I don’t care what it is you do to work out. I’m not one of those judgmental people who harps on others for doing Zumba or elliptical trainers or what have you. In an age when only about 20 percent of people get any exercise at all (and only 5 percent get a considerable amount), simply doing anything is what matters.
And the key to sticking to something is to enjoy it. I do know that many men like lifting, so some of this is going to be specific to the iron. Other more general parts are about maximizing the time surrounding your workout to just get ‘er done and minimize those excuses.
I’ve seen plenty of surveys of people providing excuses not to exercise, and “no time” is always No. 1 on the list. Let’s tackle that with these tips.
1. When it comes to picking a gym, location is crucial
If you’re 20 and the gym is full of geriatrics, then maybe it’s not a good choice. Or if you just want to drop some flab and the closest gym is juiced-to-the-gills-musclehead-central, that also could give you pause. Aside from that, you want to pick a place that is either close to either your work or your home. Somewhere along the route between work and home can also suffice. The less travel time you need to get to the gym from your regularly frequented locations, the better.
2. Consider the lunchtime workout
If you’re a regular 9-to-5-er, consider hitting the gym during your lunch break. If there’s a gym close to your office, great -- check that one out. I did this for years, and it was a great use of time. It wasn’t always fun for aerobic exercise because of the need for a shower afterward, but it was awesome for weights because, unless you’re some kind of tsunami sweater, you can head back to work after a hard iron workout with just a toweling of the armpits and reapplication of deodorant.
This involves eating your lunch at your desk, which means bringing something healthy from home. It certainly beats hitting the Chinese food buffet at lunch. Your waistline will thank you.
3. Get a week’s worth of clothes ready at work
I had a filing drawer that was specifically for workout clothes. I never had to worry about getting my bag ready because I did it on Sunday night. A fresh batch of clothes to last the entire week went into the drawer on Monday morning and then I’d take the lot home on Friday and wash it over the weekend. My gym shoes stayed at work as well.
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4. Warm up quickly and effectively
If you’re lifting, you don’t need to jump on a bike or treadmill before and after to warm up and cool down. You also don’t need to spend a ton of time doing static stretching, which has been shown to actually reduce strength. Instead, for lifting you want to warm up quickly with some dynamic stretching, which is basically a mimicking of the exercise you’re about to do. After that, just ensure you start off with some lighter weights for a set or two and then jump into the heavier stuff.
5. Work out before doing anything else
When you get up in the morning, coffee, food, shower and shaving are going to get you into a mental death spiral of stalling. Have your exercise clothes ready at the side of the bed and just jump into them and get going and get it over with. All your other personal grooming and morning rituals can be done afterwards.
There are supersets, compounds sets or just doing your workout nonstop. Minimize or eliminate those breaks, and you’ll be done faster.
7. Cut the chatter
While at the gym, realize that socializing is a major time waster. A brief hello is fine, but the time spent talking endlessly about last night’s game is better spent grunting and sweating.
9. Commute by bike
If you have to get to work and back anyway, it might not take much longer to do it via bike. You’ll also save on gas, tolls, parking and mental anguish.
10. Scatter bursts of activity throughout the day
Prolonged sitting is bad, so I have a constant reminder to get up and do something in the form of a kettlebell that rests at the edge of my vision, right next to my desk. Every once in a while, I get up and do a hard minute with it just to get up and get the blood flowing. Even a simple stretch or doing a couple of flights of stairs can add to your fitness regimen.
While all these tips can help streamline your workout, realize that being fit is going to require a dedication of time. The average American spends four hours a day watching TV, so chances are you can find some extra time if you really try. Stop making excuses.