When I was 22, I had time for two workouts a day, a couple of naps, and plenty of time left over to prettify myself for all college-related social activities (doing my hair alone was a 45 to 60 minute ordeal). Working out was everything and oftentimes, my entire day revolved around training.
However, life evolves, as do our priorities and fitness goals. I’m part business owner, dog mom, publicist, trainer, fitness instructor and book connoisseur. Training plays a major part of my life but it is not my entire life. Being one-dimensional does not suit us smart, ambitious women. Long-term success – be it in our personal, financial or professional lives – is a combination of consistent effort in a number of areas: Training, eating well, sleeping enough, learning from books, mentors, conferences, and classes; developing key relationships and so forth. Just because we’re driven and busy 24/7 doesn’t mean we must neglect our training. There is room for all of our pursuits without giving up looking great, feeling great and just plain old, getting stronger.
I’ve whipped up a few tips for the busy, go-getter woman looking to balance life, work, relationships and of course, staying healthy.
Move with intention
Achieving a fitness goal takes intention and purposeful movement. If your goal is fat loss, then doing calf raises while brushing your teeth won’t get you far. Neither is walking into the gym without a plan and randomly trying out a bunch of machines. You’re busy, so don’t waste time doing dumb shit that doesn’t address your specific goals. Get a trainer to do your programming for you if you must, but approach every training session with the same focus and determination that you tackle that TPS report for your boss.
Embrace bodyweight movements
We won’t always have access to barbells, kettlebells and pull-up bars. Having gym toys is a ‘nice to have’ not a must to look and feel amazing. A few bodyweight exercises with anytime, anywhere access include: squats, jump squats, lunges, jump lunges, pushups, dips, bear crawls, handstands, burpees, rolling, skater lunges, pistol squats, single leg deadlifts….
You get the idea.
Bodyweight exercises can be progressed or regressed for any level, goal or intensity. It’s a no-frills, no-BS approach to fitness that you can do anytime, anywhere. Whether you’re traveling for work or snowed in and too lazy to hit the gym, there’s always something you can do with your own bodyweight right in your living room.
Get to know the ‘Big 3’
Squats, deadlifts, bench presses – oh my! The big three lifts are compound exercises that require the most focus and recruit several muscle groups to complete. That’s why they’re excellent exercises for any fitness goal. If all I do in a training session are barbell squats, I’ve done more than the person on the elliptical in 30 minutes has done. So if you walk into the gym and all you have is 20 minutes, then warm-up for 5 minutes and tackle one or more of the big 3 lifts.
Big three lifts aside, I strongly encourage combination exercises for time-strapped individuals. Combination exercises will involve two movements into one such as a renegade row (plank + row), thrusters (squat + press), or a walking lunge with bicep curl. There are a variety of ways to combine movements into one and you can even get creative with it if you want. After hitting one of your compound movements (see tip above), throw in a few combo exercises for your accessory work. You’ll work hard in less time and can rush out in time to attend a work dinner.
Something is better than nothing
I’m a strong proponent of less is more when it comes to fitness, but I also believe that a little something is better than sitting at home doing nothing. If you have
15 minutes do….
5-6 minutes dynamic warm-up
1 minute kettlebell swings
1 minute goblet squats
1 minute plank
20 minutes do….
5-8 minutes dynamic warm-up
3×5 Squat/Deadlift/Bench Press (pick one)
4×8-12 Dumbbell rows, single-leg deadlift, push-ups, farmer’s carry
Rest 30-60 seconds between sets
Given the samples above, there’s a lot one can do in 15-20 minutes using a combination of the Big 3 and bodyweight exercises. If all else fails, throw on your sneakers and go for a run or do a few sprints for 10 minutes.
Get up early to expand time
The most successful people in the world wake up before everyone else to create more time for themselves, and therefore more opportunities throughout the day. If all you did was wake up 15 minutes earlier each day, you will have added 105 additional minutes to your week. That’s enough time to cook a decent breakfast, walk your dog, meditate, make a sale, workout or do anything else you’re usually too time-strapped to do.
Adopt strategic shut off time
Busy people are hyper-connected people. Social media, apps, tablets and a million other distractions come at us throughout the day. Implement strategic shut off time where you’re 100% free from email, cellphones, social media and any other electronic. Studies have shown that the first 30-60 minutes in the morning and before bedtime provide mental and emotional clarity, stability and benefits. It equals better sleep and less stress throughout the day. Avoid using your phone (except to jam to your playlist) when you workout as well (trust me, I struggle with this too). Get focused – it’s just one hour of your day. Your text messages and Snapchats can wait.
This is a short list of tips that have worked well for me during my crazy busy seasons. When I neglect one, I’m thrown off balance and lose hours of productivity as a result. My training also suffers because I’m left frazzled, unfocused or tired. If you’re busy, driven and on-the-go 24/7 there’s no time to feel like crap. There’s no time to feel frazzled and unfocused. But adopting a few strategies throughout the day and training smart will keep your body and mind in check.
Got some tips? Share them in the comments below!