What do you think of when you consider the word “efficient”? Japanese high-speed trains arriving within seconds of schedule; German cars running forever and always starting first time; or multi-tasking to maximise the most of your limited training time? I believe that despite being time-poor and stressed from hectic schedules, most of us have the capacity to be more efficient in life, to accommodate a little more exercise and ultimately be healthier.
I will share some of my top tips for organising and achieving all of the realistic training aspirations you have:
1. Get prepared
Every night, do as much as you can to prepare for training the next day:
- lay your gym kit out (I know a guy who sleeps in it so he can roll out of bed with no excuses!)
- check the weather forecast and adapt accordingly!
- make your food after dinner (less likely to over-pack as full from dinner or be forced to buy an unhealthy option at work)
- know the aim(s) or content of your session
2. Maximise the commute/family trip to XYZ
You live 20 miles from your office? So what, drive part way and cycle/run the rest when the light permits. You will feel great (and smug) having self-propelled to work, and you will be more productive. I advise an easy aerobic morning session backed up with a more intense ride or run home after work, when you reach your circadian peak.
On the weekend, arrange to meet your family at (or partway to) the destination. Get your miles in this way, hopefully exploring some new routes and roads safe in the knowledge that you have a support wagon to sweep you up!
3. Embrace the “brick”
Think of how much time we spend traveling, showering, warming up/down and “milling” around the water-cooler/squat rack/poolside. Combine 2 sessions back-to-back if time is tight, or you missed a previous session. My favourites are:
- The classic bike >run (or turbo > treadmill) brick: yes, it’s okay to run in padded cycle shorts!
- Core training > run sprints
- Strength training > swim easy/technique
- Yoga/stretching/rolling > easy run or cycle
4. Cut out the “chaff”
Yes, high-intensity workouts are all the rage but…if you want to burn fat, get fitter or faster or get the greatest training response, then HIIT is the answer. Doing long, slow miles will prepare you for that: being slow at one speed. You need to have a range of gears and you must constantly challenge the body as it adapts so readily; pushing into your red zone 2-3 times per week does this. My advice is keep the long sessions for the weekend, but during the week, never dismiss a 30 minute window as a chance to fit in some valuable training.
5. Become a morning “lark”
Although some claim to being predisposed to staying up late but disliking early starts, with enough practice, everything becomes routine. I strongly feel that pre-work training is essential in all of our busy lives: no excuses or work/life derailments to torch your best intentions of training later in the day; more calories burned throughout the day; more productive at work; less people to battle in the gym/pool/on the roads. Seriously, if you want to get fit, embrace the alarm call 45mins earlier than usual!
So there are just a few of the efficiency hacks that you can use or adapt to fit a little more into your busy but healthy lifestyle.