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Work/life balance is hard. Work/life/fitness balance is even harder. When things get stressful and time gets short, fitness is usually the first thing to be sacrificed. Ironically, we cut out the one thing that is guaranteed to help ourselves and our bodies feel better.

When work gets stressful, days become busy, and time is limited, it’s more than easy to ditch the workout. Too much mental energy. Too much physical energy. We make a date with the sofa.

But secretly we know it’s worth having fitness as a part of our lifestyle. In a realistic way. A sustainable way. If we’re not all morning people who can bounce out of bed each day at 5:30am and spend an hour in the gym before work, how can we stay motivated to fit fitness in? How do the time poor fit fitness in?

 

Be efficient with your workout

We don’t all have an hour and a half to kill wandering round the gym floor, trying new equipment. Thirty minutes is more than enough. Centre your workout around compound exercises: those that work multiple muscle groups at one time.

It’s more than possible to get a full body workout done with no more than 4-5 exercises. A handy little formula is:

  • 5 mins warm up.
  • 4 sets of 5 exercises with 10 reps each.
  • 5 mins cool down.

Embrace the intervals. You can maximise your workout efficiency by working to a set amount of time. Only got 20 minutes? Not a problem:

  • 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off. That’s a minute.
  • Repeat 4 times then take a full minute rest. That’s 5 minutes.
  • Do this with 4 different exercises. That’s 20 minutes.

 

Make it a part of your day

Combine your workout with something else that you need to do that day. Come at it with a two birds one stone kind of approach. By running to work, you conquer a morning workout and a commute in one go. Been meaning to catch up with a friend? Turn that coffee date into a spin class. Need to brainstorm something with a buddy? Do it at the bench. It won’t work every time, but it helps make fitness a part of your life and not a pause in it.

 

Work towards a goal

Setting yourself a fitness goal or challenge to work towards is a great way to keep you motivated. It’s a positive reason to work out and keep improving. This can be as big as a Tough Mudder, half marathon or a marathon. There are plenty of fitness events organised around the UK that you can get involved in. Or as small as a gym challenge you can work towards or do on the day. Setting goals and achieving them is a formula for increased ambition.

 

Go in with a plan

We’ve also experienced those workouts where you walk onto the gym floor with no idea what we’re going to do. Chances are, we’ll roam around, get frustrated at how busy it is, try a couple of sets with no direction and end up leaving. Textbook.

And while not every gym session is going to be perfect, having a clear sense of direction for your upcoming workout is guaranteed to help increase your motivation and make it an effective one.

The notes section of your phone is the perfect place for listing down workout routines for when you need them.

Some helpful key questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the focus of this workout? Legs
  • How long do I have? 45 minutes
  • What’s the main structure? 10 minutes cardio, 30 minutes legs, 5-minute stretch
  • What exercises am I going to do? Sprints on the treadmill, deadlift, squats, calf raises, hamstring curls (hip adductors/abductors if time)
  • Any goals I want to achieve? Test your 1 rep max on the deadlifts

 

Schedule it

Being prepared helps to get rid of any excuses you might come up with on the day. Knowing exactly when you’re going to carve out time for exercise is a good way to keep your motivation levels high and help you commit to it.

Start by planning your week. What does life look like? Life comes first. Then you’ll be able to have an idea of where you can fit fitness in. Ask yourself these three key questions to understand what your workout week will look like:

  • How many workouts are you going to do this week?
  • When are you going to do them?
  • What will each workout focus on?

Hack your week. Use Hussle to make your fitness plans flexible. Long lunch break on Thursday? Great, time for the gym near work. Extra time on Saturday while you wait for your other half to get their hair cut? Great, time for a swim in town. Knowing in advance when you’re going to squeeze in a workout and coming prepared will help you to stay motivated, keep your energy high and make life work out.