How to Get Fit When You Just Don’t Have Time

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Life is crazy sometimes.   We’re bombarded with more and more responsibilities – kids, families, houses, jobs, obligations here, responsibilities there.

I mean, how many times have you flown through a day, only to blink and you’re already falling asleep! I mean, it’s like you never got even a moment of peace to yourself. Not even a moment to do the things you needed to do. Nonetheless the things you wanted to do.

And is it just me, but doesn’t time seem to keep speeding up the older we get?

As more and more stuff gets piled on our plates of responsibility, the one thing that never seems to make the cut is our health. It seems to be the first thing that gets pushed to wayside.

Errands to run tonight? Uh, just run through a drive thru for dinner.

Kids have practice? Well there goes any chance to workout.

Stuck late at the office? Fine, skip the gym and dinner! 

How many times have you looked up and the entire week has flown by and you never made it to the gym?

Man running with a briefcase in one hand and paper in the other, in a rush to get somewhere

Or how many days have you looked at your schedule, first thing in the morning, and just thought there’s no freaking way I can workout today – I just don’t have time.  

We all have responsibilities that make our calendars jam packed. And when the schedule seems full, the easiest thing to cut out is most often your health.

Or maybe you’re a fine specimen and you never let your gym time fail.  In that case, we’ve got 31 tips for how you can be more productive in every other area of your life!

31 Ways to be more productive today

But for the rest of us that push fitness to the side…

HERE’S THE PROBLEM

We get into some black and white thinking about our time and our fitness.

We have to have an hour or we don’t workout at all!

Only a 45 minute break in the schedule? Hell no, there’s no way to train!

And this black and white thinking gets us in trouble. Because instead of doing something, we do nothing. 

But it IS possible to get fit when you don’t have much free time. It is possible to lose weight or to get stronger by using the tiny bits of time you have.

You just have to learn to work smarter and more strategically. Because even a quick, crappy workout is better than the one you skipped. But there are ways to make those quick workouts a whole lot less crappy.  

WHEN YOU’RE SHORT ON TIME, HOW DO YOU GET FIT?

First, let’s put it out there: You don’t have to spend an hour at the gym in order to see progress.

The researchers proved it.

THE STUDY: You know how this story goes – researchers took a group of military men and divided them into 2 groups.

Group 1 worked out like most normal people – in 45 minute sessions, 3 times per week.

army man doing a pull upBut Group 2 did things different – they worked out 9 times each week, but for only 15 minutes at a time. So yep, some days they did two of those 15-minute workouts, but they had to be spaced throughout the day.

The groups did the exact same training, just in different time intervals.

Then the researchers looked out how those peeps improved fitness-wise – they measured their VO2, strength and endurance by using different types of fitness tests – like the 2 minute push up test.

So the big question: does your time and frequency of training change your success?

And what they found…

There was no difference between the groups. Pretty boring, right?

But that’s good news for you time-strapped workaholics.

Because what that means is that you can still get the same progress from breaking your workouts up into smaller pieces. You don’t have to dedicate a solid hour at the gym to see success.

In the case of fitness, it seems that the total is just the same as the sum of it’s parts.

So if you’re strapped for time, instead of stressing about not having the time to get in your car, drive to the gym, get in your sweat sesh, drive home, shower and then get ready for the day – do something different.

Don’t skip your workout because of lack of time. Just squeeze it in throughout the day in little sessions.

HOW TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN

Now, I think there are 2 good ways to look at how to do this: the first is through multiple mini workouts and the second is through a method called grease the groove.

MINI WORKOUTS:

This is what those military guys did in the high-frequency training group. Instead of giving an hour to your workout, break it up into 10 or 15 minute chunks. And give it your all-in for that shorter time frame.

So you’re workout might look something like this:

In the morning while the kids are eating their breakfast, take 15 minutes for a workout. You spend a few minutes for dynamic stretching and moving to get your heart rate up and your body warm. After your warm up, you might dive into a 5 minute AMRAP doing as many rounds of a few exercises as possible. After that AMRAP, rest for 1 minute. Then go for a second 5 min AMRAP, one with different exercises. Then you’re done. In just 15 minutes, you could push yourself and get a pretty darn good sweat going on.   And then later in the day, maybe while you wait for dinner to cook – do another 10-15 minute workout.

Woman doing a home workout with a chair, triceps dips

Of course you want to make sure you spend a few minutes warming up before you start pushing yourself. But even with that warm up, these don’t have to take long.

And just like those military guys, you can see just as many perks from these short workouts as you can from the long ones. Plus, if you’ve got some equipment at home to add some weight, or some boxes to jump on, you’re even more golden!

Simple.  It requires no gym.  No driving.  And no time wasting.  If you’ve got a 10 minute break anywhere in your day – you can get in a mini workout. 

Now the other method of training is a little bit different.

GREASE THE GROOVE

And although this isn’t necessarily a workout people use when they’re short on time, I think it’s still got huge perks for those with booked schedules.  And it’s even easier to implement than the mini workouts – because you don’t even have sweat.  It can literally take just a few minutes.

Man doing pull ups in a door frameGrease the groove is all about taking an exercise you might focus on in your normal training, and practicing that exercise over and over again throughout the day. 

Here’s what I mean:

And let’s explain it with some pull ups. 

