Struggling to find the time to train? Here’s a few strategies you can use to stay fit even when your busy life is taking over.
Priorities (time jar)
The first thing you need to do to help you find the time to train is to work out what your priorities are. A simple and fun exercise to help you with this is the Time Jar. Think of your life as a glass jar, and what you put in the jar is what you spend your time on. Your going to fill up your jar with 3 things – Rocks, Pebbles and Sand.
Rocks: These are your big things in life e.g. family, partners, friends, work, study.
Pebbles: These are still important to you but if a rock comes up the pebble gets dumped e.g. socialising, sport.
Sand: This fills up the rest of your time or your spare time, these can still be things you like to do but you may not always have the time to do e.g. training, relaxing, playing video games, watching TV.
How you fill your jar can be very different to someone else, a rock for you may be a pebble for someone else.
Take 5-10 minutes to sit down and think about your current priorities (as these can change from week to week, day to day, hour to hour). Write a list of everything going on in your life and roughly how much time you spend on each thing per week. Now put an R (rock), P (pebble) or S (sand) next to everything on your list. Notice how many R vs P vs S you have and where you are spending most of your time (don’t critique yourself just make observations).
Now review your time jar. In general most people can cope with 3-4 rocks, 3-4 pebbles and the rest is sand. If you have more than 4 rocks your time will be running thin and the quality you can put into your rocks becomes diminished (is sitting next to your partner while on your phone really spending quality time with them?). Does the amount of time you spend on your rocks reflect their importance? Remember rocks are the most important things in your life therefore they should be taking up most of your time. Are there pebbles or sand taking up more time than they need to be? Are there any rocks that should be pebbles and vice versa? Where does training fit for you in all of this?
If training is sand for you then you likely only have 1-2hrs/week to train. This is still more than enough time to work on yourself. It could be as simple as 3 x 15 minute workouts per week. It may not seem like much but 45 minutes a week is better than 0 minutes per week.
Now that you know how much time you have to spend on your training, you can workout when you are going to do it. Open your calendar or weekly planner (If you don’t already use a calendar or app to schedule your life I highly suggest you do this may actually help you find more time to train). Have a look through your calendar and determine where you could sneak in some training throughout the week. Now physically block that time out for yourself. Book in a time to train, this now becomes a part of your week.
Most people who find it hard to find time to train have big expectations on themselves – “What’s the point of training if I can’t do all of it”. Yeah you probably won’t become a world record holder training for 45 minutes per week but you also won’t be getting any worse. It doesn’t need to be perfect, something is always better than nothing.
You may also view training as a chore or another thing to do on your To-Do list. Instead of viewing it as a chore that you have to do, use it as an opportunity to get away from your busy schedule. It’s a 30-45 minute break from your busy life, it’s something that you are doing for yourself.
How to create short effective workouts
There are many ways to improve your efficiency in your training. Here are a few strategies you can implement into your workouts to save some time –
Supersets: Pair exercises together to get the same amount of work done in less time e.g. bench press + chin ups, Squats + Push Up’s, Vertical jump + plank.
Circuits: Complete one set of each exercise as a sequence e.g. squat > push up > plank > inverted row > hamstring bridge.
Complexes: These are similar to circuits but completed with one barbell or pair of dumbbells e.g. bent over row > RDL > hang clean > push press > back squat.
Minimal equipment: Using less equipment can save time on setting up and packing away e.g. body weight exercises, skipping, running.
Here are some example programs that can be completed in less than 60 minutes;
Power & Speed – alternate between A1 and A2 once all sets are completed move onto B1 and B2.
A1: Heavy Sled Push x 10m @ 30% BW x 3
A2: 10m Sprint @ 80-90% x 3
B1: Hang Clean 3 x 3 @ 70%
B2: Vertical Jump 3 x 5
Strength & Fitness – Complete 3 Rounds of the following exercises.
Kettlebell Swing x 8
Pull Up x 10
Assault Bike 2:00
Body Weight Strength – Complete 3 times as a circuit.
A1: Plank x 30 seconds
A2: Push Up x 10
A3: Hamstring bridge x 10
A4: Inverted table row x 10
A5: Lunges x 8/side