Hey there. Long time, no blog. To say that I’ve been busy is an understatement! In the past four weeks, I’ve averaged 60 hours of work on top of 20 hours of French study each week. I feel like I’m back in the finance world again!
Apart from when I had a friend visiting over Easter and was too busy eating macarons and steak tartare to go to the gym, I have managed to fit all my workouts in despite my hectic schedule. I lift four days per week, run twice per week and take one dance class per week.
I manage to do all this as I basically have no life outside of working, studying and training! I squeeze in whatever Paris sightseeing I can, usually in the middle of my commute to and from school.
Given I have a lot of clients and readers who are also very busy, I thought I would share my best tips for exercising when you are time poor.
- Something is better than nothing. Many people fall into the trap of thinking that unless they can commit to a 90-minute workout every day, they needn’t bother. These days, my upper body workouts are 40 to 45 minutes and my lower body workouts are 60 minutes max (I do two of each per week). Even working out just twice a week is enough to keep you healthy.
- Work out when it best suits you. Don’t feel like you have to train in the evenings because some bro said that would ensure maximum gainz. Most people who lead busy lives do best when they work out first thing in the morning and get it out of the way, as you then do not have to worry about work or other commitments derailing your exercise plans. These days, I eat breakfast and head straight to the gym. Whenever I leave it for later, something almost always comes up.
- If you work out after work, don’t go home first. Pack a bag with your gym gear and head straight to the gym once you knock off. If you stop off at home, the temptation to crash on the couch may be too strong, and you may find yourself skipping workout after workout. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but working out will actually give you more energy.
- If you can, fit in a workout during your lunch break. Even if you only have 15 minutes available, go for a walk to stretch your legs. You will return to your desk feeling far more refreshed than if you had simply eaten a sandwich in front of your computer.
- Work exercise into other parts of your day. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee, suggest going for a walk or hitting the gym instead.
- Schedule exercise like any other appointment. You may have heard this advice before and it really is true. I keep an old school paper diary and one of the first things I do at the start of each week is write in the exact times and days I’m going to work out. Barring any extenuating circumstances, I do not break these commitments. If I allow myself to skip days or move things around, I never get the workouts done. You sometimes reach a point where you just have to stop whatever it is you’re working on and realise that you will feel better after having a short period of “me” time.
- Modify your workouts. When I lived in London, my life basically revolved around powerlifting. My training sessions were two hours long and, adding in the 45 to 60 minute commute each way, they consumed my whole evenings/Sundays. I no longer have the time or inclination to spend hours in the gym. Given that my gym time is precious and I don’t want to spend the majority of it resting, I am training lighter with less rest between sets. I am also training in a higher rep range for accessory exercises and supersetting more exercises. Gone are the days of 2.5 hour squat sessions! Bodyweight circuits and HIIT are very time-efficient training styles.
- Reevaluate your priorities. When you compete in a strength sport, it can easily take over your life. It is more common than you realise for jobs, relationships and other outside interests to suffer because of training. Relationship-wise, I have struggled dating a competitor (luckily I trained too, as we spent 80% of our time together in the gym) but I’m also not perfect and have put my own training ahead of my relationships with others. Although training is an important part of my life, it is not the be-all, end-all. Right now I am happy to cut back to shorter, lighter workouts as I have other things going on that I need to focus on.
Do you find that your fitness suffers when you are busy? How do you make exercise a priority?
PS. My internet is down until Monday, so I will be a little slower than usual at replying to emails and comments!