I know you’re slammed. Work and life are jam packed with things you’ve got to get done. Meetings, family events, and the general daily “adulting” chores make getting a consistent workout schedule/regimen feel impossible. 

The second you think you’ve got free time to get in your workout, something else pops up, and you immediately feel like you’ve got to get that done too, so the workout gets put on the back burner, and when everything is finally all set the idea of lounging on the couch watching mindless TV in your PJs (if you even have time for that) feels way more appealing than exercising.

I’ve been there myself too many times, and I’m also really good at convincing myself I deserve/earned that TV break too.

I’m going to say something that sounds really mean and messed up. It might even piss you off a bit, but please stay with me for another two sentences afterwards and I promise you won’t hate me as much.

Here it is: If you’re goal is to get in shape but you can’t find time to exercise, you suck at planning and scheduling.

Stick with me for just a second here, (I understand, if someone said that to me, I’d want to punch their teeth in too).

This is not your fault because the truth is most of us have always looked at exercise as something we do with our free time.

The majority of people I’ve trained all started working out in high school or college, when you actually had bigger chunks of free time. 

I know you were probably hitting the books plenty (that’s why you’re so good at what you do now professionally), but let’s not kid ourselves we definitely had breaks of 2+hrs multiple times during the day where we could go to the rec center and get out workouts in. 

This gives us the mentality that getting in a workout is not a priority.

Here’s the problem, now 5-10yrs later (or more), we don’t have that kind of “free time” any more, but we still keep the mentality that exercise shouldn’t be a priority over things like work, family stuff, etc. 

Your health is SUPER important, but it’s hard to think of a single workout itself being more important than getting a super important work task done, eating dinner with your family, etc. Of course, one workout turns into 2 workouts, which turns into 5.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you to skip dinner with your family because you should be on the elliptical machine, or something like that. Instead, I’m going to give you some tips to help you make sure you get the workout in, and still can get everything else done. 

It starts with actually looking at your schedule, figuring out what time of the day things are most likely to get chaotic, and then being REALISTIC about how frequently you can exercise and for how long. 

Be conservative with this, if you end up being able to do more that’s fine, but make sure you set yourself up for success. If you think you can get a workout in 4x a week, but you KNOW you can workout 3x a week, plan for 3 and if you get a 4th in awesome!

  • Audit Your Schedule Every Week

Now that you’ve figured out how frequently you can exercise and how long each workout will take, look at your schedule every week and audit it. Are there breaks of time that you can get your workouts in?

There are? Perfect, write down your workout times into the schedule, and DO NOT move them around. This needs to be treated like any other meeting or thing scheduled you have during the week.

There aren’t? Maybe we overshot how frequently your schedule allows you to workout at this moment. Scale back and figure out how many times you can workout this week, and insert those workouts.

As I said before though, DO NOT move these workouts around. Your workouts need to be treated as importantly as everything else in your schedule. Remember, you’re breaking that habit of exercise as being something you do in your “free time”.

  • Do Not Plan to Workout During Times of the Day When Work “Emergencies” Are Most Like to Pop Up

This has derailed so many of my client’s progress, and I don’t want you to be one of them. I see this mostly with folks who plan to exercise during their lunch breaks at work, and occasionally with clients who exercise in the evening.

Worst of all, is often these work “emergencies” are things that probably could have waited the 30min-60min for you to finish your workout, but in the moment they all feel like they need to get done ASAP. 

If you’re more likely to run into one of these work “emergencies” during the middle of the work day, or often find yourself staying late at work because that’s when they pop up for you, then it’s probably best to try and exercise at a different time of the day.

This sort of goes back to the first point of auditing your schedule, find other breaks in your week where you can workout. 

One of the biggest reasons many of my online clients who exercise in the early morning are more successful is simply because there are less distractions and “emergencies” then. Does getting up early to workout suck? If you’re anything like me, you’ll answer with a resounding “yes!”

Not working out sucks way more though.

  • Utilize Your Weekends or Days Off

I know that everybody’s ideal training schedule would be training during the week, and then having their weekends off, or whatever days off from work you do have.

Cold hard fact, if you’re reading this article geared to the person whose schedule is insanely busy, you aren’t a 9-5er, probably never will be, and that’s ok. Hell, that’s one of the things that makes you so successful, so let’s embrace that, and start thinking outside the lines when it comes to getting in your workouts.

I understand it can be hard to motivate yourself to go to the gym on your days off instead of hanging out around the house or grabbing brunch with friends etc. It might mean that you need an extra level of commitment/motivation to get you going on your days off, I know it does for a lot of my other clients. 

Try doing something like signing up for an 8-Week fitness class/small group training. Hell if you like Crossfit, do a Crossfit class or two on your days off. You’ll know you worked out, the workout will be over in 60min and you’ll have the rest of the weekend to do whatever you want.

Utilize your weekends/days off and give 60min on your days off to your workouts and you’ll be thankful.

  • Time Your Workouts

Time is precious in your world, I get that, and if you lose focus in the gym on what you need to get done, it’s really easy to lose track of time and then realize, “Holy shit, I’ve done like 2 exercises in the last hour, and I need to get out of here.”

Set a timer on your watch for however long you have to exercise, and get in what you can during that time. Just by simply putting a time limit on your workout, you’re more likely to get more done, because you’ll feel the pressure to accomplish everything you can in that designated amount of time you left yourself.

You can also try something similar, a form of density, where you allot a specific amount of time for each exercise you’ll do that day, and perform as many sets or reps as possible within the given amount of time. 

Just don’t let your form go to shit or skimp on the resistance because you want to get more reps in, remember the purpose of this is more efficient time management of your training, not just move as fast as possible with no purpose. 

  • Leave Your Phone Somewhere Completely Out of Sight

This probably sounds hypocritical coming from a guy whose hand and phone have practically melded into one extremity at this point in life. Again though, if you’re reading this looking for suggestions, you’re probably just like me.

Having your phone with you while working out is a HUGE distraction. You inevitably will check your email, work texts, or get one of those work “emergency” calls we discussed earlier. No phone, no distraction.

I know, all your music is on your phone, and you need it to listen to your tunes while you train, otherwise you’re stuck with that god awful stuff they play at the gym.

I get that as well.

There’s not much worse than getting yourself ready to crush a heavy set of deadlifts or something, and Donna Summer comes on the loudspeakers singing “Hot Stuff”. 

My suggestions here is get yourself an old school iPod nano or some other MP3 player and use that instead. You can still listen to better music than at the gym, and won’t have the emergency call/email/texts coming at you fast and furious. 

The gym should be your time. It’s your one point of the day where you can and should be selfish as shit, and make it all about you and your goals. 

Unless you’re some type of essential personnel, nobody will die during the 60min you’re at the gym.

I get that being a very busy professional can make it difficult to exercise with the same frequency you wish you could, but let's focus on what you can fit into your schedule and make the most of the time you have for exercise by utilizing these 5 tips.

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Kim Calvi
08/04/2016 12:18pm

Hi Rob!! Great website! Glad to know you are still kicking butt and taking names....in a good way! Yours truly is just starting to get back into a fitness routine, after taking a four-month hiatus, courtesy of ACL surgery (along with other knee damage that needed extensive repair). Anyway, most encouraging to see you still making sure no gets fat and out of shape! Kim

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