Tell me if the following scenario is at least vaguely familiar.
You had the greatest intentions of hitting the gym this morning before work, but after a few right hooks to the snooze button you didn't get up as early as you intended. Besides, you're feeling a little too tired to workout right now. Plans change right? You'll train after work.
Fast forward to 6:30pm, you've worked 90 minutes late because you had about 20 unexpected tasks you needed to take care of. You're tired, run down, and tense. You promised yourself you would workout, and you're going to make good on that. But first, time to head home for a bite to eat and to relax for a few minutes before training.
As you knock down your shepherd's pie with 'Game of Thrones' on in the back ground you begin to feel your body relax. By the time you're finished eating you've relaxed to the point where it feels like you're sitting about 10ft deep in the couch, and it is highly unlikely you will be getting up anytime soon.
OK, so the workout won't happen tonight. You're probably too tired to get a solid workout in anyway. Push it back until tomorrow and hit it hard. Tomorrow will be different.
Can you guess what happens next? That's right, tomorrow is NOT DIFFERENT. This is your life. It is busy, it is hectic, and it is full of surprises. It's actually beautiful in that way. But it makes it really difficult to get lean and muscular with all these responsibilities sapping your time and energy.
Well, I've got some good news and some bad news. You didn't think I would have started writing this article if I had No good news did you? Let's start with the bad news.
The bad news is you're going to have to suck it up.
That's exactly right. You may not feel like it. You may even need to call a construction company to bring a crane over to get you off the couch. But one way or another you are going to have to make the decision to train, and then go do it whether you want to or not.
OK, now the good news.
It doesn't take a lot of time to make great progress and see real, tangible results.
One of the main reasons people end up skipping their workouts when they feel tired or short on time is because they try to picture themselves doing their regular 60 to 120 minute workouts and just cannot see it happening. With everything going on in your life you might just not have the time or energy to legitimately hammer down one of your usual workouts. What you need to come to grips with is that this is OK.
So what do you do? You do SOMETHING instead of NOTHING.
There are a few techniques you can apply to your usual workouts when necessary which I will break down in just a second. I will also be providing you with a sample program that will keep the progress coming without spending more than 90 minutes a week in the gym. Sound good? It sure does.
Before we get into the program, lets talk about some simple tricks you can use to take your workout from one that will only be done in perfect conditions to one you can squeeze into even your most hectic days.
A very simple way to shorten your workouts so that you can squeeze them into your busy schedule would be to eliminate some of your sets. If, for example, a workout called for barbell squats for 4 sets of 6, you would reduce your working sets down to just 2 sets instead. In this case you could lower the intensity of the squats and do 12 reps instead of 6, which would allow you to maintain the same volume as 4x6, but that isn't necessary. The idea here would be to hit 2 sets of squats and hit them HARD. You need to make them count after all.
This technique will get you in and get you out. It may not be as productive as your usual workout, but it is MUCH better than doing nothing, and if you crush your sets with enthusiasm, you can make progress with these shortened workouts.
Cut Weight and Rest
This method allows you to keep the same training volume as your normal workout, only with less weight and shorter rest periods.
This will change the entire look of your workout, but will allow you to get in, move some weights, and get out in no time at all. Here's what you do.
Take the weight you would normally lift on a big movement like a squat, deadlift, row, or a press and cut it down by about 25-35%. This will allow you to perform the same number of reps with ease, so in order to crank up the difficulty we're going to reduce your rest periods down to about 30-45 seconds.
You're going to burn through your workout very quickly, which gets you in and out of the gym in about half the time needed for your normal workout.
If your goal is strength, then this is not the way to go. You would be better off using the 'cut sets' method which will allow you to work with heavy weights despite the lower level of volume. But if fat loss or general conditioning is your goal, this is a great option, and will turn your workout into a very metabolically challenging session that will kick your butt and won't last too long.
Finally, I promised you a sample program and that is exactly what I am about to throw down. The following is a series of workouts that can be performed as an entire training phase if your life is just extremely hectic on a daily basis. This will provide you with the stimulus you need to grow stronger but I'll warn you now, there are absolutely no bells and whistles. Just 30 minutes of focused, intense work to get you into the gym, thoroughly trained, and back out again so you can continue to dominate all of the other aspects of your life.
If you can train using your usual workouts on most days, but need a quick workout to plug into your schedule on particularly busy days, these will work for that as well. Just pick the workout that most resembles your usually scheduled workout, and go knock it out in 30 minutes.
Here is the plan:
Barbell Squat: 6x6, 90 seconds rest
Incline Bench Press: 3x10, 90 secs rest
Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension: 3x15, 60 secs rest
Barbell Deadlift: 4x8, 90 secs rest
1-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3x10, 90 secs rest
Barbell Curl: 3x15, 60 secs rest
Barbell Bench Press: 4x8, 90 secs rest
Front Barbell Squat: 3x10, 90 secs rest
Triceps cable pushdowns: 3x15, 60 secs rest
Bent Over Barbell Row: 5x10, 90 secs rest
Stiff-leg Barbell Deadlift: 3x10, 90 secs rest
Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 3x15, 60 secs rest
Allow yourself one day of rest between each workout, and rotate through workouts A, B, C and D continuously. You will train 3-4 times per week, and this can be applied as a full training cycle for approximately 4-6 weeks before you should consider a change in routine.
These workouts will provide real, quality results at a fraction of your usual training time, and will make it impossible to come up with a reason NOT to train.