In those traditional 45 minute to 1 hour sessions, you might do pull ups as part of your workout.  You’d probably do a high number of reps for 3 sets and then repeat that about 3 times total during the week.  So maybe Monday you do 3×15, Wednesday 3×20 and Friday 5×10.  Something like that.

But in grease the groove, you break that up into much fewer reps, and just do them way more often. So instead of 3 x 15, you might do just 4 or 5 in a row every hour of the day.

The idea of this training style is that you do much fewer reps so each one can have perfect, textbook form. And the more frequently you do them, the more you form neural pathways that improve your body’s ability to efficiently perform that movement. So you might not really be getting stronger, but you’re getting more efficient at that movement.  Which makes them easier and you better at doing them altogether.

So on our pull ups, you only need to do about 40-50% of your max reps, but each one should be perfect. And then you give your body tons of time to recover before you do another set.

Now let’s talk about strength for a second. Strength can increase from hypertrophy, which is that pump you feel, the one that grows your muscle fibers. Or an increase in strength can come from moving your body more efficiently. That’s what Grease the Groove targets. You’re working at making those exercise movement patterns smooth and efficient, engaging your muscles for maximum potential.   So can you gain strength from grease the groove? Yes. Will you get huge? Probably not.

But you can still see progress.

Now why some folks love Grease the Groove so much is because it doesn’t actually require you to sweat and each set only takes a few minutes at most. So if you’ve got no time in your day to shower after your workout (for those of you that insist on walking around life non-sweaty), this is a good way to train, improve your muscles and movements, and not have to waste time cleaning up after.

Now this isn’t a long-term solution to your fat loss or muscle building goals – but it can definitely keep you on track for success when life decides to steal all of your time.

SO THE POINT IS

 Even if you’re strapped for time, you don’t have to let your fitness suffer. You can get in short, effective training at home, at the office or wherever the heck life takes you.  

Woman doing crunches at home in her livingroom

Time doesn’t have to be an excuse anymore. Just squeeze in these short workouts when you can, just a few minutes at a time.

And if you need some tips on how to even squeeze these short workouts in, I’ve got 9 quick suggestions that might help!

  1. Schedule it: Write it down on your calendar or set an alarm in your phone for when you’re doing your quick training. You don’t miss doctor’s appointments when they’re in the calendar.  It’s just the same, you’re much more likely to stick to your workout when it’s scheduled, even if it’s a short 10 minute one in the living room.
  1. Wear your workout clothes often: If you don’t think you can make it to the gym, wear your workout clothes. That way, if a 10 minute break opens up in your day, the kids fall down for a nap early, or the mood just strikes, you’re ready to jump right into your warm up. Plus, already having those workout clothes on can increase the amount you move all day.
  1. alarm clockBite the bullet and become an early bird: If you don’t know if you’ll have time to train today, suck it up and get up 30 minutes earlier. A not-ideal, morning workout is better than no workout. You can even sleep in your workout clothes. Just make sure you spend more time warming up since our bodies cool down while we sleep.
  1. Use your social time: Instead of meeting your friends for drinks, meet them at a park. Do a few sprints, maybe some body weight training, and then go out for a coffee. You can squeeze your training and social time into one. Time saver.
  1. Sneak it into other responsibilities: Do you have to regularly walk the dogs? Instead of just strolling around the block, take them to a track. Tie them up (or if they’re better behaved than mine, let them run loose), while you do some sprints or burpees or jumping lunges. Get in your 10 minute workout while they run too.
  1. Train while watching TV: Let’s be real, if you’ve got time to watch TV, then you probably had time to make it to the gym. But if you didn’t, get your workout done while your favorite show is on in the background.
  1. Have the workout planned out: Before you even know when you’ll be working out, make a plan for what you’ll be doing. Write it down or put it in your phone. Then stick to it. It can be hard to come up with a mini workout on the spot, but if you already have one designed, then you’re much more likely to do it.
  1. Man doing exercise using his child as his weightInclude your family: If you can’t make it to the gym because you’ve got your kids to watch, make it a whole family activity. Take them to the park and teach them how to do burpees. Make it a competition for who can do the most. You can still squeeze in a high effort 5 minute session while supervising them.  Or heck, even use them as your weight! And now you’re being a good fitness role model, double win.
  1. If you still can’t find a single way to squeeze in that little bit of exercise, then you need to take a look at your priorities. What are you really spending your time on that you don’t have 10-15 minutes to give to a workout?? If that’s the case, then you might need a serious overhaul in how you spend your day.

If this is you, then you definitely need to check out the download at the end of this post. Because let’s be real, if your day is booked solid, then you’re not being productive or efficient somewhere else in your life.

There are always ways we can streamline things to make them more productive.  If you aren’t sure how to get started, just download the free guide below.  It’s got 31 quick and easy ways to be more productive today.  And no, these aren’t things that will take you a week to change. It’s 31 strategies to do right now. This very minute.  That can boost your productivity for the rest of the day. 

The goal in life isn’t to be busy.  It’s to be productive.  And sometimes we just need to learn new tips on how to be more productive and less busy.  How to get more done in less time so we do have time to hit the gym for an hour (or two if we really want to). 31 Ways to be more productive today

Download your guide now! But we also want to hear form you! What tips and techniques do you use to get in a workout when you’re strapped for time? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

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