Guest Post By Steve Current
Time warp warning. That was then. And this is now. Life is more complicated, with less time for fitness. But you can still balance kids, career and family. This article explains how, step by step. Download the free checklist here to get back in shape, once and for all.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Back in college, not even the dreaded 8:00 AM classes could stop you. You could always get to the gym later and still have time for your over-active social life. You could even get away with eating tons of junk food and still stay in shape.
But that’s no longer the case. Stuff never seems to go like you planned. Sure, you planned to get up and train at 5:00 AM, your only available time. But:
– Your kids get sick in the middle of the night so you only got two hours of sleep.
– You planned to train on your lunch break, but you were pulled into a meeting and ended up not even having a lunch break.
– You planned to train after work when the kids are asleep. But when you get home the house is a mess and the dog pooped on the carpet where you work out.
You can’t even look at desserts you ate when you were 20 without adding to your love handles. Gone are the days of Taco Bell and Whoppers.
What happened? You grew up. It’s called life. Welcome to the human race.
But if I can do it, so can you. Here’s how.
Tip #1 The Appointment
I’m married with two kids, a couple of businesses and a wife often on the night shift as a nurse. It’s a daily struggle getting the kids up and off to school. I try to find quality time with my wife when she returns from work, while also working on business development. Then it’s off to work from early afternoon to 9 PM…when I return home, eat and go to bed.
It’s rush, rush, rush…all day long. Note the lack of “me time.” Sound familiar? If only there were 26 hours in the day. Bur they’re aren’t. So you need to:
Make an unbreakable exercise appointment with yourself.
Habit change research shows picking the same time every day works. How long should the appointment last? As long as you need it to last in order to do what you need to do. The length will be determined where you are in your fitness journey and what your goal is. But anything more than an hour is probably overkill.
Aha, you ask: “I don’t have the time for my appointment in the first place! I’m already stretched too thin!”
The answer is simple, but you might not like it. Get up earlier.
For most people, first thing in the morning is the one you’re most likely to keep. But once you decide to finally feel happy with your body and live life on your terms, it won’t seem like a sacrifice anymore. It’ll simply be what you do.
Sidenote: Not to be unkind, but if you have time to binge watch House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, you have time for exercise. It’s a matter of priorities.
Tip #2: Focus On Quality Over Quantity
Have you ever caught yourself saying: “Man if I could live in the gym I’d look like him too.”
Or maybe this gem: “Man, that guy’s in shape! He must not have any kids or a demanding job. Probably goes to the gym two hours a day.”
But the folks you see walking around who have the body you want are probably just as busy as you. They just stick to the appointment we discussed.
Have you heard of Pareto’s Principle? How about the 80/20 rule? The idea is 20% of your activities deliver 80% of your results. So find the 20% that drives 80% of the changes in your body. You’ll get back into shape without living in the gym.
Tip #3: Strength Train
Focus on compound movements and getting a little stronger every few workouts. I recommend doing a squat, a hip hinge like deadlifts, chin-ups, bench press, and overhead press.
Getting stronger helps you build lean muscle. Building lean muscle with resistance training gives you two huge benefits:
First, lean muscle is more metabolically active (see this article). This means the more lean muscle you have, the better your metabolism will function. As an example, adding 5 pounds of muscle could increase metabolism by 50 calories per day…when you’re doing absolutely nothing. Over the course of a year, this is 18,250 calories.
And if a pound of fat is 3500 calories? Well, this five pound of muscle could burn off an additional six pounds of fat.
Second, lean muscle provides the foundation for having the “toned” or defined look you’re always hearing about. Unfortunately, the magazines saying you need to do a ton of high rep resistance training are wrong. Getting stronger improves the density of your muscles. Then, muscle itself is the foundation for showing definition. This means whether you’re a 36-year-old guy looking to see definition in his chest or a 40-year-old women hoping to get rid of the annoying “turkey skin” on your triceps, heavy strength training is what you need.
Tip #4: Don’t Overdo Cardio
I prefer to call it conditioning and often cap it at two hard 20-30 minute sessions a week. A hard 20-30 minutes.
After all, you’re busy! You don’t have time to hit the elliptical or stationary bike. Run fast, run hard, then go home. Get it done quick. As an added bonus, keeping the intensity high will blow torch the fat off. Plus you’ll have no trouble keeping up with the kiddos.
Tip #5: Recognize That Compromise Is The Key
Despite your best intentions, sometimes thing don’t go according to plan. You have only 15 minutes for a workout…not 45. So what do you do? Scrap the whole workout? No way. A partial training session is better than skipping it all together. It all starts with a single question, “What can I do?” There is always something you can do to move the needle forward. It might not be what you planned, but it’s something.
You planned to run 3 miles today but only have 10 minutes left in your appointment time? Spend 10 minutes on as many burpees as you can possibly do.
You were supposed to lift weights today? Try doing as many sets of 10 pushups and 20 bodyweight squats as you can in 15 or 20 minutes.
You can’t make to the gym at all? Do this.
– Push Up x10
– Squat x10
– Inchworm x5
– Groiner with T-Rotation x1/side
– Side lunge x5/side
This takes just ten minutes each day. That’s it. To get back into shape, an imperfect fitness routine performed consistently will win out over the “perfect” program done sporadically.
Tip #6: Plan Properly
One of the productivity hacks is planning your most important tasks for the day the night before. Write them down in order of importance. Focus on The Big 5: the 5 things that MUST get done that day.
Making time to exercise should be on the list.
Now, to take this a step further, your workout should be also be planned the day before (if you’re too busy for that and would like some help click here).
Don’t give in to paralysis of analysis. Sitting around thinking about what you’ll do to exercise is a sure fire way to waste a bunch of time you don’t have. You’ll make zero progress because you have no planned way to improve.
Instead, pick a program and stick to it.
There are many people who have already accomplished what you want to do. Success leaves a trail. You need only follow it. So find a program from someone who knows more than you and apply yourself to it 100%.
This will ensure you have planned progressions and ways to improve. Putting that responsibility in somebody else’s hands lets you focus on the important thing: training.
No need to reinvent the wheel. Lift the weights the way somebody tells you to.
Tip #7: Take Action
Knowing is not enough. You must take action. Many people reading this article already know everything I’ve written. And yet they don’t have the health, happiness and fitness the want — and deserve.
Are you one of them? If so, do you want to stay that way?
- How to build muscle and lose fat at home with only 1 piece of equipment
- How to continue to make progress even while staying in crappy hotels with broom closet gyms
- My favorite recipe for soft serve ice cream (yup!) to make you look even better