Listen, we’ve all been there, we’ve all heard them, and we’ve probably all used them.
I’m talking about the excuses you use as to why you’re not exercising.
“I’m just too busy.”
“I don’t know what to do!”
“I’ll start tomorrow.”
“It’s my cat’s birthday, I can’t possibly exercise today!”
You laugh, but trust me, I’ve heard some doozies that aren’t that far off from a cat’s birthday.
While there are certainly circumstances in life that will affect your ability to get a workout in, there’s no reason why something should completely prevent you from exercising. Let’s run through some of the most common excuses people will use and how you can overcome them going forward.
Excuse #1: I Have No Time!
Work, kids, spouses, friends, pets, volunteer work, hobbies, social obligations, travel… these are all factors that can absolutely affect your ability to exercise. But there are ways to squeeze in a workout even with the busiest of schedules.
First, realize that quality workouts do not need to consume hours of your time. There are PLENTY of options at your disposal for you to get in a quality session in 30 minutes or less.
Option 1: pick 2-4 movements per workout (1-2 lower body movements, 1 upper body movement, 1 core focused movement) and perform 3-4 sets with 5-10 reps of each exercise. Perform these sets with a high intensity, meaning you’ll be pushing yourself pretty hard. