In Monday's issue, "You're Not Too Busy", I talked about controlling your time, and I mentioned that you could get a great training session in with minimal time. Let's go deeper with that today.
Let's start from square 1 by assuming you have no equipment. What can we do? Pushups and Squats using your bodyweight. This is not optimal, since I'd rather work a pull to complement the Pushup, but we'll get there. So here we go.
Option #1 - 1a.) Pushup x 5
1b.) Squat x 5
Depending on your level of experience and strength, do 3 -5 sets. This would take you about 5-10 minutes.
If you're a beginner, or your pushup or squat could use work, this will go a long way if done 3 -5 times per week, with honest reps and effort.
If you're pushup and squat are good, you can go for max reps each set, or you can increase the difficulty with a 2-3 second pause at the bottom of each. This will actually improve both movements due to the isometric hold at the bottom and the level of body control required. These are just 2 examples. The possibilities are limited only by your current ability and creativity.
Let's level up, though. Chances are, if you're here, you want to get stronger.
You realize that you need some upper body pulling, so you decide to invest in a Jungle Gym or similar suspension trainer. You put this on top of your door, close it, and there you go. So Now...
Option #1(Improved) 1a.) Pushup x 5
1b.) Bodyweight Row x 5
1c.) Squat x 5
As above, 3-5 sets. This will take about 15 - 20 minutes, depending on your level of intensity.
Here's a clip of an extended warmup from Monday night. The chains weigh 20lbs. each. The rep count was 5,4,3,2,1 for both movements - totaling 15 reps, or 3 sets of 5. This literally took them less than 5 minutes. This could be laddered back up for 5,4,3,2,1,1,2,3,4,5 - totaling 30 reps in around 10 minutes, give or take, or even 5,4,3,2,1,5,4,3,2,1. It's just one example.
Let's say you start getting excited about being able to squeeze training in, so you buy yourself a Kettlebell.
Now you're ready to rock and roll...
Option #2 1a.) Pushup x Max
1b.) BW Row x Match Pushup Reps
3 -5 Sets
2a.) Squat x 10
2b.) KB Swing x 10
With the proper intensity, still about 15 - 20 minutes
Here's the deal - these are just a few examples of how, with minimal equipment, you can get a great training session in. You just need the determination to get it done, and the willingness to bring the intensity. The thing about minimal time is you need to focus only on what absolutely needs to be accomplished that day, cut away everything else for that session only, and attack it in a way that keeps you engaged with no distractions.
As much as I like having the training time to work in everything I want, I enjoy the cramped sessions because they force me to do only what is necessary and to attack it hard.
Two weeks ago, sandwiched between an all day business mastermind meetup and my evening training classes, was 40 minutes of time to train. My sessions lately have been around an hour. I'm 16 months into a training program that's been yielding great results.
I knew I was going to be busy with the mastermind followed by training the next day as well, and that would cause me to have to double up my lifts on Saturday. I decided to do only what was necessary, and to attack it hard enough to get it done in that time frame. I hit 8 sets of Bench Press and Chins followed by 3 high volume sets of Bench Press and 1 Arm Rows. I finished in 30-35 minutes. There were no junk reps. I walked out of my gym with an enormous sense of accomplishment, knowing I had resisted the temptation of letting the day's training slide, and I did what was necessary to make progress. I didn't let my schedule dictate my outcome. I gained strength physically and mentally. I went to that evening's classes fired up and ready to train!
Training doesn't need to be complex or flashy. It needs to be purposeful and attacked with the appropriate intensity to elicit the desired effect. If you had a barbell and 20 minutes and decided that the most important thing for you to get done in training was the Deadlift, and you set the bar up for a moderately tough 5 reps, and then put a clock in front of you and proceeded to pull 5 reps every minute and a half - how much stronger do you think you'd be - mentally and physically?
Cut out what's nonessential. Focus on what matters, and attack it with robust intensity and purpose.
It will change you.
If you don't know what to do, where or how to start, or you have any questions at all, feel free to reach out. I'm here to help.
Eric Chasko is the head of Redemption Fight Club. He is a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Progressive Fighting Systems Full Instructor. From young athletes to busy professionals, he helps people develop the physical, mental, and emotional strength to win on the field, on the street, and in life.