Posted by Seth Wilson from The Iron Lions Facebook Group
How do you “make time for the gym”? It’s a easier but more difficult than most think. Or at least that’s the perception. A common phrase I hear daily as a gym manager/head strength and conditioning coach for a facility like the Lions Den is “I do not have time to go to the gym.” I believe everyone has time to exercise and make it to a gym it just comes down to prioritization of your day.
These are quotes from two of the members from my gym.
“No matter what you think, you always have time for yourself. You need to make yourself a priority. Time away from home and family is needed. Your husband can stay home with the kids while you make it to the gym.” – Tonya (40-year-old mom of 2).
“You need to realize what is important in your life and your health is pretty darn important. Going to the gym is good mentally and physically.” – JB (41-year-old dad of 2).
The Physical Activity Guidelines
Before we delve into how to make it to the gym or why you should let’s look at the guidelines that are given. With most claims we should have guidelines and evidence to back up our claims. The Physical Activity guidelines for Americans 2nd edition states the following “Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.” The guidelines go further and say “For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.”
Now if you are like me and love lifting weights. You are probably saying “Seth what are the guidelines for lifting?” The Physical Activity guidelines for Americans states “Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.”
To go further Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, James Krieger, Menno Henselmans, and many others recommend the following guidelines for resistance training. Lifting each body part at least 2 days per week, with each body-part having 10-20 sets per week with around 2 minutes of rest between sets, an effort of about 1-4 reps left in the tank, and allowing some flexibility in your training based on how you feel that day aka do you need a low stress week.
If you are like anyone else you are thinking “wow, that is confusing!” Now that we know that going to the gym is important for our health and the recommendations, let’s get into how you actually have time for the gym.
The Nothing or All Approach
People generally have an all or nothing approach to exercising. I see this all the time! You see people try to come in 5-7 days per week for > 1 hour and they go all out. Those people usually only make it 1-2 weeks and then get burnt out, discouraged, and ultimately stop going to the gym because they are exhausted and incredibly sore. A more moderate approach is sustainable.
Start out with the goal of making it to the gym 2 days per week. Within those two days you should engage in activity or exercises that are in line with your current goals, fun, and challenging. Keep those sessions to about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once two days become a routine and you have time allotted out in the day, aim for a third day. The third day should have exercises that are again in line with your goals, fun, and challenging.
I know what you are thinking “Seth, those 2 days of 1 hour of exercise don’t meet the guidelines.” Don’t forget that some physical activity is better than none. Those two days have the ability to make leaps and bounds for your goals. They need to be fun so you look forward to them each time you go to the gym. They need to be challenging so you actually apply stress to your body for it to change.
ACSM and Canadian guidelines
A hard pill to swallow or realize is that whatever is “optimal” from recommendations from science may not be practical for the average person to follow. IT is very easy to get lost in the weeds with exercise recommendations and the highlight reels of our favorite social media influencers and athletes. We see their best and coolest exercises, PRs, and great bodies. We forget the fact that exercise may or may not be their job. Another thing we forget to do is stop comparing ourselves to those athletes and influencers. We have different jobs, family situations, goals, social obligations, and life stressors.
5 Tips to Make Time For The Gym
Make “gym appointments” and don’t cancel.
Pick a time that is reasonable for you to make it to the gym consistently.
Before work: Put your workout clothes/bag out the night before so you are ready in the morning. Or wear your workout clothes to bed.
During your lunch break: Bring your workout clothes into your work and have them next to you.
After work: Leave your workout gear in the front passenger seat so it is in your face when you are off work
Weekends only (Friday, Saturday, Sunday): You probably don’t work so spend some time on yourself.
Start out small
2 days per week 45 minutes – 1 hour a session
Make it fun
Have a workout buddy that keeps you accountable
Do it for you!
How My Parents Broke It Down For Me
A common phrase I hear daily as a gym manager/head strength and conditioning coach for a facility like the Lions Den is “I do not have time to go to the gym.” I believe everyone has time to exercise and make it to a gym it just comes down to prioritization of your day.
Let’s start with a story from my middle school years. I was a curious boy who loved a lot of different activities. My parents (the hardest working people I have ever met) sat me and my other siblings down one day. Little did I know how important that lesson would be.
The lesson was time management. “What you do with your time will either make or break who you are.” “How you spend your time is incredibly valuable to yourself and others.” Those two quotes have stuck with me for over a decade now. You have 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week.
T5 Simple Steps: How my parents broke it down for me:
- You sleep 8 hours every night
- You work or go to school 8 hours a day
- You have chores/errands to do
- You have family and social obligations
- You have your “you” time
They broke everything down into how many hours per week you spend on those 5 things
- Sleep = 56 hours (8 hours a night)
- Work/school + commute
- Work/School = 40 (8 hours a day)
- Commute = 10 (2 hours each day)
Now go out and attack your week. Make no excuses and own your reality.