by Robert Maxwell
Everyone thinks they're busy. Some of us really are. But no amount of busyness should keep you from training if strength and fitness is important to you – and it should be. If your life is arranged in a way that makes exercise impossible, rearrange it. You owe it to yourself and your family to remain strong and healthy as long as you can. Exercise is vital. With two businesses to run, a house to add on to and a baby daughter at home, no one knows better than I the difficulty of fitting training into a full schedule. Yet I will always train, no matter what obstacles stand in my way. Does this mean I'd neglect my family for my muscles? Absolutely not. It simply means that training is a priority for me, and among all my other commitments and responsibilities, it will always have a place. If you're someone who's convinced you don't have time to train, I understand your position. For the productivity-minded person with lots of serious goals, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. I've dealt with these feelings many times, and have developed some strategies to help combat the pressure to skip training. Here are my four best tips for getting workouts in when you don't have much room in your schedule.
Make an ironclad commitment to train
No matter how busy you are, there will always be things you make time for. For those of us with partners and children, family should top the list. Productive work is also non-negotiable for most of us. For me, training occupies spot number 3. Any other demands on my time take a backseat to my wife and daughter, my work, and building myself up in the gym. This might seem too simplistic, but I've found this brass tacks approach is exactly what I need to structure my day. No matter what else is going on in my life, I will maintain my commitment to my family, my work and my training in that order. You'd be surprised how flexible your schedule becomes when you commit to fit something in no matter what. It might mean hitting the gym at 5 AM (I've done it), or eating lunch in 10 minutes so you can train. I know lifters with families to support and jobs to work who regularly get up at 2 AM to hit the weights. If you're serious about getting strong, this is the kind of commitment that's needed. It drives me nuts when people say they can't train because they work 12 hour days or 65 hour weeks. Suck it up. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and you're telling me you can't find 30 or 40 minutes to keep your body from slowly turning to jello? Make skipping training out of the question, then find a way to make it work with your other non-negotiable responsibilities.
Start your Days Early
If you're so strapped for time that you don't train, yet don't get up at 5 AM every morning, you're deluding yourself. Getting a proper, early start can add hours to your day. Hours you can use to train, or get more work done so you can train later. The silent hours of very early morning are my favourite time of day. That's usually when I write posts for this site. I also work on websites or video projects for my business. By the time 9 o'clock rolls around, I've already gotten 3 or 4 hours of work under my belt, freeing up time for training later. Not only does starting your day early give you more time to get things done – it also sets a positive tone for the entire day. There's nothing quite like the sense of accomplishment that comes with early morning productivity. If you scratch a bunch of things off your to-do list before most people are even out of bed, you'll likely feel a drive to continue that momentum all day long. It's a win-win. You'll have more time to work, work better, and free up space in your schedule for keeping your body strong and fit.
Make workouts as efficient as possible
Just because you've made a commitment to work out, doesn't mean you should linger for hours at the gym. When time is short, training efficiently is vital. Find ways to get more done in less time during your training and you'll feel better about saying no to other things in favour of workouts. With the right approach, you can get a proper full-body workout in 30 minutes. This probably won't be enough if you're a serious powerlifter, but for regular guys looking to get stronger and fitter, the gym doesn't have to suck back all your spare time. Don't load your program with tons of assistance movements. Concentrate on the basic lifts: squats, bench press, deadlift and overhead press. Add a few good assistance lifts like dips, curls, Romanian deadlift, and leg curls. Rest only as long as you need to between sets. Don't read the newspaper, sip from your water bottle for 10 minutes, or chat with your workout partner. You're not at the gym to socialize. You're there to get strong. So do what you came to do, then get on with your life.
Find Your best time of day to train
This should go without saying, but no two people have the same schedule. Some work days, others nights. Some work from home, others have an hour commute twice a day. You must identify for yourself the best window of time to train. No one can do this for you. For some, this is an easy task. Maybe you've got an hour in the evenings you can use to improve your body. If you're particularly busy, you might have to think about it for a while, and maybe even write a schedule. Even with proper thought and preparation, you might find your workout timing isn't great. Adjust it. If you train at home, try splitting your session in two, half in the morning before work and half when you get home. Be creative. If you start with the idea that your workouts must be done, you'll always find a way to squeeze them in.