Lifting and IB

Been lifting for the past 7-8 years and enjoying every bit of it. Junior summer was rather manageable (was able to squeeze in four 1.5h workouts/week as an SA at a MM bank), but I'm unsure about sustainability of that come FT this summer. Was wondering what scheduling/exercise programming tricks people here employed to maintain and improve their physiques/strength while working IB hours (although those vary, let's assume 80hour average). And by 'lifting', I don't mean 20min Equinox TRX workouts and bike rides to the office. I moreso allude to actual weight lifting and bodybuilding-focused training.The best approach I could've come up with was having shorter 45-65min workouts (depending on the day), 5-6x/week. I personally would love to go less frequently and have longer sessions, but presumably that won't be sustainable long-term with the nature of the job. Curious to hear other IB lifters/fitness people thoughts on this

Comments (41)

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
May 14, 2022 - 11:29pm

Advice would be as follows - 

1) try to squeeze workouts in first thing in the morning rather than after work 

2) if possible, try to get an apt with a good gym in the building or at least close walking distance

  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 14, 2022 - 11:59pm

I interned in person at a bb (coverage) last summer and was the same as you. But tbh you just get so drained from the job that it was impossible to lift. A bigger reason though was that I was literally in the office from 9am till late at night so realistically there wasn't any time. Friday evening, Sat, and Sunday morning are the only consistent times to lift. And even then rlly no guarantee.

I'm switching to dcm tho for full time so hopefully I can lift consistently then

Most Helpful
May 15, 2022 - 7:16am
Bananas_20, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Several thoughts on this one as an ANL 1:

The two most constraining factors are likely to be (i) your team culture and (ii) the unpredictability of your schedule.

(i) I interned at a BB in one of the busiest teams, but the culture was good and a lot of people in the team would go to the gym at 1900, order dinner, and then continue (we had a gym in the building and my MDs and Ds even made me sign up). In this environment, it is generally manageable to keep up a routine that fits your goals. 
However, you need to remember that you might have no control over your evening if something comes up and you are likely already exhausted.

(ii) As I alluded to on the previous point, unless you are lucky and your team has a gym culture, you basically have no control over your schedule in the evenings and how exhausted you are at that time. Therefore, I generally recommend going to the gym before work, so you are still fresh and know you can make it. This may interfere with sleep depending on how long you are working, but in terms of general health, going to the gym almost always beats getting a little more sleep.

In terms of workouts, there is a risk if you are going for a classic split (e.g. push-pull-legs) because you may not be able to go to the gym 6 times a week to effectively execute this program. Therefore, it may be better to implement a full-body program 2-3x a week and then do something else in addition if you have time more often (e.g. I run, cycle or row every day that I am not lifting if I can make it). Because a normal full-body workout takes too long for my schedule, I have adopted a super high-intensity bodybuilding program that my former football coach taught me for offseason training, which allows me to reduce the sets I am doing while getting some cardio benefit as well (not perfect for hypertrophy though, but you have to die some death and I prefer being strong).

In conclusion: You likely will not be able to do get perfect scores for both IB and lifting because the job is just too taxing (unless you're in a chill team). However, you can do your best to stay or become more healthy by sticking to a plan that you optimize instead of trying to maximize both dimensions.

PS: Do not forget the nutrition aspect in all of this, which is difficult in this job, but given your experience lifting you should know that already.

May 15, 2022 - 11:36am
RandomAccountant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ditto to above. When I was in busy season (which is like a typical IB week from what I understand) three days a week with full body workouts was the best. Worked out M, W, Sat, with Monday and Wednesday being in the morning before logging on. Hit the core compounding lifts (Bench, Squat, Military Press, Deadlifts, weighted pull-ups) for strength with a goal of hitting 3-5 reps for 5 sets. Typically finishing up with one additional exercise like lunges, rows, or dips and then 10-15 min of cardio. Depending on how busy I was I missed the cardio and additional exercise. Keep up with your progressive overload for each lift by adding 5 to 10 pounds every 1 to 3 weeks. Also keep up with the protein - I like doing protein shakes and then canned tuna or canned chicken with minute rice since they are both very easy to prep in a minute or two and don't require extensive meal prep time. 

May 15, 2022 - 12:12pm
leveragenjoyer, what's your opinion? Comment below:


Nutrition will primarily be IIFYM driven, with biggest chunk of cals allocated to before bed and protein spread out throughout the day.

My group doesn't seem to be that keen on lifting so I'll have to push the needle on that one.

