The Top 10 Tips For The Busy Executive Wanting To Get In Shape

It can almost seem an impossible task to get in shape while living the life of a busy executive.

I work with executives every day and still get taken aback by the constant travel, meetings, deadlines and busyness of it all. Many of my clients are just like you, stressed-out with a lot on their plate and very little time left in the day to look after themselves.

Although it may seem like an impossible task, the results my clients get tell a different story. With the right program, guidance and a few tricks of the trade, even the busiest of men can achieve remarkable results.

Here are the top 10 tips for the busy executive.

Focus on hydration

You’re made up of about 60% water. Dehydration by just 2% can decrease your mental and physical performance by up to 30%. Yeah, that’s massive.

Keep a bottle full of water near you at all times. Whenever you finish it, fill it back up straight away. You should never feel thirsty because you're always sipping.

Drink at least 2L of water a day.

If you’re after something more precise, the rule of thumb is 35mL for every kilo of bodyweight. So, for a 91kg man, he would drink: 91x35 = 3185mL or 3.2 litres.

Master portion control and awareness

Executives don't have time to weigh every bit of food and count calories. A much more suitable method of controlling diet is through portions. This involves knowing how much you should eat, being aware of hunger cues and when you're full as well as sticking to a routine.

Know what's on the menu

When eating out, plan ahead. Get a glance at the menu (or get your PA to) and choose the best option ahead of time so you don't get caught up in the moment.

Once you get good at this you can develop the skill to look at any menu and automatically choose the best. Most of the time it looks like:

- Nothing fried

- Low in oil and sauce

- High volume of vegetables

- Protein option (chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef)

Own the meeting

With the responsibilities and leadership an executive has, you're going to be in many meetings - it's important to acknowledge that and make the most of it.

If you have a big meeting, know exactly what you'll be eating before you go in (to have high energy) and what you'll eat after you're done (as you'll be hungry and tempted by junk food).

Food served in meetings is often crap. Avoid the finger food on the table and either request better options or bring your own.

Dominate travel

Like with meetings, you also travel a lot. 12+ hour flights, not moving the whole time and eating whatever they serve you is a recipe for disaster.

  • Go straight to sleep. Use the business class seats to your advantage and catch up on some much needed sleep, also skipping the snacks and alcohol they'll soon bring around.

  • Bring your own food (buy it at the airport). A much easier way to control your nutrition as you choose what's on your plate.

  • Get up and move around. Whenever you get the opportunity - rotate, stretch, reach, bend, squat - move.

Then, wherever you're travelling to, aim to get into the same routine as you would back home - same eating, same training, same bed time. Travel is not an excuse.

Determine your go-to meals

I always advise having three go-to meals you can whip up in 5-10 minutes with ease. With these staples on your menu you won't have to resort to fast food.

A breakfast, lunch and dinner is recommended.

Maximise sleep quality

One night of poor sleep reduces mental focus the next day by 32%. A few nights in a row destroys your body’s physical performance by half. If you’re sleep deprived and this is your ‘normal’ state, sleep just became your top priority.

Notice the keyword up there, ‘quality’, it's not so much the total amount of sleep which matters. Your deep sleep cycles are where the magic of brain organisation and physical regeneration occur.

Things like avoiding caffeine after 2pm, no screens pre-sleep, minimising bedroom light and moderating temperature.

Sleeping more can be impossible for an executive, but you have the power to improve the quality.

Exercise efficiency

Not all exercises are equal, there are a few which give 10x more benefit by working the whole body and allow you to train with intensity.

When time is short, time efficiency is the name of the game. Choose exercises which give you the biggest bang-for-your-buck. Think:

- Supersets (alternating between two exercises) over straight sets (one exercise at a time)

- Free weights over machines

- Lunges over calf raises

- Chinups over bicep curls

Accidental exercise

When you have little time to spare, think about how you can trade time to exercise instead of trying to add it in.


  • Taking phone calls while walking (biggest one)

  • Riding to work

  • Eating lunch at your desk and using your lunch hour to exercise

  • Always taking the stairs

  • A standing desk in your office

This can all add up to a serious amount without you having to put any extra time in.

Cut the alcohol

Unless you can convince me you need alcohol to survive, you don't need to drink it.

Most of my executive clients have reduced their alcohol intake dramatically, some even cutting it out completely, and none of them say they miss it. It was a crutch for social situations, it was the norm and it was a habit they were looking to kick at the first opportunity.

The moment you realise this, it gets a lot easier to get in shape.

Getting in shape is more difficult for executives than many people, with the demands placed on them and stressors of life. Difficult is one thing, it is not impossible. With the right mindset, coaching and willpower, remarkable results can be achieved.

And that's where I can help.

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