You know that exercise is good for your mind, body and soul, however, some days are just way too hectic that you don’t have enough time left to sleep, let alone go to the gym or a long run.
Ideally, you want to engage in some sort of physical activity about 5 times a week and your workout can last only 30 minutes each. Alternatively, if you are on a tight schedule, aim for 3 days a week and 45 minutes of training each day.
If you don’t do anything for more than 3-4 days, you just don’t feel the same - tired all day, low on energy and motivation (coffee doesn’t always help).
Let's explore the strategies on how to make your workouts short but effective so that you are able to do it before or after work without the need to dedicate hours to each workout.
Do what you enjoy the most
For some reason, many of us believe that we have to be doing a certain type of training to get the results we want.
To have good stamina, we must be into running; to be strong, we must be lifting heavy weights; to be efficient, we must have no rest periods when working out.
But what if you are not enjoying running or lifting dumbbells?
Rule number one when it comes to the type of training you do is to find the activity you enjoy and do it well.
We will focus on talking about working out in the gym in this article, however, the options are endless and it’s up to you to pick what you fancy:
- Working out outdoors;
- Taking up martial arts;
- Olympic-style weightlifting;
- Group exercise classes in your local gym;
- Joining an amateur football or volleyball team;
- and more.
If you do something you don’t like, you will struggle to keep up with it.
Plan in advance
Once you know what you are doing, it’s time to plan. It’s best to prepare for the training day the night before. Get your gym bag ready, and decide what time and how you will be getting to the gym - by car, by bike, or by walking? Will it be before work, during your lunch if you are working from home, or after work?
Proper nutrition will accelerate your performance and you will be able to eat more food on training days because you spend more energy and break down the muscle tissue which needs to be repaired by eating the right foods such as quality protein, slow-digesting carbohydrates, and healthy fats and fiber.
If you are working out in the morning and are waking up early, try to have breakfast loaded with complex carbohydrates and moderate protein 1-2 hours before your workout (oats or a smoothie).
If you are not a breakfast person or don’t have much time before training - have a banana about 30 minutes before workout to fuel your muscles with glycogen fast and to avoid feeling weak and faint. Follow the same principles if you are training later in the day.
Go to the gym during off-peak hours
Think about a typical person working the office hours Monday to Friday. Commercial gyms are usually busy early mornings before work starts, and in the early evening after work finishes. Hence, the weekends can be great for gym visits.
Off-peak hours, or quiet time will allow you to use any equipment you need without needing to wait for when it becomes available.
Have a structured workout plan to follow
If you don’t know how to create one, hire a Personal Trainer to help you. They will not only give you a custom training plan, but also teach you how to perform exercises correctly and make you motivated and accountable.
It all comes down to doing what you enjoy, so tell your coach about your likes and dislikes and experience level. You’ve got this!
Don’t waste time on your phone
Easier said than done - we know! However, if you leave your phone in the locker or at home, you will be less distracted and won’t be taking long rest periods because of “Facebook messages or urgent work phone calls”. You will eventually realize that you don’t need your phone on the gym floor (apart from when you are using it for music).
Listen to your favourite music
Many people listen to music in the gym to help them focus and get distracted from fatigue and discomfort. There is no one best music style to listen to as it depends on each individual’s preferences, however, a study from 2020 found that listening to high-energy music makes hard exercise easier by reducing the perceived effort, thus making you push harder, enjoy it more and get better results.
Go to a group exercise class
Upbeat music is one of the reasons some of us love group classes so much. We love the atmosphere of a busy class and the 110% effort from everyone. Each class typically lasts from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on what you are doing.
If you need a quick fix, sign up for a HIIT class. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and is a short but intense workout with minimum rest between exercises. Among other benefits, HIIT is:
- Works full body and targets different muscles;
- It involves cardio and strength training at the same time (perfect for busy people);
Have a cup of coffee 30-40 minutes before your workout
Love coffee? Drink it before training for a mental boost. Caffeine is a stimulant that “wakes you up” and increases alertness. Once caffeine kicks in, you feel the difference and are ready to be the best version of yourself when training.
You could also take a pre-workout shot which contains caffeine, or just a caffeine pill which is really effective (if you don’t drink much coffee everyday) and cheap.
Do you have any other strategies we’ve not mentioned? Let us know!