By Chet Morjaria Breaking Muscle
You love to train, you want to train, but you simply don’t have the time. You have a job that demands so much of your time and energy that you find it hard to get into the gym, and when you do, it feels like a token session.
Note: Having “no time to train” simply means you have prioritized something else over training. It might be work, sleep, family, relaxation, or something else you feel is more important than the gym. I’m not judging you for that. I do it myself. But in those cases, I’m aware that even when it appears I have no choice, it’s still a choice.
I don’t need to tell you how important it is to strength train. You know that already. You just need some strategies to make it happen. I also understand that different people are motivated in different ways. So I’ve put together three pairs of seemingly contradictory advice to get you off your chair and training again.
Write Stuff Down
Imagine if at your place of business no one made note of how much was sold. There’d be no accountability, no goals, no way of spotting patterns and trends, no way of being able to learn based on past performance and make improvements from there. It’s just a nonsensical thought, right? So why do so many people write nothing down in the gym?
Keeping track of goals and progress is a great way to stay accountable and feel more involved with your training.
Without business records, you’d have no way of proving anything to your boss either. In the case of exercise, the boss is your brain. And the more important your brain believes a task to be, the more of its resources it will apply to the task. In other words, the more of your strength your brain will allow you to access.
So by writing things down and proving to yourself you are getting real results, you are convincing your brain that what you’re doing in the gym is worthwhile. Therefore, it will provide you with the additional resources to do it well. Just like your boss.
Don’t Write Stuff Down
Hold on, didn’t I just tell you how important writing stuff down is? I did. But if you’re the type of person who gets so caught up in the numbers that it prevents you from doing anything, then this isn’t a good place to start. You get so disheartened by not being at the levels you were at the last time you consistently trained, that you convince yourself the act is pointless. Before long, you’re sitting back in that chair wondering what went wrong.
“I know you’re busy, so the fact you’ve read this far confirms my original suspicions that your training is important to you.”
Just get into the gym, do some work, and enjoy it. No need to start beating yourself up, in any sense of that phrase. If you enjoy it, you’ll come back. And that’s what we need right now.
Combine Your Time Priorities
You don’t get to the gym because when you’re not working you want to spend time with your spouse or family. And you need to grab that wherever you can. Quite right. But what does this time look like? Watching TV? Maybe sitting in the kitchen, sharing a bottle of wine?
What about spending quality time with each other through shared, challenging, healthy experiences? Get your partner or kids involved in what you do. Instead of excluding them from that part of your life, invite them to join you. Maybe even book them on a starter course.
If those closest to you can stop becoming a reason for you not to go to the gym, and exercise can become an activity that brings you even closer to each other, you’re onto a winner.
Involving the whole family is a great way to be able to stay on track while still spending time with loved ones.
Separate Your Time Priorities
I used to take my diary and tablet device with me whenever I went to the gym. After all, for me, the gym is my marketplace, and my contacts and clients can often be found there, too. Not to mention, if I received a phone call regarding a business opportunity, I wanted to be ready to rock with my schedule and any other resources I needed.
But at some point I realized that even if I didn’t receive any calls, having one eye on work was taking focus away from my lifting. Sounds obvious, right? As soon as I stopped bringing my office to the gym, my training improved.
“[T]ake that drive and motivation you display at work and make some time to get to the gym.”
Now, when I train, it’s gym time and gym time only. Giving myself no choice but to focus on myself meant the quality of my training improved, and that started a positive loop of results. More work and more results in less time appealed to the part of my brain that had previously thought it was being efficient by multi-tasking.
Many of these pieces of advice are rooted in consistency. Consistency is the biggest key to results. So any strategies to help you get to a consistent place are stepping stones in the right direction.
Actually, strategies that provide such a bridge are more than that. Consistency is a journey, and one to which your results are directly proportional. The more consistent you become, the better your results will be. For those of us who work hard, it’s easy to let our perfectionist tendencies get the better of us, where adding a little extra exercise at a time means nothing to us – we feel our effort needs to be all there or nothing at all.
The only thing better than having a great plan is being consistent with your training.
Be happy with an incremental increase in consistency, just like you would be (or should be) with an incremental increase in weight on the bar. Moving twice a week every few weeks to twice a week almost every week is great progress (and incidentally, it’s more than possible to maintain strength through training for an hour twice a week).
Do Something Different
Here’s the pattern. You get yourself started in the gym again. You do the same movements, in the same way, and you settle back into a groove almost immediately. But this is a false sense of security. Instead, consider creating variety within your training schedule. A regularly varied approach has incredible benefits, from giving your body a new stimulus, to keeping your joints healthy, to improving on your weaknesses.
“I don’t need to tell you how important it is to strength train. You know that already. You just need some strategies to make it happen.”
Put it this way. If what you are doing in the gym is keeping you feeling good and getting you results, are you likely to continue? Exactly. Inject some life into your training system by performing variations of your standard movements. Instead of deadlifts, do snatch grip deadlifts. Instead of back squats, do front squats. Test your default lifts again at some point and see what effect these new exercises are having.
Always Make Time for Self-Improvement
Congratulations on getting this far in the article. I know you’re busy, so the fact you’ve read this far confirms my original suspicions that your training is important to you. And I’m guessing you’ve connected with at least one of these pieces of advice. So, take that drive and motivation you display at work and make some time to get to the gym. Remember, not going to the gym is just as much a choice as going to the gym.
Make your gym session time-effective, prove to yourself that you are getting results, and then keep that system rolling. Good luck, and enjoy yourself along the way. Oh, and if your productivity at work doesn’t improve to as a consequence of your improved well-being, I’ll buy you lunch.