The 'Punch The Clock' Workout

The ‘Punch The Clock’ Workout

If you really sit down for one moment and think about it, when you go to the gym you’re paying to enter a building and perform manual labour.

I mean, if I asked you to spend an hour or so wheelbarrowing bricks or shovelling, you’d be looking to be rewarded in some way or another, be it with a cup of tea or some coin.

However you willingly part with your cash to do the same thing around three to five days a week: shifting weight from A to B.

The thing is that this ‘manual labour’ looks good on Instagram, provides validation and gets you off the needy bus.

More importantly, it makes you feel like you can run through walls and look pretty useful.

Though like ‘manual labour’, it will get boring.

There’s always a point in your lifting career where you start to question why you’re training.

jesse pinkman what's the point gif

You take a drive down Aesthetic Avenue – push pull legs ad infinitum, one rest day per week, spent on your arse getting all paranoid, thinking your muscles are shrivelling away and you’re starting to look like you’ve spent a week in Prince’s elevator.

Then it slowly dawns on you that no-one gives a fuck how you look.

So you decide to take a turn into Shredded Street – macros are meticulously counted with the ferocity of Whitney Houston trying to retrieve a spilled crack pipe, and meal prep day in your kitchen is starting to resemble a crystal meth lab.

Those abs start to make their presence felt and you’re walking about proud as punch.

Yet you despair as you look out at the stars wondering why people are struggling to care.

You end up in Strengthsville – strutting into the gym with your belt and chalk telling anyone who will listen it’s ‘max effort’ day and you’re working your ‘lockout’.

You hog the gym platform while summoning the inner seethe from five students who just read Starting Strength and panic when they see the squat rack being used.

You’ve hit a 200kg squat.

If only your friends could equal that weight in the amount of fucks they give.

At this point, your inner Aristotle kicks in.

Why do I do this?

I lift therefore I am?

Doubt starts to creep in and next thing you know you’re skipping training sessions as real life starts to get more and more in the way.

You’re putting a week’s holiday in at work to watch season after season of Orange Is the New Black and scour IKEA for ‘soft furnishings’.

At this point you know shit is getting real.

Now the last embers of testosterone start to flicker in the hope of kicking your balls back into action.

It’s time to take your training back.

It’s time to…

Punch the clock

Scour the internet forums/Reddit nowadays and you’ll be bombarded by people dying to tell you the best way to get jacked/ripped/swole etc.

The problem here it that the information usually comes from faceless gum-bumpers who still stay at home and have never worked a day in their lives.

jim carey typing gif

Hence the reason why they prescribe programmes that call for six workouts, at two hours long a piece, every single week.

Now and again someone loses the plot completely and suggests training TWO times a day.


Who has the time for this?

A ‘punching the clock’ mentality involves stripping training down to sessions that last no more than an hour.

Get in and out of the gym like the SAS: no fuss, no thrills, just hard work.

Turn up with a plan in hand, put in a shift, then get the fuck out the gym and back to reality.

The routine

Punch The Clock is a four day programme.

Any other days are optional and should comprise some form of cardio.

No flippy shit however, none of this burpee bullshit, just get your grind on.

AKA training economy.

Take a look around the gym next time you’re in – the training economy in there probably resembles Lehmann Brothers in 2008.

A complete and utter dithering dickfest which looks like a Saturday night at Fred West’s during Italia 90 – yes, totally horrific.

With this routine, the idea is to make really good use of the time you have in the gym and have something that resembles a focused workout.

i'm in the zone

First off let’s look at the principles of the programme.

A good programme shouldn’t be some spreadsheet full of exercises and numbers.

A good programme is something that involves the nuggets that we do day in and day out.

These ‘nuggets’ include:

  • Drinking 3L+ of water a day (this is so important)
  • Making sure at least two meals we get a day are healthy
  • Picking the right exercises in the gym and working them hard
  • Not overthinking this bullshit – just get in the gym, pick 3-4 exercises, and go to town

The routine is built around four movements:

  • Squat variation (back, front, kettlebell, single leg)
  • Deadlift variation (conventional, sumo, Romanian)
  • Bench press
  • Overhead press

Then it’s time for an upper body push-pull combo:

  • Push (push up, db bench, db shoulder press, dips (the best), bench)
  • Pull (chins, inverted row, db row)

You’ll then follow this with upper back work on two of the days.

  • Upper back (band pull-aparts, rear delt flyes, face pulls)

It is also built around this new concept of NOT GIVING A FUCK about how many sets of whatever you do.

It’s about hitting the same body parts hard four times a week and going for 50-150 reps on whatever you do.

I don’t care how many sets it takes, just make sure you hit 50-150 reps of whatever exercise you’re doing.

So now I’m going to break down how the programme actually works, let’s do this shit…

Week 1


Squat 3 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps


Bench 3 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps
Upper back work 50-150 reps


Deadlift 3 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps


Overhead press 3 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps
Upper back work 50-150 reps

Week 2


Squat 4 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps


Bench 4 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps
Upper back work 50-150 reps


Deadlift 4 x 5
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps


Overhead press 4 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps
Upper back work 50-150 reps

Week 3


Squat 5 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps


Bench 5 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps
Upper back work 50-150 reps


Deadlift 5 x 5
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps


Overhead press 5 x 10
Push 50-150 reps
Pull 50-150 reps
Upper back work 50-150 reps

Once you complete Week 3, go back to Week 1.

When you get back to Week 1, MAKE SURE you add 2.5-5kg to your lower body lifts (Squat, Dead) and 2.5kg to your upper body lifts.


Here are some more nuggets with regards to the programme itself.

  • Once you have completed prescribed lifts, do whatever takes your fancy (this goes for every single day in the programme)
  • Try and superset the exercises if you can, giant sets are even better!

For example, some days I’ll squat and do chins and push-ups in-between.

I’ll do sets of five chins and sets of 20 push-ups.

  • Another potential combo for a giant set is Romanian deadlifts, dips and chins (this is a personal fave of mine, it will wipe you out)
  • Start lightish with the big lifts at the start – however don’t be too soft about it

Pick a weight that’s going to have you getting quite worried as you close in on the last reps.

  • If you can, get a band and do shitloads of band pull-aparts
  • If not then hammer the rear felt flies or close grip inverted rows, LOTS OF
  • Exercises you should rinse the utter fuck out of include: CHINS (DO THESE), dips, inverted rows and push ups

These are the best exercises for upper body IMO.

  • Feel free to throw in some gun work at the end

Doing biceps four times a week is only going to result in one thing:



punch the clock gifSigning off

So there you have it.

Get to the gym, punch the clock and get paid.

If you have any questions about the routine or anything else I’ve raised in this article, I’d love to hear from you.

Hit me up with a comment below or drop us a line on social media.

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  1. As a marathon runner, I’m obviously not the best at completing workouts efficiently.

    However, I love being outside on the trails so much that I try to spend as little time in the gym as possible.

    As strength training is important for runners, I ensure that I get gym time, but it is also something I try get done with as quickly as possible.

    As your program shows, strength training doesn’t need to be this elaborate, time-consuming process.

    In fact, it’s often better to work the muscles hard in a short amount of time.

    Thanks for pointing this out and writing a great post!


  2. Hey Lee.

    How long a rest period would you suggest between sets of the main lift and “attempts” for the exercises in the 50-150 range?

  3. Guys, great site, but I am confused why you ‘lot’ over the pond feel the need to add letters to certain words in our shared language.

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    That is my only beef with you and all your ‘mates.’

    I do fuck with the fact you guys call your boys ‘lads’ though, that’s gangster as fuck.

    Anyway, kickass site.