Fitness for the Time-Starved

Fitness for the Time-Starved

I get it. You work 50 hours/week. You’ve got kids. You volunteer in your community. There are errands to run, carpools to drive, and bills to pay. And every now and then you like to spend a few minutes of QT with your spouse, read, catch up on the DVR, or see friends. How are you supposed to find time for regular exercise?

People often ask me how many days a week they should work out. Personally, I work out 6 days/week. (And it’s intentionally 6, and not 7, because I truly believe the body needs a day of rest – but more on that in an upcoming blog post). But if you don’t have time to get out there often, working out efficiently is key to making the most of the limited time you do have to invest in yourself.

Two things to try:Fitness for the Time Starved | EmpowerPF

  1. Focus on compound movements where your whole body is involved in the exercise. And learn how to do them correctly. Squats, dead lifts and military press are among our favorites. It’s best to start these with a coach or trainer who can give you a few cues and immediate feedback on whether you are doing them right.  When done in succession enough of these will get your heart rate up too.
  1. Try High Intensity Interval Training. You’ve only got 30-45 minutes on that rower, bike, treadmill or elliptical machine. Please do NOT spend it at an easy pace. Yes – anything to get your heart rate up is good for you, but if you want the biggest bang for your buck work in some intervals. Here’s what that means:
  • Warmup up nice and easy for 10 minutes, then add in 6 bursts at 90-95% effort for 30 seconds with 1.5-2 minutes easy active recovery between each interval.  You’ll want to make sure you recover enough to make each interval as hard as the first.  As you get more fit and these get easier you can slowly add more intervals, more time, or both.


  • Really short on time?  You can do Tabata intervals.  Named after a Japanese scientist that discovered this workouts efficacy at building a person’s maximum Oxygen consumption, Tabata intervals totals 4 minutes of hard work. They can be done with almost any exercise. After a good warmup, you do 8 intervals of all out (and I mean ALL OUT) 20 second bursts of exercise followed by 10 seconds of passive rest.  After the extremely hard 4 minutes are complete, you should do a short cool down. You can be done with a great fitness building workout within 20 minutes.  This is tough though – so be sure to leave a couple of days between these hard workouts so your body can recover.

So next time you head over to the gym (even if it is between your commute and your food shopping), forget the 5lb dumbells or your steady elliptical workout, and make the most of your 45 minutes.

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