Planning to use mild nootropics throughout the day (i.e. tyrosine, caffeine, alpha-GPC) to keep the energy levels somewhat consistent until hitting my preworkout later at night.

With regard to training itself, I'll probably use these next few weeks before starting work to train my cardio a bit more so I could minimize my rest periods in between sets, as I almost always was able to afford resting for as long as I wanted in the past.

May 15, 2022 - 1:16pm
Bananas_20, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sounds reasonable. Don't know about nootropics, I usually stick to green tea in the morning and max 1 coffee throughout the day but that's really personal preference.

In terms of the rest periods, personally I have implemented this football workout plan that focuses on strength and endurance (with some hypertrophy and cardio as well) that only does one set per exercise with 6-12 super slow (4-8s) reps that emphasize the negative phase. To keep up the pulse, there are only 15-20s between sets/exercises and that really cuts down the time I need (compared to having to rest 2min for every set of a 5x5 benchpress). However, this is very intense and may not align with your goals, so you should do whatever you find works best for your body and schedule.

From what I read, I would, however, be careful to cut down the rest periods too much. E.g. if you train for strength with 5x5 benchpress, you do need 2-3min of rest between sets for your muscle to recover enough and no cardio in the world is likely to change that.

May 15, 2022 - 1:39pm
Evianstone, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would disagree that getting a workout is better than extra sleep. Difference between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep, maybe yes a workout is better. But if ur at a busy group and it's between 3 or 4.5 hrs of sleep, then choose sleep every time. Sleep deprivation really takes a toll over the years.

May 15, 2022 - 1:51pm
Bananas_20, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry for being imprecise. Yes, there is a balance and I believe sleep is vitally important. You need to figure out how much sleep you need and then balance this with working out. What I was trying to say is that I can always find a reason to stay in bed and rationalize not hitting the gym by saying "more sleep is always better" or "I might not get much sleep in the future, so I should get it now". For me, my overall health is better off with 7h sleep and a workout than 8h sleep and no workout (which may vary from person to person).

Just to be clear, personally, I prioritize sleep and working out, so I avoid caffeine and drinking as much as possible.

May 15, 2022 - 2:36pm
curiousprime, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I have adopted a super high-intensity bodybuilding program that my former football coach taught me for offseason training, which allows me to reduce the sets I am doing while getting some cardio benefit as well (not perfect for hypertrophy though, but you have to die some death and I prefer being strong)

Drop the routine bro

May 15, 2022 - 10:22am
bankingandbodybuilding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is all varying degrees of bad advice. You can always effectively train if you make it a priority. I think the best approach is to continue what you're doing, but potentially break it into AM and PM sessions. The name of the game here is efficiency. You likely have 45-90 minutes of down time during the day you could use to effectively get huge, so the key here is to find a way to use that time without sacrificing your sleep. So try AM and PM sessions like the Renaissance Periodization guys do. For a push for example it might look like 6-8 sets of chest AM- this would take what? 30 minutes? Could probably do it comfortably with 30g protein, 50g cards in the system too, so large time-consuming preworkout meals aren't an issue. Say you bang that out before work then when you come back you hit the apartment gym for 3-8 sets of shoulders, 3-5 sets of triceps and boom 30 minutes and you're golden without sacrificing any sleep. Now admittedly legs could be difficult not because they're time consuming, but they are difficult to break up effectively. Could save those for a day you have the most time in one block or for weekends.It can get done. If you love it you will find a way.

Edit 1: I am seriously amazed at how bad some of this advice is. It isn't awful advice outright, but this guy seems to have a few years under his belt and is past the beginner stage. He certainly has pounds and pounds of muscle on the table still, but it doesn't just get slapped on like it does in your first two years. It sounds like people who have never been serious about their training are chiming in more than anyone who's ever tried to effectively program themselves for years on end. The advice given here is fine if you want to "workout" and be into fitness, etc, but it sounds to me like homeboy wants to try and get jacked.

Edit 2: 1x/week frequency just is not very effective for people who are limited on time, don't have superior genetics, aren't on gear, or aren't beginners. I would also consider specialization blocks if you're super crunched on time and aren't able to get in more than 4x a week. That would look something like a ppl at maintenance volume (or increasing volume through weight or reps or sets if you can manage fatigue) and on the fourth day a specialization of the push, pull, legs or any other items you want to specialize. That way you'd be able to slowly improve body parts as you change your specialization in 6 week (or whatever you want) blocks.

May 15, 2022 - 6:21pm
leveragenjoyer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah, we're on the same boat in terms of training structure.

Specialization blocks will probably come in clutch, i.e. trying to hover around minimum effective dose/maintenance volume on some body parts while pushing others.

