Time Isn’t An Excuse

Regular physical exercise and training can have a remarkable effect on all aspects of your life. By training and increasing physical fitness you are healthier, you are better able to cope with stress, you look better, you are more confident, and your psychological being is far better off. It can help make you a better Father or Mother, a better husband or wife, and it can allow you to enjoy more of the things you love. Yet when it comes to training people refuse to invest the necessary time.

Much of the training discussion focuses on training and nutrition but one of the biggest obstacles people have when it comes to training is finding enough time. Time management seems to be the biggest determinant in a person’s success on any given training program.

The first question I always ask a person when it comes to writing someone a program is “how much time can you commit each day and each week”? If you tell me you have 20 hours a week to train and you can train twice a day then I can right you the best program in the world. On the other hand if you tell me you only have one hour to train each week and can only make the gym twice then my hands are tied. There’s no magic I can work at that point. I have trained many different types of people with varying commitment levels but on average I am usually disappointed with the amount of time people are willing to commit.

I want to make it very clear that not having enough time is not an excuse. Usually the real issue is that a person isn’t dedicated enough or has poor time management skills.

Case in point:

Do you know how many hours there are in a week? There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week so that totals 168 total hours. That is a lot of time to fit everything you need into your schedule. When I encounter a person who claims they don’t have enough time I have them go through a little exercise with me. I examine where there time is going. Essentially I perform an audit on their schedule. I ask a person how many hours they spend at work in a week. For the purpose of this exercise I will assign 70 hours to work. That is a person that works 14 hours a day Monday to Friday. Then I assign that person 8 hours of sleep a night. I don’t ask them, I tell them because everyone at this point says they can’t get that much sleep (which is entirely another issue I could address). That is a total of 56 hours of sleep in a week. The person now stands at 126 total hours out of a possible 168. I ask them at this point what the hell they do with the rest of their time. I remind them that they have 42 hours left. They start shouting out things like “I have to commute to work”, “I have to go grocery shopping”, “I need to spend time with my family”. I assign them values for these. I give them 2 hours a day for commuting time, which adds to 10 hours for the 5 days of work, I give them 3 hours to grocery shop, and I give them 20 hours in quality time (without the phone and without outside distractions) to spend with their family per week. That brings their total to 159 hours. They still have 9 hours left to train. Usually the person gets the message by this point.

The funniest thing about this to me is that most people who say they don’t have time to train don’t actually work 70 hours, don’t sleep 8 hours a night, don’t commute that far, and don’t spend that much quality time with their family. So they end up having a lot more than 9 hours a week to train. Do you wonder where all their time goes? I have an idea: TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messages, fucking around, etc.

If you really believe that you can’t find enough time then two issues need to be addressed. The first is time management  and the second is level of commitment and desire. I can’t help you with the latter. Commitment and desire must come from within. I can’t force you to train or do the exercises for you. That is on you. I can however hopefully help you with time management. Here are a few pointers that may help.

Be The Dentist

The first step in taking back your life and freeing up time is to take command of your schedule. Don’t let others plan your schedule for you. It is your schedule and your life so you make the rules. Your time is the most precious commodity you have. It is the one thing that you can give and never get back. Once time passes you don’t get a do-over. It is gone. Treat it like it is important. Be dominant and make protecting your schedule your ultimate priority.

Force other people to work around your schedule. When you make appointments don’t ask “when works for you?” and then get stuck in appointment that you don’t like or one that wreaks havoc with your schedule. Tell them when you can make time for them. Start planning your schedule in a way that allows you to train. If you claim that training is important to you then you would protect it. In reality you will always make time for something important to you. People regularly block times slots off for their favorite television show, or a night out with friends, or a lunch, so why not do it with training.

I know a business man who routinely tells people he cannot meet with them between 11am and 1pm. He tells his secretary not to take meetings during that time. When people ask she politely says “I’m sorry there are already meetings booked during that time, are there any other times that work for you?”. The people don’t need to know that he is going to gym or doing other things. They simply respect the fact that he is unavailable and acquiesce to another time. Job done.

