Time Management 101: How to Find More Time to Train

Training can have a remarkable effect on all aspects of your life. Improving physical fitness will make you healthier and better able to cope with stress. You will look better and feel more confident. Your psychological being will be far better off. Training can help make you a better father or mother, a better husband or wife, and it can allow you to enjoy more of the things you love. And yet people still refuse to invest the necessary time.

Much of the training discussion focuses on training and nutrition, but one of the biggest obstacles people have when it comes to training is finding enough time. Time management seems to be the biggest determinant in a person’s success in any given training program.

"By training and increasing physical fitness you are healthier, you are better able to cope with stress, you look better, you are more confident, and your psychological being is far better off."

The first question I always ask when it comes to writing someone a program is, “How much time can you commit each day and each week?” If you tell me you have twenty hours a week and you can train twice a day, I can write you the best program in the world. On the other hand, if you tell me you only have one hour to train each week and can only make the gym twice, my hands are tied. There’s no magic I can work at that point.

I’ve trained many different types of people with varying commitment levels. On average I am disappointed with the amount of time people are willing to commit. So I want to make one thing clear: time is not an excuse. The real issue is usually that a person isn’t dedicated enough or has poor time management skills.

Case in Point

There are 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week, which totals 168 total hours. That is a lot of time to fit everything you need into your schedule. When I encounter a person who claims he or she doesn’t have enough time, we go through an exercise together. We examine where their time is going. Essentially, I perform an audit on their schedule.

I ask a person how many hours they spend at work in a week. For the purpose of this exercise I will assign seventy hours to work. That is a person who works fourteen hours a day, Monday to Friday.

"Training can help make you a better father or mother, a better husband or wife, and it can allow you to enjoy more of the things you love. And yet people still refuse to invest the necessary time."

Then I assign that person eight hours of sleep a night. I don’t ask them, I tell them, because at this point everyone says they can’t get that much sleep (which is entirely another issue I could address). That is a total of 56 hours of sleep in a week. The person now stands at 126 total hours used out of a possible 168.

Then I ask what the hell they do with the rest of their time. I remind them they have 42 hours left. They start shouting out things like, “I have to commute to work,” “I have to go grocery shopping,” “I need to spend time with my family.” I assign them values for these. I give them two hours a day for commuting time, which adds to ten hours for the five days of work. I give them three hours per week to grocery shop, and I give them twenty hours in quality time (without the phone or any outside distractions) to spend with their family per week. That brings their total to 159 hours.

They still have nine hours left to train. Usually the person gets the message by this point.

The funniest thing about this exercise is that most people who say they don’t have time to train don’t actually work seventy hours a week. They don’t sleep eight hours a night, don’t commute that far, and don’t spend that much quality time with their family. So they end up having a lot more than nine hours a week to train. Do you wonder where all their time goes? I have an idea: TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messages, fucking around, etc.

"You have one body. Invest in it, make time for it, take care of it."

If you really believe that you can’t find enough time, then two issues need to be addressed. The first is time management and the second is your level of motivation, commitment, and desire. I can’t help you with the latter. Commitment and desire must come from within. But hopefully I can help you with time management.

Be the Consummate Professional

The first step in taking back your life and freeing up time is to take command of your schedule. Don’t let others plan your schedule for you. It’s your schedule and your life so you make the rules. Your time is the most precious commodity you have. It is the one thing that you can give and never get back. Treat it like it is important. Be dominant and make protecting your schedule your ultimate priority.

Force other people to work around your schedule. When you make appointments don’t ask, “When works for you?” and then get stuck in an appointment that you don’t like or that wreaks havoc on your schedule. Tell them when you can make time for them. Start planning your schedule in a way that allows you to train. If you claim your training is important, then you will protect it. People always make time for things that are important to them, like their favorite television show or a night out with friends. Why not do it with training?

