I’m a professional athlete, so exercise is something I consciously build my schedule around. Working out is basically my job - I know, I’m a lucky guy!
For a lot of you, however, workouts are something you need to fit into a busy timetable which might include a job, a marriage and kids. Even with all these factors, however, it’s possible to get yourself into great, healthy shape. All it takes is planning, commitment, and motivation.
Here are six great tips to start you off.
1. Plan Around Your Schedule
Let’s kick off with the most important tip of all.
If you just think to yourself, “I’m going to start exercising more”, then you will do it… one or two times. But then, life will get in the way again. If you have a busy schedule, you’ll never “find” time to consistently exercise. You have to make time. Look at your typical daily timetable, and see where you’ll be able to regularly carve out the time for exercise.
Early mornings are a great choice - you’ll have few-to-none time commitments then, you’ll be full of energy, and you’ll be pumped heading into the rest of the day. If you’ve got family business to take care of in the mornings, then exercising after work is a perfect way to burn off stress from the day.
No good? Well, just take a change of clothes to work with you and get a half hour into your lunch break - what better way is there to break up a day at the office?
It doesn’t really matter when you exercise, it just matters that you do exercise. Find a regular slot for your workouts that suits you, and stick to it.
2. Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition
Of course, the workouts are only part of the equation. If you don’t augment the exercise with a healthy nutrition plan, you’re not going to see results.
I talked in-depth about a successful, goal-driven approach to nutrition in this (***note - link to previous article here***) article, which I encourage you to check out. In short, you need to base your diet around two factors.
Firstly, you need to have clear goals in mind - this will determine the kinds and quantities of food you need to be eating. Secondly, you need to figure out how you’re going to prepare that food. Again, planning ahead is crucial here, and - if you lead a busy life - I can’t recommend meal preparation enough. Cook up a big batch of delicious, nutritious food when you have some free time (on Sunday evening, for example), store it, then take a portion with you to work each day.
3. Know Your Goals
I’d recommend this as a tip to anyone looking to get in shape, but it’s particularly vital when you’re busy.
With time at a premium, you simply won’t be able to spend as long as you might like working out. You need to know what your goals are in advance - gain muscle, build stamina, burn fat, and so on - so that you can tailor the time you do have directly towards achieving those goals.
On a related note...
4. Become a HIIT-man
“But Andrew,” I hear you say. “How can I ever get ripped if I only have thirty minutes each day to work out?” Well, my friend, I’m glad you asked.
High Intensity Interval Training - also known as HIIT - is a lifesaver in this regard. The main principle of HIIT is that you work out like crazy for a short amount of time (10 seconds, for example), rest for a longer period (30-40 seconds), then go all-out again. Repeat this on a loop - taking short breaks every now and then if you need them - even just for twenty or thirty minutes, and you’ll be sweating buckets, feeling like a million dollars, and well on your way to whipping your body into shape.
HIIT workouts are fast, effective, and absolutely perfect for the busy man.
5. Make a Lifestyle Change
Follow all of the tips I’ve listed so far, and you’ll be well on your way to getting in shape. To live a healthy, fitter life, however, you need to make a holistic lifestyle change. You’ve got to make lots of small alterations to your normal behavior too.
Take your bike to work instead of your car. Walk to the grocery store instead of driving. Say no to that extra portion at dinner, or that last beer at the bar. All these changes are minor in themselves, but they all add up.
6. Stay Motivated
Starting a new fitness regimen is easy. The hard part is keeping it going.
You need to find ways to keep your motivation up for the long haul. Perhaps the best way of all to do this is to get an exercise partner - you’ll encourage each other when you’re struggling, and push each other to keep that workout appointment when one of you feels too lazy. In this respect I definitely hit the jackpot in marrying an Olympic athlete… but your old buddy Mike will fill just the same purpose. Community is everything!
If you’re working out alone, set specific goals for yourself that you can work towards. Target a weight on the bench press, or a completion time for your evening runs. It might be arbitrary, but having something to aim for makes all the difference. Plus, when you finally achieve that goal, you’ll feel awesome.
I’m not saying it’s easy to get in shape when you’ve got a hectic schedule; not in the slightest. By taking a smart approach, however, and staying committed, there’s no doubt in my mind that - regardless of your other time commitments - you can still get into the best shape of your life, and more importantly stay healthy.