Everyone is busy, especially here in the Bay Area. Being busy however, is no excuse to not exercise. We just need a convenient form of exercise and need to be creative in maximizing your workout time. Many of our programs here in ultra-busy Silicon Valley are built around the concept of personal training for busy professionals. For those short on time, workouts should be convenient, time efficient, maximally effective, and well planned.
Make it convenient
Having a place to exercise that is 5 minutes away versus 45, is much less of a barrier to your workout. This may sound obvious, but it’s a must if you are busy. Even within a 10-15 minute drive there is usually at least a few places to choose from.
What my busy clients do: These are all options that have helped my clients get in better shape: Go for a bike ride or better yet, bike to work. Walk or run from your house around the neighborhood. Set up a small, but useable exercise area in your home. Jog or walk to an exercise location like a park, trail, basketball court, or sports complex.
What my busy self does: When I get busy with work, training outside the gym for my sports hobbies becomes a challenge. So I will run over to a nearby park, do some drills, practice an event using a nearby structure (soccer goal, basketball hoop) or simply my bodyweight (jumping, bounding, footwork), then do some sprints or intervals before jogging back.
Unless I have a client doing some very specific heavy strength work, all my personal training clients do circuits. This could be as few as 3 exercises or as many as 10. It keeps your heart rate up so you burn more calories and allows you to get a high volume of exercises in a short period of time.
What my busy clients do: Their warmup starts with specific mobility drills which blends into specific movements with lighter weights. Then its circuits emphasizing their specific goals of weight loss, strength gain, flexibility, injury management, sports performance, or a combination of these.
What my busy self does: It’s easy to lift weights since I work at a gym, but there are weeks where I only have 30-45 minute segments where I can get it in. After a quick warmup, I complete my heavy lift, then I structure in 2-4 exercises in a row alternating specific lower and upper body lifts. For heavy strength or power work I’ll pick one exercise and still take the 3-5 minutes of rest between reps and sometimes do light resistance work during.
Get the most out of your workout by doing exercises that use large muscle groups and/or combine movements. These can be traditional lifts like squats, deadlifts, rows, and pushups. They can also be exercises that required multiple movements like a step up and medicine ball chop, or a squat and cable row. If you want to burn lots of calories you can do cardio intensive exercises like burpees, lunges, and Turkish Get Ups.
What my busy clients do: We often do 45 minute sessions for busy people and sometimes that’s even cut short from busy schedules. We use a very active warmup of various step ups, lunges, light pushups, and rows. We also keep many of the exercises bilateral (both arms or legs working simultaneously) which can cut the time in half. Use this in a circuit and you will quickly experience how hard your body is working.
What my busy self does: My warmup is quick and nonstop. I start with dynamic stretches at double speed, then do a specific warmup of 3-4 exercises, 3 sets nonstop. Strength and power work will likely be combined. For example: Power cleans then deadlifts, squats then jumps, rows then explosive pullups. I’ll only keep to the big lifts and save much of the lighter/accessory work for another day. If need be I’ll superset big lifts like deadlifts with bench press, but it will have to be a lighter weight. Lighter is sometimes better and much better than missing it all together.
If working out in a big gym, you most likely won’t be able to lay out a circuit of ten exercises. You could just jump on a series of machines with a general plan in mind, but you might spend too much time looking for the next open machine. I suggest picking a few exercises that you can do all in one spot. Squat racks often have other options attached to it like a bar for pullups and hanging raises, or TRX straps. Know that you can do pushups, lunges, bodyweight squats, and planks anywhere. Take advantage of portable items like Kettlebells, balls, and bands.
For example you could do bench press, bench step ups, leg raises on the bench, and Kettlebell swings all in one spot. Or: Squats, pullups, lunges, and hanging raises.
What my busy clients do: Lucky for them, it’s all planned by me :) ! That being said, we still combine exercises that are contained to a specific area unless we have the place to ourselves. The workout also has to be planned so that one particular muscle group does not burn out too fast.
What my busy self does: It’s all about planning the workout. I have notes for specific lifts in how I plan to perform them and what weight/intensity to shoot for. I have never been one to “just get a workout in”. My workouts are planned to the month, week, day, rep scheme, intensity level, tempo, exercise choice, muscle group, and theme (and other variables). Not always goes as planned, but it’s necessary to have an idea of what you are going to do based on your goal.
Being busy is no excuse to cut exercise out of your weekly routine. Many studies have shown exercise to improve productivity and mood which will not only help at the office, but in all areas of life. If you are tired, do a lighter workout. It’s much better than missing one. Thanks busy professional or parent, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read my lengthy blog!
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CSCS, CMT #75123
299 California Ave, Suite 120
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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