I know a businessman who routinely tells people he cannot meet with them between 11am and 1pm. He also tells his secretary not to take meetings during that time. When people ask, she politely says, “I’m sorry, there are already meetings booked during that time. Are there any other times that work for you?” People don’t need to know he is going to gym or doing other things. They respect the fact that he is unavailable and acquiesce to another time. Job done.

"When it comes to your schedule, be the consummate professional. You’re the boss, you make the decisions, you make the schedule."

Think back to a time when you called the doctor and attempted to make an appointment. You ask to make an appointment and the receptionist gives you a time. It’s usually a few weeks out at a time that works best for them. For argument’s sake, say they tell you November 11th at 10am. You say you cannot make 10am because you have to work. So she advises November 19th at 3pm. You say the same thing and tell her you work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. So she suggests November 27th at 9am. Once again, it is on a weekday between 9am and 5pm.

So what do you do? You say you’ll take the first appointment and rearrange your schedule to make it work. Why do you do this? Because your health is important, and you have to make time for a check-up. The doctor isn’t going to come in at some time that doesn’t work for his or her schedule. The doctor isn’t going to come in at 6am on a Tuesday morning because you decided that works best for you. They will not skip their lunch or stay late for you. You are at their mercy. Learn from this.

When it comes to your schedule, be the consummate professional. You’re the boss, you make the decisions, you make the schedule.

3 Common Time Wasters

There are a few common time-wasters. I will address three here: commuting, people, and your cell phone.

#1: Commuting 

If you have a long commute, do whatever you can to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Sitting in a traffic jam is dead time. Avoid busy times by leaving your home earlier in the morning and/or coming home later.

For example, I have a friend who lives in a busy urban center. If he leaves his home at 7am, he can barely make it to work by 9am. Sometimes he is late. If he leaves at 6:15am he gets there by 7am and has time left to train and shower at a local gym. At the end of the day he does the same. If he leaves at 5pm, he gets home at 7pm. If he leaves at 6:30pm, he gets home at 7:15pm (only 15 minutes later) and created an extra hour and a half in his schedule. He saved almost four hours in his day just by adjusting his commute times. That is a lot of time to accomplish your goals.

#2: The Cell Phone

Most people don’t have a concept of how much time they waste daily on their phone. So do me a favor. Every time you check your phone for a text message or social media update, do five burpees. You will learn fast how much of a time suck the phone can be. I bet most readers waste hours of time each day. The cell phone also makes your other tasks take much longer because it’s a major distraction.

Have some self-control. Put the phone away sometimes. Don’t be so attached. Sounds easy enough, right?

#3: People

You can’t be everything to everyone and you can’t give everything to everyone. There are people (you know the ones I am talking about) who enjoy talking your ear off, ask you for help when they don’t really need it, or show up late to appointments you have with them. Learn the power of saying “no.” Be kind, be nice, but know it is okay to protect your time. Time is precious. Spend it on those who deserve and respect it.

Be Creative with Your Training

#1: Creativity

If there is a time you really cannot get to the gym, then start to get creative with your training. Doing repetitions every hour on the hour can be powerful. How many pushups do you think you’ve done this year? 1,000? 2,000? More? Try doing ten pushups ten times throughout the day. You could do ten every hour or five every half hour. If you could accumulate 100 a day, you would accumulate 36,500 by the end of the year. Not bad, especially since it’s easy. It doesn’t take much to fit into your schedule and you won’t even break a sweat. You could do the same with squats, pull ups (if you have a bar in your house that hangs from the door frame), or lunges. It is incredible how this volume approach adds up.

"Not having enough time is not an excuse. Usually the real issue is that a person isn't dedicated enough. If you are dedicated results will come easily."

#2: Multitasking

Multitasking is another helpful tool. When you watch your favorite show or football on Sundays, do work during commercial breaks or every few minutes, rather than just sitting on your ass. Do you know how many burpees, push ups, and lunges you can get done during a Sunday game? It doesn’t take away from the experience. You could also have an exercise bike in the living room. I have routinely ridden an Airdyne bike while watching some of my favorite programs. This is the kind of thing committed people do.

