The pressure of exercise can hit you from all directions and can range from not having the most fashionable gym clothing to not being able to complete a workout correctly. A pressure that seems to underpin most, is time. Not having the time to workout is such a huge failure point that it inhibits our ability to even try.

So like anything, the high point can equally be the low point and vice versa. It all comes down to how you view it. Lets explore “having no time to exercise” and see if we can’t turn it into your ultimate resource.

I have spoken in previous posts about over commitment and setting yourself up to fail. The classic “I’m going to exercise 7 days a week”, or something of a similar tone. Setting a goal similar to this services 2 outcomes.

Outcome 1. You convince yourself prior to starting such a monumental task that you are going to do it. You manage to paint a wonderful picture in which you appear as a professional athlete and your total body transformation will be achieved within the first 2 hours. This serves as huge justification for any mishaps that may go before it, such as a long overdrawn binge on junk food and booze. The sins of the past are absolved as your perfect plan that starts tomorrow is right around the corner. For the days or weeks before this plan kicks in you have a guilt free, responsibility free trip, as the answer is right around the corner.

Outcome 2. You have something to hold accountable other than yourself when the plan fails. With all the will and good fortune in the world a 7 day per week programme concocted by someone with little to no knowledge about goal setting and adherence  is doomed to fail before it sets out. With visits to gyms, exercises classes and the like, the commitment of 60 minute daily workout sessions  is a hail Mary at best. The constructor knows that the work needed to achieve the desired results is way to difficult, but they cannot admit this, so a plan is made which makes them sound like they are super serious and committed. As soon as it gets a little difficult the wheels fall off catastrophically and the blame is shifted onto, traffic, work, busy gyms or whatever. This can be a very repetitive cycle, which usually arrises around new year, summer holidays etc and soon morphs into something that sounds like, “I’ve tried everything but just don’t have the time”.

These outcomes view having no time as the negative and allow it to operate as the single point of failure. The view that having no time is a negative effects everything else surrounding health & fitness and reinforces a cycle of failure and defeat that is rarely broken.

To flip this on its head it could be said that having little to no time is actually a good thing. It allows us to make informed choices and helps impart discipline & ownership on many other things that we do.

If you are realistic with the time that you have you can then be realistic with the choices that you make. Firstly it is crucial to resist the urge to say ‘I do not have any time” and instead use something similar to “I do not have a lot of time”.  If you tell yourself that you have NO time you will automatically disregard any idea or exercise solution regardless of its integrity. Whereas by confirming that you “do not have a lot of time” you understand that the ideas presented and the choices you make must hold some water and be worth your valued time.

Once identified that you do actually have some free time, and I am talking here single figure time so less than 10 mins and most likely under 5 mins you can really start to gain some leverage from your situation.

By choosing some exercises that carry good ‘bang for buck’ such as push ups, squats and burpees you can start to utilise the time you don’t have in a very productive way.

Look to accumulate what I call “easy wins”, such as the first few minutes after you wake up, the first 2 mins when you get in from work and the 60 seconds before you shower. If you where to do some form of consequential body movement during these times and you did that everyday by the end of the week you will have racked up over 30 mins exercise, but you will have done much more.

  • You will have exercised everyday and found it extremely manageable.
  • You will have proven to yourself that it is possible and not the huge task you thought.
  • You will have executed self-discipline which I see as the number 1 ingredient for success.
  • You will have gained physical adaptation so each week will become more productive.
  • You will make better choices throughout the day because you made better choices at the start of the day.
  • You will be well on the way to the mentality I describe as ‘shop like an athlete’. Very simply this means that if you were in the shape you wanted to be your choices of foods whilst shopping would be very different from what they are now. You would find it easier to avoid sugar and processed foods because you see your body and self as deserving of that. The small steps in exercise leverage allow you to get to this point much quicker.

Ultimately will 5 minutes of exercise each day build an olympic athlete. NO, absolutley not. However what that 5 minutes represents and what that 5 minutes does for you is absolutely vital in long term goal achievment.

To close this down I urge you to adopt a mentality of rationality. See your situation as it is, no worse or better, just as it is. You do have time to spare, however little this is you do have it, so use it. Use it to make yourself better. Be productive with what you have, don’t waste it. Be constructive with your time, not abusive, and be energetic with your time, not lazy. As little as 4 minutes each day could easily be the catalyst you have been looking for to move yourself forward. FOUR MINUTES, think about it.

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