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Simple Exercise Routines For Those Who “Just Don’t Have The Time”

Try some of these time saving workouts

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“But I just don’t have time!” – Are you sure?

For a lot of people training and staying healthy is a way of life, they love it!

Equally, there are a lot of people who don’t like training or healthy living, they hate it!

Then there are those who sit in the middle and use training as a means to an end – to lose weight or get a six pack for a holiday.

Wherever you fall in the spectrum, one issue that we seem to constantly fight is the “T-word,” yes TIME, or lack of it.

Now, before we get into the training, you may want to check out some of my other articles about time management, minimalism and stress at work – they will provide you with tips applicable to your life that will free-up some of your most valuable commodity, TIME. Yes TIME is your most valuable commodity, not money!

You can always get more money but never more time.

As Tim Ferriss puts it: “a lack of time is a lack of priorities.”

So before you check out some of our programmes below, take a good, hard, honest look at your life and commitments to see how much time you really have for training. This will not only help you to schedule your training but will also help you in other aspects of your life.

The Training

The first thing to note about the training programmes below is that they have been developed for the regular guy or girl that wants to look good and feel better. They will help you get leaner, stronger and fitter. They are not necessarily designed for competing athletes in a specific sport; although many athletes (if not all) will benefit from a good all round strength training programme to increase their performance if programmed correctly into their current training schedule.

I specifically mention strength training because it is the biggest component of your all round health. This being said, I am not condemning any form of training or exercise that is done safely!

As Tom Furman says, “don’t moralise exercise.”

Before you start any workout programme, make sure that you learn how to complete each exercise with correct form. The best exercise in the world done incorrectly can damage your body.

Need tips on correct form?… Stuart McRobert’s book – ‘Build muscle lose fat look great (2nd edition) – Everything you need to know to transform your body’ is a great guide for training safely.

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This may mean altering exercises that will work best for you; for instance, choosing to use weight machines over free weights may be easier on your body if you are injured or have some kind of restriction.

Please stay open-minded when training and use different motions to improve your all-round physical health. Develop natural movements that are important to you; such as, walking, running, dancing, jumping, climbing, swimming, fighting, crawling; and always consider the impact exercise has on your mental health.

The Programmes

1. One day per week programme for a full body workout

  • Barbell squats – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Bench presses or weighted dips – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Deadlifts – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Seated overhead presses – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Chin-ups or lat pull downs (chin up is best) – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Calf raises or abs work – 3 sets x 5 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets.

1 hour approx. Can be done twice a week if time and recovery allows.

Shorter Version

  • Barbell squats or parallel grip deadlifts – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Weighted dips or bench presses – 3 sets x 5 reps
  • Chin ups or lat pull downs – 3 sets x 5 reps

2-3 minutes rest between sets.

30-40 minutes approx. Can be done twice a week if time and recovery allows.

2. Bodyweight Programme

  • Pull-ups – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Chin-ups – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Pike push-ups or handstand push-ups – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Pistol squats – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Dips – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Inverted rows – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Push-ups – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Leg raises – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Prone Cobra – 3 sets X 60 seconds with 30 second rest between.

1 minute rest between sets and 2 minute rest between exercises.

1 hour approx. Can be done once, twice or three times per week depending on time and recovery.

3. Kettlebell Swings

  • 75 swings to start, with the target of building up to 150 swings.
  • Pick a kettlebell that is demanding for the 75 swings and build on that.

10-15 minutes twice a week.

4. Pull/Push/Sprint

  • Pull-ups – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Dips or press-ups – 3 sets x 5-15 reps
  • Sprints – 6 x 60 metres, all out. Walk back with diaphragmatic breath for recovery (see ‘paced breathing’ in my article ‘Techniques For Stress Relief At Work’ for advice on diaphragmatic breathing).

1 minute rest between sets and 2 minutes rest between exercises.

20-30 minutes. Once, twice, three times per week depending on recover and time.

The Programmes Explained

Now some readers may say that these are not whole body workouts and the volume is not enough. Again I stress that these programmes are for very busy people who truly struggle to get any form of workout in and need to do something rather than nothing! I can assure you that, done with enough intensity and correct form, these workouts will keep you in good shape for a long time before you would need to address any imbalances in your body.

If you watch your calorie intake, keep up your daily activity and exercise correctly, these programmes will provide you with a stronger, leaner body than most of the population.

Pick the programme that suits you and that you enjoy doing. Mix and match them if you wish. Some can be done in the gym and some can be done in a small space at home. Some require hardly any equipment and some require a little more equipment. They are all relatively cheap so there is no excuse to miss a workout!

I enjoy bodyweight training as it gives me the freedom to train anytime, anywhere and it gives me no excuses. Also, being a minimalist, I don’t have to use lots of equipment; although, I do use kettlebell swings on recovery days just to get the blood flowing and to wake me up on early mornings.

If all else fails, something is better than nothing!

Waking and doing ten push-ups is better than nothing and will develop the habit of daily exercise. This is something you can build from.

As Chade-Meng Tan teaches in Tools of Titans – making a simple daily commitment (in our case ten push-ups, in his case one mindful breath) creates momentum and the intention to improve.

For further information on minimal or abbreviated workouts, check out the list of individuals referenced below. They have greatly influenced both my clients’ and my training, offering positive, time saving, bang-for-your-buck advice….

Enjoy and keep it simple, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel!

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