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A quick workout

Is a Quick Workout Better Than No Workout?

If you’re someone who struggles to find time for a long workout, listen up!

It’s true that life can get in the way of training. We get stuck working too much, accidentally over-sleep because we’re burnt out and/or have meetings or travel that chop and change our preferred schedule.

Finding 3-5 hours during the day for a bike ride can be challenging to say the least.

When you’re pressed for time, it’s good to keep in mind that a quick workout is better than no workout at all. In fact, if you are training for weight loss or to improve your overall fitness, then sometimes all you need is an efficient 20 minutes spent sweating.

Fact: Even professional athletes encounter hard deadlines, stressful moments, and urgencies that interrupt their workouts. However, what separates the good from the great, or the procrastinating dreamers from the go-getters, are those who are able to prioritize their training despite a tricky schedule.

Still can’t relate? Have you ever slept in rather than gotten up for a workout, comforting yourself by saying you’ll exercise later? Then 5 pm rolls around and you decide that since you had a tough day at work, you’re too tired to exercise?

Well, I’ve heard this script a million times from clients, which is why I wanted to share some really simple ways to make your quick workouts efficient and enjoyable, in and around a busy life!

1. Change your outlook

If exercise is feeling like a chore, you’re less likely to want to do it, and even more unlikely to want to participate in a long workout. However, that’s where simple shifts in your internal dialogue can have a major impact.

Think about the phrase “ugh, I have to train”… simply turning that on its head and phrasing it as “I get to train” will make you feel more empowered and grateful for the simple fact you have a healthy working body that moves the way you tell it to.  

2. Be consistent

A common reason why so many people never reach their fitness goals is simply that they don’t stick at them for long enough, and on top of that, they go too hard too early, and either burn-out or get injured. I would know because I too did this when coming back from injury.

I was notorious for jumping back into intense workouts before I’d performed the required steady and consistent ground-work (aka rehab), meaning I’d often become re-injured or frustrated at not being able to perform the way I did pre-injury.  

The best advice I can give here is to try and operate like a slow-burning candle after setting major fitness goals. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t push your intensity and train hard – it means, prioritize all the small daily steps that mentally and physically prepare you for the big event, i.e. achieving your goal. 

3. Be Present

We live in an era absolutely and utterly ruled by technology, and gym-selfies are so current they might as well be passport stamps proving a workout was completed simply because it was shared with the world on social.

However, learn to see your exercise time (even for a quick workout) as your uninterrupted time to shut-off, because while you are disconnecting from Instagram, one million texts and phone calls, you are reconnecting with your body.

Trust me, your body will love you for giving it some attention and you will feel less stressed by not needing to take the perfect selfie of your abs in whatever lighting is most flattering.

Disconnect to reconnect with what’s most important – you.

4. Up the intensity

For many of us, finding quality time to exercise can be challenging to say the least – but, it’s not impossible, especially if you opt for a quick workout. Swapping out lengthy, time-consuming workouts for shorter high-intensity interval training sessions can be the most efficient use of the little time you have.

Tip: Use your Polar watch to gauge when you’re in the HIIT zone, which is generally HR zones 4+ (yellow/red). That’s where the magic happens.

High-intensity quick workouts are proven to shave body fat faster than long steady-state workouts because they bring your heart rate up high during short, sharp intervals with little recovery between sets.

5. Train in good company

If you’re struggling to do HIIT workouts on your own, then you’re in luck as there’s been a steep upward trend in popularity for HIIT circuit-style exercise classes.

Those bootcamp gyms which are successful are capable of fostering a sense of community for attendees, thereby making it easier for you to prioritise class attendance because you genuinely vibe well with others!

(I don’t know if there’s anything worse than when a gym instructor asks you to pair up for an exercise and you get stuck with a sweaty chatty Cathy who won’t stop complaining about how hard everything is.)

All in all – make sure you enjoy the company you’re in. (And if you can’t go to the gym for one reason or another, why not set up a virtual workout with your buddies?)

To sum up

It’s easy to come up with excuses for lacking time to train.

We’ve become complacent in our ways, accepting the false truth that gaining weight or being unhealthy is just ‘how it is’ simply because we’re unable to face the music and change our schedule to make it a priority. It’s not tough love, it’s us needing to adapt our lifestyle to accommodate exercise.

So, find a style of workout you genuinely enjoy so you stick at it:

  • Become accustomed to the short-term pain long-term gain side to HIIT training and reap the rewards.
  • Learn to switch off and appreciate the mindful relaxation that comes from exercise (FYI, mindfulness doesn’t always involve sitting cross-legged humming ‘ohm’).
  • Shift your perspective by appreciating what your body can do for you and how lucky you are to even have the option to exercise.

When you tell yourself that you’ve got no time for exercise, you’re reaffirming that your mental and physical well-being isn’t a priority. If you want to feel healthier and reach your fitness goals, then it’s time to rejig those priorities. You can do this. No time for a quick workout? I don’t buy it.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too.

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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