Finding the time to workout is a struggle that is heard all too often. I was up at zero dark thirty, a.k.a. 0430 hours (4:30 am for you non-military folk) to get ready for work this morning. It takes me roughly 40 minutes to get to work. I then worked until 1700 (5:00 pm) and it took me an hour to get home due to traffic and your normal driving annoyances (apparently every red light loves me), putting me back home at just after 1800 (6:00 pm). Needless to say, not only was I having a hard time staying awake driving home, but I was also exhausted when I walked in the door.
Tomorrow I have to be up at 0330 to be to work at 0500. I don’t know about you, but I NEED sleep. My entire day is rough if I don’t get at least 5 to 6 hours of sleep, but 8 is definitely preferred. So, against my personal desires, I made the decision to skip the gym tonight. If I didn’t, I’d be getting home from the gym around 8 pm, eat a quick easy (and probably not super healthy) dinner, and in bed by 9:30 if I’m lucky.
Sleep is as equally (if not more than) important as working out when it comes to your health and physical fitness. Your body doesn’t actually build muscle or lose fat while your awake. The entire process happens while you’re sleeping, and if you’re not getting adequate amounts of sleep, you could be wasting valuable time in the gym by not allowing your body to fully utilize your workouts.
Finding the time to workout can be difficult when you’re always on the go. So how do you find time to workout when you feel like you just don’t have time? Here’s some things that I personally do to help maximize my time and help get the most of the workouts that I am able to get in:
1) Switch Your Days Around
Most workout plans incorporate a few rest days. Just like sleep, rest days are also equally important in any dynamic workout routine. Your body needs rest in order to rejuvenate itself. With that being said, if you just CAN’T make it to the gym today, make today your rest day which would otherwise be tomorrow, or the next day. Then replace your original rest day with the workout you were supposed to do today. It’s definitely ideal to stick to a specific weekly regiment, but life gets in the way. That doesn’t mean that your workouts have to suffer because of it.
2) Workout at Work
Finding the time to workout at work isn’t possible for everyone. However, if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s able to take breaks throughout the day, use those breaks to your advantage. I have several coworkers who take 3 or 4 fifteen minute smoke breaks throughout the work day. So, I decided if they can take smoke breaks, I can take workout breaks. Whenever it’s one of those days like today where I know getting to the gym is going to be a struggle, I’ll sneak in “Hotel Workouts” throughout my day.
These can be as simple as doing several sets of push-ups, performing several sets of sit-ups, and even changing them up a bit. You can use your desk (if you have one) to do incline push-ups, or do diamond push-ups to workout your triceps. Bring dumbbells to work that you can leave in your office to get some bicep workouts in. Doing a quick Google search for Calisthenic Workouts can give you some great ideas on what you can do with just your body alone.
3) Take Advantage of Your Lunch Break
Again, another option that might not be available to everyone depending on where you work, how long your lunch break is, and where your gym is located in comparison to your job. For those of you who have a gym close by to your work location, go to the gym during lunch. We are given an hour for lunch every day, and
being a military member, I have several gyms on base. I know I’m one of the more fortunate ones, but there are gyms everywhere nowadays. As much as I’m not a fan of Planet Fitness due to their overly
discriminatory nature despite their slogan, for what I think is $10 a month, you can have access to countless locations. It’s good enough to get a workout in when time is tight and you need a close place to go.
Sometimes I’ll eat my lunch throughout the day while I’m actually working simultaneously (if it’s a “work on the computer” type of day), then I’ll use my lunch break to go get a quick workout in. It’s a common misconception that workouts have to be long. Studies have shown that getting in a good 40 minute workout is as equally effective as getting in an hour and a half workout. Besides, anything is better than nothing. Obviously if you only get 30 minutes for lunch, then this option is a bit difficult to do. Go for a 20 minute run instead!
That leads me to my final suggestion…
4) Time Your Workouts…Literally
I used to have a horrible habit of spending too much time playing on my phone in between sets. This caused my workouts to last WAY longer than they needed to. When I began my cutting phase last week, I decided my workouts were going to be shorter and more intense. It helps that I went from doing 4 sets per workout to 3 sets per workout, while increasing my reps. However, I wanted to guarantee that it would also cut my workout times down.
To ensure I could continue finding the time to get my workouts in even when my day seemed like I wouldn’t have the time, I decided to start literally timing my workouts. Now, instead of playing on my phone in between sets, I have my clock running a timer. I set a goal to spend no more than 4 minutes on each exercises, taking 45 second breaks in between each set. Once the exercises is complete, I immediately move onto my next exercise. This has drastically cut my overall workout times down to about 45 minutes per session.
I will always push people to get their workouts in even when they say they don’t have time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean by sacrificing your sleep. It just means find places to get the workouts in where you can.
Hopefully these tips will help you keep up with your fitness goals, even when it feels like finding the time to meet your goals is an impossible task.