When life gets busy, fitness always seems to be the first item dropped from our to-do list.
The holiday season is a perfect example. Between hangovers and massive family meals, it’s easy to forgo fitness, especially when 2017 is right around the corner and you can just start fresh then.
But if you’re serious about making fitness a part of your life, you need strategies that can help you fit exercise into your schedule no matter how busy life gets.
Below are five hacks for getting your fitness in, even when life gets crazy.
1. Make Your Workouts Ultra Efficient
You only need to work out three days a week for 45 minutes a day. Dedicate one day to each of the three compound lifts: squat, overhead press, and deadlift. This is the bare bones workout plan you need if you’re serious about fitness.
If you’re used to mixing in cardio or doing additional marathon training on top of that, you can scale back to just these three workouts when life gets busy, and still maintain your gains.
If you think cardio is worthless, the three compound lifts are all you need.
2. Work Out in the Morning
I know, I hate myself for even suggesting that we should all wake up early, but this is the one productivity hack that will absolutely change your life.
When you work out first thing in the morning, you eliminate the possibility that life will get in the way. Our lives are filled with unexpected traffic jams, last-minute drinks with friends, family members coming into town, and hundreds of other forces conspiring to keep us from exercising.
Working out in the morning lets you enjoy the day without fitness hanging over your head. If you accomplish nothing else the entire day, you can sleep easy knowing that at least you’ve worked out.
3. Work Out on Sunday to Jump Start Your Week
Here’s another pro tip that’s not going to be wildly popular but is guaranteed to make a huge difference:
Start your workout routine on Sunday by tackling your least favorite compound lift.
I dread squat day, which explains why I didn’t squat until recently in my fitness journey. So for me, nothing provides a greater sense of accomplishment than starting off my Monday mornings knowing that I’ve already gotten my least favorite lift done for that week.
Gone are the Sunday night blues and the Monday morning scramble of trying to work out and make it to work on time. Don’t give Mondays a reason to suck more than they already do. Tackle your toughest lift on Sunday — the rest of your week will thank you for it.
4. Front-load or Back-load Your Workouts
I always advocate for rest days between compound lifts because they’re so taxing on your central nervous system, but you can move your workout days around if you’re really busy.
For example, if you’re going on vacation in the middle of the week and doubt you’ll get to work out once you leave, it’s OK to stack your three lifts on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before you go. Three workouts in three days, while not ideal, is better than zero workouts in seven days.
If you aren’t in a bind with your schedule, always shoot for 48 hours between lifts so your body can recover and come back ready to attack the next workout at full strength.
5. Build A Home Gym For Cheap Using Holiday Deals
To help fit exercise into my busy schedule, I work out at home. If you’re like me and your wife generously gives you a spare room to set up a home gym (no small sacrifice in Hong Kong), take advantage of some of those holiday deals to buy yourself a squat rack for cheap. For a couple hundred bucks, you can get a new one delivered to your door.
Working out at home saves you from having to drive to the gym, get changed, work out, shower, and drive back home to change before going to work. You know, all those reasons you use to justify not working out.
All sorts of fitness equipment can be found for cheap around the holidays, but since we’re just worrying about the three compound lifts, your priority can be on a squat rack.
Make Fitness A Lifestyle Change, Not A Time-Suck
Most people who put down “go to the gym more” as a New Year’s resolution spend the first two weeks of January hitting the gym every day. At some point, they get burnt out. They want their life back, and so they give up on fitness.
If you make fitness into this all-consuming activity that directly conflicts with the rest of your life, you’re going to fail. This is why all of the hacks I listed above center around one idea:
Fitness should fit seamlessly into your life.
By keeping your workouts as minimal as possible and figuring out schedules you can actually keep long-term, fitness will just become a part of your life—not an obstruction.
You might still have a busy schedule, but you’ll be in the best shape of your life.
Featured photo credit: Fitness and Health Matters via fitnessandhealthmatters.com