#3: Garage Gym Ownership

And last but not least, invest time, energy, and financial resources in garage gym ownership. This is my favorite training option in that it has helped me remain consistent, overcome every day time and situational challenges, and make steady progress over the years. You probably already have dozens of thoughts and ideas on why having a gym in your own home would require a hefty investment, lead to loss of space, limit training variation, and require you to endure harsh climate changes throughout the year. Let me tell you, as someone who has been lifting at home for some time now, the advantages to investing and training in a garage gym are substantial. Let me list a few:

  • More Time – You get a lot of lost time back when you start working out at home. There is no more driving to and from the gym, and no more traffic. There is no having to deal with those (insert adjective) locker rooms after your workout. There is no more standing around waiting for that clown to stop doing bicep curls in the squat rack. You know, that metal thing with safeties that are meant for squats.
  • Maybe Even More Time! – Your total time commitment needed to train goes down so much that you may be able to do your workout at an entirely different, more convenient time of the day for you, thereby freeing up even more time for other stuff. You also won’t have to schedule your training around the peak times at the gym. If 6am is good for you then by all means train at 6am. 7pm look better? It’s not a peak time in your own gym.
  • Money – The cash you ultimately save in gym dues is insane. I’ve already paid for all the equipment we have here at the house with saved gym dues money – a full sized power rack, multiple specialty bars, 1,000 pounds in iron plates and bumpers, resistance bands, a commercial adjustable bench, and even flooring… all paid for in a couple years. At this point, every month I don’t buy something new is found money.
  • Music – Don’t laugh, you’ll see. No more (pardon my language) shitty, repetitive (Black Eyed Peas, anyone) pop music playing over the sound system. Pick your own music to train to, turn it up, and no headphones required.
  • Convenience – This goes hand in hand with the first reason I gave, time. Your gym is a couple steps away from your living room. Simply walk thru the garage door and there it is, waiting for you. Got the urge to lift? Go for it! There’s no waiting and no driving; just walk right in and lift.
  • Child Care – Unnecessary! You’re at home.
  • Equipment – You choose your own equipment. That means no redundant equipment and no useless equipment. Buy what you need, nothing more. Look around at the gym next time you’re there and ask yourself how much of the equipment you see is really necessary. Doesn’t a squat work the entire leg? Last I checked it did. Do you need leg curls, leg extensions, leg press, calf raises, lying fake squats, thigh abductors, and all the spin offs they have of each of these machines just to do what a squat does? Nope.
  • No Trolls – Working out at home gets you away from one of the tackiest things about going to a gym: the trolls. There won’t be any of that at home unless you have creepy neighbors, in which case I don’t know what to tell you. I’m male so I can’t even begin to imagine how appealing this is for women to work out troll-free.
  • No Rules – You can use chalk in your own gym, and you can grunt in your own gym as well. You can drop weights in your own gym. That means you can deadlift and drop that loaded bar from a standing position and not have people stare at you, or the gym employee ask you to stop doing those real lifts because they are loud, destructive, or intimidating. You can take your shirt off, or wear those tacky stringy tank tops. It’s your gym, and no one is monitoring you, so do whatever you want.
  • Easier – The whole process of getting your workout in is just easier. There is nothing in the way of you and those weights except your willpower.

I realize there are people who just love the gym scene. Whether it’s a vanity thing, a social engagement, or just so they can update their location on Facebook or IG, or take selfies, there are those who will never leave the gym. However, I think the majority of us just want to get in and get out without any hassle and without anyone bothering us. We want to be healthy, strong, look great, and be happy. This is who garage gyms are for.

Just remember, time is a precious commodity. Protect it and respect it. We are all capable of making time for the things we love. Learn to make time for your training. It could change your life. You just have to want it.

Stay Strong,

Brett Place

References for this article include:

www.breakingmuscle.com