other option but to be stored as fat.

Now, what should that workout look like?

The tread water workout

SteveUnderwater Running

Below, you’ll see a list of exercises. If you only have time for one exercise, pick the one at the top. If you have time for #2, do the next. If you have time for #3, do ’em all.

But that (1, 2, and 3) should be your whole workout. This should take you about 15-20 minutes, and you can do it 1/2/3/4 times per week depending on your schedule. What’s important is that you do it at least once per week.

These movements work every muscle in your body, recruit extra muscle fibers, and tax your nervous system in a healthy way, and keep you alert, fit, fierce, and strong. Feel free to print out the following PDF to bring with you on your next trip, or to have ready for the next emergency.

Depending on your situation, pick the Weight Training or the Bodyweight Routine.

Emergency Workouts Weight


Exercise #1: LEGS

Alternate each workout: Squats / Deadlifts: 3 sets of 5 reps at a weight that is challenging.

Exercise #2: PUSH

Alternate each workout: Overhead Press / Bench Press: 5 sets of 5 reps at a weight that is challenging.

Exercise #3: PULL

Pull ups, dumbbell row, or Bodyweight rows: 5 sets of as many reps as possible.

Emergency Workouts Bodyweight

Bodyweight: Pick one from each category.

Exercise #1: LEGS

Squats: 3 sets:

Exercise #2: PUSH

Push ups: 3 sets:

Exercise #3: PULL

Pull ups or rows: 3 sets:

You can download the bodyweight graphic here (right click save as) and the weight graphic here (right click save as).


Alternate sets of exercise #2 and #3 if you are in a big hurry. If things are really desperate, I’ll go into a gym or park and just do the following:

  1. Pull ups: as many as I can in one set
  2. Push ups: as many as I can in one set
  3. Repeat #1 and #2 for 5 circuits.

You’re your only hope

star wars

Shit happens… oftentimes for weeks and weeks. During that time, every calorie counts, every meal counts, every rep counts:

  • If you only have time to do a few lunges while you’re taking care of your baby, that rep counts.
  • If you can only do one pull up on various structures while walking around on vacation, they count.
  • If you crank out 50 hungover push-ups before you head out for the day while on vacation, they count.

Scrape and scrap for every rep you can get, whenever you can get them. They count, and they add up.

Make one healthy decision per day in your diet, and find time to do at least one INTENSE strength training session per week (or many small ones like explained above).

Conserve energy during the chaos, minimize any backpedaling, and allow yourself to hit the ground running again once you can focus on your health.

What about you? Have you found a way to minimize the damage during a chaotic stretch in your life? Any tips and tricks you have will help SOMEBODY in the Rebellion – after all there’s at least 270,000 of us 🙂

What’s your “in case of emergency, do this!” plan?

Share it in the comments!



photo source: mac_filko: jedi, Wajahat Mahmood: emergency keys

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