If you don’t think this approach is realistic then think again. Think back to a time you have called the dentist and attempted to make an appointment. You ask to make an appointment and the receptionist gives you a time. It is usually a time a few weeks out at a time that works best for them. For arguments sake they tell you November 11th at 10am. You say I cannot make 10am I have to work. So she advises November 19th at 3pm. You say the same thing and tell her you need to work between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, and she says okay how about November 27th at 9am. Once again it is on a weekday and between 9am an 5pm. What do you do? You say that you’ll take the first appointment and rearrange your schedule to make it work. Why do you do this? Your teeth are important and you are forced to make time for them. The dentist isn’t going to come in at some time that doesn’t work for their schedule. The dentist isn’t going to come in at 6am on a Tuesday morning because you have decided that works best for you, nor will they skip their lunch, or stay late for you. You are at their mercy. Learn from this.

So when it comes to your schedule “Be the dentist”. Understand that you’re the boss, you make the decisions, you make the schedule.

Avoid Time Wasters

There are a few very common time wasters. I will address three here: commuting, people, and the cell phone.

In regards to commuting do whatever you can to avoid being stuck in traffic. When you are sitting in a traffic jam it is just dead time. There’s nothing you can do expect sit. There are a few solutions to this. The first is to avoid busy times. Leave your home earlier in the morning and/or come home later from work. I have a friend who lives in a very busy urban center. If he leaves his home at 7am he can barely make it to work for 9am. Sometimes he is late. If he leaves at 6:15am he gets there by 7am and has a bunch of time to train and shower at a local gym. At the end of the day he does the same. If he leaves at 5pm he gets home at 7pm. If he leaves at 6:30pm he gets home at 7:15pm (only 15 minutes later) and created an extra hour and a half in his schedule. If you look at his day by planning his commuting better he saved almost 4 hours. That is a lot of time to accomplish your goals.

In regards to the phone I want you to do an experiment. Most people don’t have a concept of how much time they waste daily on their phone. So do me a favor. Every time you check your phone for a text message, Facebook update, to look at instagram, or to check twitter, then do 5x Burpees. You will learn really fast how much of a time suck the phone can be. It is incredible how much time we all waste on these things. I’ll bet for most of you it is hours daily. The cell phone also makes your other tasks take much longer because you are distracted. Have some self control. Put the phone away sometimes. Don’t be so attached. Learn to live without it at times. Sounds easy enough right?

Finally learn that you can’t be everything to everyone and you can’t give everything to everyone. There are people (think for a second, you know the ones I am talking about) that enjoy talking your ear off, asking you for help when they don’t really need it, show up late to appointments you have with them, etc. Learn the power of saying “no”. Be kind, be nice, but know that it is okay to protect your time. It is precious. Spend it on those who deserve it and respect it.

Be Creative With Your Training

If there comes a time that you really cannot get to the gym then start to get creative with your training. Doing repetitions every hour join the hour can be very powerful. How many push-ups do you think you have done this year? 1000? 2000? More? Try doing 10x Push-ups, ten times throughout the day. You could do ten every hour or five every half hour. If you could accumulate 100 a day you would accumulate 36,500 by the end of the year. Not bad especially since this is easy, you won’t sweat, and it doesn’t take much to fit into your schedule. You could do the same with squats, pull-ups (if you have a bar in your house that hangs from the door frame), or lunges. It is incredible how this volume approach adds up.

You could also learn to multitask. When you watch your favorite show or football on Sundays then do work every commercial break or every few minutes rather than just sitting on your ass. I remember once watching The Lord Of The Rings with my son. It is one of his favorite movies. Do you have any concept of how many burpees, push-ups, and lunges you can get done in a 3 hour movie? It doesn’t take away from the movie. You could also have an exercise bike in the living room. I have routinely rode a Fan Bike while watching some of my favorite shows. This is the kind of thing committed people do.


Just remember that time is a precious commodity. Protect it and respect it. We are all capable of making time for the things we really love. Learn to make time for your training. It could change your life. You just have to want it.