The number one excuse for not exercising is not having the time, but that’s the most pitiful one. There’s always time to fit in a workout. All you have to do is take control of your schedule by planning out what your workout is going to be and when you’re going to do it. It might sound overwhelming now, but it will become second nature once you get in the swing of things.
Evaluate when the best time is for you.
The first step to optimizing your workout schedule is deciding when would be the best time for you to work out. This will depend greatly on what your daily schedule is like. If you have children and are responsible for getting them to school, then it might be best for you to work out before they wake up or after they’re at school. If you work a traditional 9-5 job, then you might want to wake up early to work out or head to the gym after work. I’ve personally found that it’s easiest to exercise before work for several reasons.
Know the benefits of exercising at different times.
First, working out in the morning gets one very large item off of your to-do list before the day starts. It also means there’s zero chance of something coming up last minute to derail your plans. The health benefit of this method is that your body will burn more calories throughout the day, and it’s also an effective way to wake up in the mornings.
However, an evening workout can be the most effective way to de-stress after a long day at work. It’s also easier on your muscles to exercise later in the day because your body temperature is higher, and that makes your muscles more flexible than they are in the morning. Ultimately, you have to decide which benefits are most important to you.
Create a plan that works for you.
The other key to an optimum exercise schedule is having a set plan for your daily workouts. Taking an hour once a week to map out what exercises you’re going to do each day is priceless when it comes to being prepared. Sunday is a good day for this so you can plan them around your other obligations. Schedule the times you’re going to work out each day and exactly what you’re going to do at the gym. You can also lay out what you’ll wear to the gym each day to make the mornings easier.
Don’t try to do more than you realistically can.
With the busy lives we lead, it’s pretty much impossible to log more than an hour at the gym, unless fitness is what you do for a living. Yes, it would be great to have the time to go for a long run and then a solid weight lifting session, but no one has time for that these days. To create a workout schedule you can actually stick to, do what feels right for you. If you prefer 20 minutes of high-intensity work, then do that. If you’d rather take an hour to go through the process leisurely, then that’s fine too. Your workout can be whatever you feel is right for the specific exercise you’re doing that day. A 15-minute jog can be just as effective as an hour long vinyasa yoga class. Pay attention to what feels right that day and not on meeting a prescribed time limit.
Consider multitasking during your workouts.
If you want to multitask during your workout, then make sure you’re doing so safely. My favorite ways to do this are to listen to an ebook while lifting weights, watch a show on my iPad while on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike, or to read a book while on the stationary bike. I’ve found that reading or watching something while doing cardio makes the time go by faster and distracts me from my burning muscles. If you can’t watch a show that you love while doing cardio, try a TV show workout instead. There are tons already created for popular shows, or you can make your own. It’s particularly easy to do bodyweight exercises while watching TV.
Remember that food is essential to your schedule.
Another thing to keep in mind with your workouts is your meal schedule. If you want to exercise during your lunch break, then plan to eat a pre-workout snack before and a small meal high in protein afterwards—same thing for evening workouts when you can easily ditch the gym in favor of dinner. If you’re working out in the morning, then you need to have something healthy and high in protein and carbs before the gym in order to break your fast. Additionally, drink eight ounces of water so your body doesn’t become further dehydrated after sleep. Snacks high in protein and carbs, like a banana and peanut butter, are great for providing the fuel you need for exercising.
Finally, don’t forget that even a perfect workout schedule won’t work if you aren’t committed to actually exercising. You have to make yourself go to the gym if it’s going to work. But also be flexible—sometimes things come up and you need to change your gym time or skip it all together. Be willing to accommodate those things so you can live a life of balance and reduced stress.