First off, and I say this with love and tenderness: you’re not too busy to workout, so cut the bullshit. Either you don’t want to, or you don’t know how. If you’re the 1st, each to their own, no judgement. If you’re the 2nd, maybe I can help.
There are many ways to stay fit and healthy with limited time. It’s a matter of priority, and trust me, your health should be a priority. You work so hard to have all these nice things; house, car, holidays, satin underwear. That’s good, but you can’t fully enjoy them if you’re not healthy.
The healthier you are, the better life will be.
You can’t perform when you’re giving yourself a million reasons not to. Excuses do nothing but keep you where you are, maybe even run you backwards. (No, that doesn’t count as exercise.)
“I can’t make it to the gym.” – workout at home.
“I have no equipment.” – use your bodyweight or stuff around the house.
“But, I have no time.” – get up half an hour earlier. Don’t plop down on the couch as soon as you get home, bust out some push-ups. Tabata literally takes 4 minutes. Manage your time better and you will have time.
Staying fit and healthy doesn’t have to mean 3 hours of training per day. Set aside 45mins 3 times a week, or 15-20mins 5 or 6 days a week and during that time work-the-fuck-out. No phones, no Inspector Gadget watches. No ass scratching. Do what you set that time aside to do.
I have a push-up/chin-up countdown circuit that I do at home sometimes. It takes me around 15mins and in the time I do 150 push-ups and 75 chin-ups, plus it skyrockets my heart-rate. More on that later when I’ll give you some actual, real life, time efficient workouts for all you busy mofos.
But before that…
I am not downplaying busyness, or tiredness, lack of time, or stress. All these things play a factor in many of our lives today.
Your health will come down to more than working out, it’ll be managing all these things better. Luckily, if you love this next point as much as I do then you’ll be very happy to hear what I’m going to tell you to do next…
Yes, sleep is vital to your health and performance. It’s not a waste of time. No, you can’t “sleep when you’re dead”. You need to sleep now. Possibly right this instant, or at least very soon.
Napping is my favourite pastime, I do it whenever I can. My ultimate ambition is to have a nap-to-work ratio of 3:1 in favour of naps. I have big dreams. (Nap pun for the win.)
Another quite enjoyable factor of health and performance…
Eating has become a huge fucking issue for people nowadays. People are afraid to eat. Or they just eat shit. Or eat too much. Some people are all these in one day.
Thing is, nutrition does not have to be this overly complicated matter that scares the living shit out of you. Food should not be scary, it should be scared of you, it’s the one getting munched.
There is of course an emotional linkage with eating for many, but I’m not going to touch on that here. What I am going to say is: put some thought into what goes into your mouth.
Energy in vs energy out. That’s what you need to know. If you take in more energy than you burn then you will store that extra energy as fat. If you take in less energy than you burn then you will use your reserve stores of energy (fat) as fuel. Simple. (This must be consistent to see any noticeable change in the body.)
If you have a sedentary job, a slow metabolism, and no appreciable muscle mass, you won’t burn as many calories throughout the day as someone who is the opposite. So eat accordingly.
If you regularly have a donut on your coffee break realise that you have to account for those calories elsewhere in your day if you want to lose fat, either by being more restrictive at another meal or increasing your daily activity. (Let me make clear that I’m not hating on donuts, I love them, but they are a high calorie food that offer little in terms of satiety, that’s why I use them in this example. The same of course goes for all calories.)
Even still, with all my love for donuts, I do question the need for an adult to have one every day. Sweets should be treats, not a regular meal. That’s opinion by the way, if you don’t agree you can tell me to go fuck myself and shove that sugary goodness in your face.
Sleep, Eat, Train
If you can improve these 3 things to a higher level than you do currently you will get fitter and healthier.
So after covering sleeping and eating here are some simple workouts for busy people. Some done at the gym, some at home with minimal equipment, and some that simply require a body, preferably your own.
This first one is not written by me, but by Pavel Tsatsouline, here it goes:
I honestly believe this program could be done as is, just pick a set and rep range and go, but for sets/reps and assistance exercises, Dan John (who is the king of realism when it comes to training), elaborates here: https://www.t-nation.com/workouts/2-times-a-week-for-twice-the-gains
This next one is the one I alluded to earlier and is an upper body conditioning workout that can be done at home only requiring a pull-up bar. You can pick one up to hang in your doorway for next to nothing. Alternatively, go outside and use a tree branch or monkey bars, anything you can hoist your chin over:
Push-ups 10, 8, 6, 4, 2
Chin-ups 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Alternating between push-ups and chins. So begin with 10 push-ups and 5 chins and work your way down to 2 and 1. Do 5 rounds.
What about the lower body? I’ve got ya:
100 goblet squats
There you go. Pick up a weight and do 100 goblet squats in as few sets as possible.
This one requires no equipment whatsoever:
10 rear foot elevated split squats on one side
10 rear foot elevated split squats on the other side
1 minute plank
Repeat 5 times
Unilateral Press 10 each side
Goblet Squat 20
Unilateral Row 10 each side
And another with a barbell for people who like to hit the gym but don’t have a lot of time to spend once they get there:
Front Squat, ramp to a triple, drop the weight accordingly and do 4×8
Bench Press, ramp to a triple, drop the weight accordingly and do 4×8
Trap-bar Deadlift, ramp to a triple, drop the weight accordingly and do 4×8
TRX Inverted Row 3×8
These programmes are nothing fancy, there’s no periodization, no accumulation blocks, no bosu ball back-flips. What there is, is no-nonsense workouts for busy people. If you train hard at them you will see improvements in your fitness. Every training programme, no matter how basic or extravagant, is only as good as your execution of it. Approach any of these workouts with focus, precision, and intent and they will change your body. Half-ass them and they won’t. Consistency is key. Stick at it. And warm-up beforehand, just because I haven’t typed a warm-up doesn’t mean don’t do it, that should be a given.
Oh, and drink water,
Life Performance Training