Don’t Make Time, Make Changes

February 12th, 2013 posted by Karen Millard

by Karen Millard

What if there’s nothing wrong with your motivation and a lot wrong with your schedule? No matter how committed you are to your workouts, there are going to be times when it becomes near impossible to fit in everything that’s important to you. Especially if you’re a parent. Once you’ve taken time for your children, your job, the housework and a little relationship building with your spouse and/or friends it often seems like there are simply no more hours left in the day… or week. Cheer up! There are ways to fit exercise into even the busiest day. But unlike those who glibly exhort you to “make time” (don’t they make you want to bench press them into the nearest lake?) I’m going to show you how to adapt your workout to fit your schedule, not the other way around. The first thing to remember, and it’s important, is that you won’t lose any significant ground if you skip a few workouts. So long as you remain committed in the long-term, and so long as you’ve put in enough effort prior to taking a little time off. If your life is frantic, and fretting over when to exercise will only add to it, then chuck the guilt-complex and relax. Deal with what must be dealt with and get back to your workouts as soon as you can. Chances are, you’ll enjoy them all the more and put extra effort into them anyway. With that thought in mind, here are a few ways to adapt a workout routine to fit a crazy schedule.

Increase the intensity, decrease the time.

This is the basis of one-set weight-training. With this type of workout, you challenge each body part with one exercise for a single, concentrated set; each set lasting only about 90 seconds. What makes this kind of workout effective is that you choose a heavier weight than you’re used to lifting in order to properly work the muscle. Follow each high-intensity exercise with a two minute rest period before moving on to the next muscle. When times are hectic, two of these workouts a week are enough to build and maintain strength. In fact, with high-intensity exercise it’s more important than ever to allow sufficient recovery time between training sessions. Make sure you take breaks of at least two days. // Set up a weight-training rotation schedule. This could be arranged as a weekly, week-and-a-half or even a two week rotation. Here’s how: For a weekly rotation, you work the chest and shoulders on Monday, the triceps and legs on Wednesday and the back and biceps on Friday. For a week-and-a-half rotation, you work the chest and shoulders on Tuesday, the triceps and legs on Friday and the back and biceps on the following Tuesday. For a two week rotation, even more time is allowed between workouts. Here you’d do chest and shoulders on Monday, triceps and legs on Friday, and back and biceps the following Wednesday. Add a little abdominal work to every session. Although none of these rotations will promote much in the way of growth, all will allow you to maintain fitness levels until your life settles back down and you’re able to devote a little more time to each muscle group. If your problem is not lack of time per session, but simply lack of time per week, you can increase the benefits of these rotations by adding a whole body workout (1-2 sets each of chest, back, shoulders, triceps, biceps and legs) before devoting the extra time to each day’s highlighted muscle groups. When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, you have a number of options. When time is limited, though, you’ll need to decide what your goal is. Do you want to continue losing weight? Or just maintain your fitness during a busy time? So long as you remain active, (see my December column ) you won’t lose any real ground. Assuming, of course, you get back to your regular program as soon as you can. You could try splitting your usual 30-45 minute session into 3 ten or 15 minute mini-workouts during the day. Research has shown these are just as effective at promoting cardiovascular fitness as the longer sessions. (Though I’ve never quite come to terms with the idea of having to shower and fix my hair three times a day!) If you want to continue losing weight, though, you could try cutting back your aerobic sessions to the bare minimum during the week and adding a single, long workout on weekends. An hour or more of continuous hiking, walking, cycling, in-line skating or jogging can boost your fitness and burn off pounds. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s low impact and easy on your joints. The trick to these super-workouts is that while you’re greatly increasing the time per session, you’re also reducing the intensity and you’re only doing them once a week. Aim for about 50 – 70 percent of your maximum heart-rate. This kind of workout is supposed to be comfortable and relaxing. If you find you’re picking up the pace, slow down. This is truly a time to stop and smell the roses! We can’t all be elite athletes, aiming for a personal best every time out, but we can all commit to making exercise a part of our life. And that’s all it takes. That and effort. It won’t matter in the long-term whether what you did today was as hard or as intense as what you did last week. All that matters is that you keep at it.

Karen Millard (11 Posts)

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Cindy Rowe
Cindy Rowe (7 Posts)

Cindy Rowe is the owner/editor of Crazylou Creations blog. On the blog, you will find a little bit of crazy, and a whole lot of fun! As a FT working mother, she still finds time to create crafts, play around in the kitchen, plan parties and exercise. You'll find all of this and more on her blog!

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