Life is a never-ending barrage of obligations, emergencies, errands, work, social commitments, and more. Finding the time to train can be difficult, especially for people aspiring to build muscle and get stronger.
Think about it for a moment:
What’s one excuse you’ve used to avoid training in the past? Like most, it was probably some form of, “I don’t have the time!” While certainly a valid excuse in some cases, we can use certain tactics to make time for working out and get fit on a tight schedule. Let’s go over five actionable tips.
Make a Point to Have a Workout
Many people approach fitness with the attitude of, “I hope I find the time to sneak a workout in.” At first glance, the way of thinking makes sense because we have to take care of more important things. For example, you wouldn’t ask your employer to let you off work an hour early, so you can sneak a workout in before the family dinner, right?
But, the truth is, making a concrete plan for your workouts is a fantastic way to improve your chances of success. You have to get clear on three things:
- Where the workout will take place
- What you’ll be doing
- When you’ll train
In doing so, “I hope I can train today.” can morph into “I’m going to do a full-body workout at my local gym from 6 to 7 PM today.” Having a specific plan makes you more likely to train because you know exactly what you’re missing if you don’t show up.
Work With What You Have
So, what can we do? Should we give up because we can’t do things in the best possible way? Of course not. We should learn to work with what we have, which applies to three things:
- Available time
- Energy levels
For example, if you don’t have an hour to hit the gym, do 30 or 40 minutes. Even twenty minutes will deliver some benefit and help you maintain the consistency chain intact. Alternatively, you might not be able to hit the gym. While not ideal, you can do a few bodyweight exercises, push yourself hard, and call it a day.
Or maybe you often have exhausting days and rarely feel capable of pushing hard at the gym. Do as much as you can and go home to recover.
Are these compromises ideal? No. But do they allow you to make progress, albeit slowly? Absolutely.
Hit The Gym In The Morning
Look, we get it. Waking up in the morning is hard enough as it is. Getting up even earlier to hit the gym might seem like the last thing you want to do. But the truth is, hitting the gym in the morning can be beneficial. For one, you don’t have to deal with the typical crowd that’s in every gym after 5 PM. Second, working out is a great way to wake yourself up, improve your mood, and set yourself on a productive path.
You might feel a bit weaker initially, but your body will adapt, and your strength levels will go back to normal within two to four weeks of regular morning training. Make sure to warm up extra long and hydrate yourself as soon as you get out of bed.
Do Some Of Your Training At Home
For example, you can remove one exercise from each of your gym workouts, find a bodyweight alternative, and bundle the movements into one home workout. Here is how it might look:
Monday (gym: pull workout)
Wednesday (gym: push workout)
Friday (gym: leg workout) Save and try mine here : (@bene.engen)
Come Saturday, put together a simple bodyweight routine you can do at home for extra volume:
Inverted rows (underneath a table or desk) - 3-4 sets of 6 to 15 reps (alternative to seated cable rows)
Decline push-ups - 3-4 sets of 6 to 25 reps (alternative to incline dumbbell presses)
Bulgarian split squats - 3-4 sets of 6 to 20 reps per leg (alternative to leg extensions)
The above is simply a way to make your gym workouts slightly shorter if you don’t have as and make up for that at home.
Plus, if you have essential equipment like resistance bands, some dumbbells, and a home pull-up bar, your options for home exercises expand drastically.
5. Experiment With More Intense Training
While not always ideal, ramping up your training intensity is an excellent way to condense more work in less time. As a result, you can finish your sessions quicker and go about your day.
One option is to take advantage of circuits. For example, instead of doing straight sets and resting between each, bundle several exercises together and do them one after another.
Bench press -> Barbell row -> Shoulder Press -> Bicep curls -> Tricep Extensions
The above is one example. Go through the list of exercises, take a break, and do another round. It’s important to sequence your activities carefully to avoid overworking any muscle group. If one movement emphasizes your back, the next should focus on your chest or legs.
Another option is to do bundle your exercises into pairs, also known as supersets. Doing so also allows you to do more work in less time. Here are a few examples:
- Bicep curls with tricep extensions
- Bench press with lat pulldowns
- Back squats with hamstring curls
Supersets should emphasize different muscle groups to prevent excessive fatigue and a performance decline. As you saw above, we paired exercises that train agonist-antagonist muscles, but you can also mix:
- Bench press with lunges
- Rows with tricep extensions
- Squats with chest flyes
Get creative. Experiment. See what you enjoy. But don’t do:
- Triceps extensions with tricep kickbacks
- Bicep curls with hammer curls
- Romanian deadlifts with hamstring curls