Appreciate you guys pushing the conversation. No need to get salty/shit on other's advice too. I've held national records in PL as a junior lifter in my state so programming itself won't be an issue per se. It's moreso the little things that people do to optimize stimulus while being under high external stress (e.g. intense workload/limited sleep).

  • Analyst 1 in IB-M&A
May 16, 2022 - 4:24pm

This is rather good advice -- I heard from ATs before that research concluded that 4x 15mins or 2x 30mins workout is equivalent to 1x 1hr workout. Problem is how do you manage warm-ups? As I prefer to do functional / athletic workouts than simple bodybuilding lifts, my workouts tend to have a lot more activation and mobility work before the actual weightlifting aspect. Warmups and movement prep work take about 20-25 mins and actual lift 35-40 mins. Thanks for the insight though. 

May 17, 2022 - 6:41pm
bankingandbodybuilding, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not sure exactly what you're into, but I think many people warmup too much. I used to be an offender. If you're truly using full ROM (like the RP guys preach) you're going to be so much weaker where you won't have to warm up on exercises forever. Not sure what your warmup looks like, but keep it simple. You're probably not squatting 600+ pounds, so you probably don't need a 30 minute warmup. Find what's essential, what actually "warms" you up and use it. I don't have a real answer here, but adapt your current routine into what you need do the most for a good session.

May 15, 2022 - 10:56am
Don't Call Me a Banker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

When I first started I was lifting five days a week (MWF Sat Sun). Started in the evenings around 6:30 pm and would try to be fully back in the office by 7:30 or 8 at the latest. It's fairly normal to work out in the evenings on my team so ymmv.

In addition to the advice others have posted, I'd also say it's crucial to focus on sleep/recovery if lifting/exercise is something that's super important to you. Would recommend getting a Whoop and learning more about how your body reacts to stressors and environmental influences. I personally almost entirely gave up drinking and unnecessary late nights on the weekends to focus on recovery when I'm not expected to be in front of my computer. Also mostly drink water, try to manage stress, and stretch periodically throughout the day.

It's pretty tough but you only get one body so def worth it imo.

  • Intern in IB - Cov
May 15, 2022 - 12:11pm

Friday - push day

Saturday - pull day

Sunday - leg day

If you are content with hitting each muscle group 1x per week then you can leave your workout regime at PPL on Friday-Sunday. Otherwise, if you want to hit each muscle group 2x per week you could find two days during the week Monday-Thursday to hit an upper day and lower day. I like this structure because Friday-Sunday getting a lift in is very easy while during the week it COULD be difficult. Thus, my PPL on the weekend ensures I am hitting each muscle group at least once per week. Then, having an upper/lower split during the week allows me to hit each muscle group twice permitting I have time. Hope this helps.

Example: Friday - Push, Saturday - Pull, Sunday- Legs, Monday - Rest, Tuesday - Upper, Wednesday - Lower, Thursday - Rest

May 15, 2022 - 5:39pm
CanTrader, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Something that worked really well for me particularly over covid was to buy a few sets of good resistance bands for at home workouts.They take up 0 room in your condo and are great for isolation exercises.

Time spent in the gym can be prioritized on bigger compound lifts that you absolutely need a barbell/squat rack for.

It makes it much easier to squeeze in a workout on days where you're pulling 12+ hours, just before when you'd have to shower anyways.

Check out James grage and other YouTubers for ideas on different lifts. They're definitely not a perfect barbell/dumbbell substitute but it's def worth picking up a set.

  • Associate 3 in PE - Other
May 15, 2022 - 9:12pm

I've always run early morning AM workouts since I started working.   I do an every-other split of push one day / pull + legs other day and superset abs / side muscles in between.  I can get in and out in 30 minutes or so. Do two - three main lifts depending on equipment availability, 3 sets of 4-6.  (ie; I'll do one or two of dumb bell bench, normal bench, incline of either, or weighted dips depending on availability of equipment).    

The trick is to have a gym on your commute, wear gym cloths to the gym and carry a suit bag and get ready for work at the gym. 

Also I'd avoid mentioning that you worked out in the morning to anyone on your team. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 15, 2022 - 10:09pm

Ignore all these beta males - gainz over brains! If your associate doesn't like you pumping the veins while your VP wants the deck turned then just tell that lil low-T pussy to fuck off. 

When I was in banking I had an incline bench press replace my seat so I knew I could always get the set in. 

May 16, 2022 - 8:21am
JamieDiamondHands, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I completely understand where you re coming from. Was in the same spot as you and settled on the perfect workout:
Day 1: Front squat
Day 2: Deadlift

And alternate that program every day w/ 5 by 5. In and out in 30 min. 
You re welcome!

May 16, 2022 - 2:08pm
AcidDragon, what's your opinion? Comment below:
  • Protein heavy diet with fewer carbs than you would typically eat when heavy lifting/working out 5-6x/week to help stay lean
  • Do a 3-day upper/lower split (Monday upper, Wednesday lower, Friday upper; then pick up again on Monday with lower, repeat) or 2-3 day full-body workouts
    • I know you said you don't want to bike to the office...but a peloton at your pad would help during the days where you couldn't get to the gym or need something to get you by
  • Go first thing in the morning if you can
    • This is tough - you really should prioritize sleep if you're getting 5~ hours (on average) each night
    • Habitually lifting on <5 hours of sleep is real tough - it's doable....but man, you are really stretching yourself thin

It's definitely doable to maintain a proper physique you can be proud of. TLDR: eat lots of protein in your diet, 3 day splits, go in the AM before work.

May 18, 2022 - 1:59pm
leveragenjoyer, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Yeah, I would even go as far as to say that extremely subpar sleep makes you substantially more injury prone, which is why so many people here addressed recovery in one way or another (which is great).

And to briefly address the bike ride thing - I didn't necessarily intend to come out as anti-bike or anti-cardio, but moreso to be clear on what my primary goals are, i.e. hypertrophy and physique improvement.


May 17, 2022 - 12:48pm
Nubml, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Would say get a read on your group and plan your lifts around that rather than committing to AM or PM workouts that might be full of your outlook notifications blowing up and calls from your Associate mid-set. Bike at home is huge as well, can sneak in 30-minute rides on diligence calls or similar, have even figured out how to get my laptop in a position where I can respond as needed while pedaling. WFH can also fit in a 2 mile run mid day as well if you plan correctly. 

For example, my group MD has two kids and notoriously is relatively quiet from 6 PM - 8 PM while he spends time with them. VP and Assoc also have SO and kids so similar schedules. Makes it easy to sign off during this period for a session. MM bank so take this for what you will, more laid back tech group average around 80hrs and flex up to 100hrs probably one week a month

My office has an equinox on the ground floor so I can't emphasize enough trying to find a gym as close as possible to the office. I can be back at the desk from the bench in 3 minutes if I need to. Save the longer lifts for Saturday and Sunday. Get in Friday PM and Monday AM's if you can manage and that's a solid 4/days a week.

May 17, 2022 - 2:54pm
WS_Jerry, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I workout around 5-7 and get back to work if I have time. It's possible, but you need to plan around or communicate with your team. My coverage team focuses on our performance and if 1.5 hours a day in the gym renergizes you for more work then go for it.

I think I did this right

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
May 17, 2022 - 3:57pm

For a really busy team or just in general, more realistic answer might be that you always set Saturday and Sunday as workout days being non-negotiable, and then try to squeeze in a workout day during the week.

May 17, 2022 - 7:30pm
BrohanSantana, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It's all about priorities and the people that say you can't achieve fitness goals while working in IB are generally the same people eating like shit and drinking 4 nights per week. Here's my advice for how to do it:

  • Workout at less conventional times - Friday evening is often doable, Saturday is definitely doable, Sunday is great and Monday morning (you can normally get to sleep earlier Sunday night). That leaves you with trying to squeeze in a few others through the week and less concerns about missing a day. My general advice is to hit your core workouts on Friday - Monday morning and leave some cardio or accessory work for the other days
  • Drink less (and less often) - The main interference with Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday workout are people being hungover. Keep it mild when you go out and leave earlier than most. Drinking is extra calories too, so always good to limit those. Certainly have some fun, but remember what your goals are. Also, every night out is pretty similar - you don't need to be at all of them
  • Eat healthy - banking gets a bad reputation for eating poorly. It's all a personal choice, so be disciplined and make the right ones. The expense limit doesn't specify that you have to use all of it (a lot of people overeat) and there are certainly healthy options. I was also a fan of a prepared meal service for lunches
  • Be realistic - Understand that banking is likely only a short period of a long life, so don't beat yourself up if you aren't perfect. It may be challenging to win a body building comp, but you can stay in excellent shape
  • CEO in PE - Other
May 17, 2022 - 8:24pm

Health is wealth. Don't lose your health over 150k savings post tax over your two years in banking. Make time even if it means being middle/bottom bucket. 

May 20, 2022 - 8:08am
elenoreweight05, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 20, 2022 - 8:17am
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