How long do you have to work out to see results? That question comes up almost daily, and my stock replay is usually, “What time do you have?”

Many of my colleagues, however, jump immediately to “one hour a day, three days a week.”

But this may not be the best answer. Why? Let’s walk through what usually happens next…

It’s About Time
When you say “one hour, three days a week,” many people will respond that they can’t spare one scheduled hour three days a week. In other words, they are saying “I don’t have that kind of time.”

Inevitably, the next words are “you have to make time,” or “if it were important to you, you would find the time.” These inspirational axioms might look nice painted on the gym wall or in a meme, but one thing that has become clear to me over the years is that they aren’t always realistic.

You see, for all of us, life happens, and sometimes our best intentions go unfulfilled or even obliterated. Then, what follows, is a burden of guilt for missing a workout…a sense of disappointment from disappointing our trainers and workout buddies…or one more mark in our permanent record that “proves” we aren’t meant to be fit.

That’s why broad generalizations and rules are hard for me to accept when it comes to someone’s health and fitness. I understand the need for guidelines and recommendations, but for some reason, everything changes when we add the word “workout” to a commitment. Suddenly battle lines are drawn between fitness professionals who still have the magic 60minute workout engrained in their heads and everything else in a person’s life. So let me state it as clearly and succinctly as I can…

There is no magic in the 60-minute per day, three days per week workout.

The Magic of Moving
For example, the other day, I was talking to a member about setting aside time for a workout. She’s a wife, mother and business owner. As you can imagine, it can be tough for her to spend an hour in the gym three times a week. She’s been struggling, the holidays have just ended, and life has picked up again even busier than before.

She told me about a day the previous week when she came to the gym and was running late. She told a coach she only had twenty minutes for her workout and asked if she should even bother getting started. Thankfully, my coach knew that you could accomplish an awful lot in a twenty-minute workout if you know what to do. She stayed, had a twenty-minute workout and won the day!.

This short session was a massive victory for her for a couple of reasons:

  • It was effective. I’ve mentioned before that we have systems. A system is like a recipe for a soup, you can follow it perfectly if you have all of the ingredients, but sometimes you’ve got to adjust if you are missing something. An exercise program is nothing more than a system designed with an outcome in mind. My coaches know how to make adjustments and deliver the best experience possible when time gets cut short. Speaking from experience, some of my favorite workouts are short. In fact, I posted a series a while back that outlined my Big 4 method for designing great workouts that only take twenty to thirty minutes.
  • She had an emotional victory, which, in my mind, was the biggest win. She smiled when she told me she was proud of herself for getting it done and not skipping another day because something “suddenly came up.” Something ALWAYS comes up, and if you are into your fitness and health for the long haul, you’d better figure out how to overcome these obstacles. I’m confident that this experience will help her stay dedicated to exercising as other challenges pop up.

So the next time you are pressed for time and are asking yourself if you have time for a workout try asking yourself instead if you have even a little time to take care of yourself physically and mentally?

The answer seems clear to me. How about you?

–Coach Brad

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