So today I wanted to talk to you about what I call the placeholder workout. It is pretty much what it sounds like. It is a VERY short workout that is designed to help prevent you from losing your progress.
What it's for:
The placeholder workout is for those days that you'd normally miss the workout. Maybe you're stuck at work, maybe you're not feeling well, maybe the day got away from you and now you're beat tired.
It is important to understand that it isn't going to make you stronger, it isn't going to move you closer to your goal. It will help prevent you from losing your progress. So, the purpose is to simply keep you from back sliding until you can do a proper workout. Typically, a placeholder workout can help maintain your progress for a day or two.
How to do it:
To perform a placeholder workout, you need to perform one good set of exercise for the muscle group or groups you're looking to maintain. If that day was going to be an upper body day, then you need to do one good set (good meaning the muscle experiences fatigue) for each of the muscle groups such as the chest, lats, triceps, biceps, upper back etc. You can perform the exercises in one big circuit (meaning do one exercise after another). Since it is only one set you can still do your regular workout the following day... and i'd recommend you do so.
If you're really strapped for time, you could consider just doing an exercise for the largest muscles i.e. Chest, and Lats (since they both use the biceps, triceps and back. The same would be true if you were scheduled to do a lower body workout (squats and rdls would activate the largest muscle groups).
Why it works:
We have learned through studies that to maintain strength we simply need one set of appropriate resistance. Again, this will only maintain the muscles for a day or two at most.
Other things to know:
While typically we want to give a day of rest for each muscle group trained, you do not need to take a day of rest after performing a placeholder workout. Remember this is not a replacement workout, it is a placeholder. It just prolongs the benefits you received from the prior workout. So, you will want to get back to your regularly scheduled workouts as soon as you can.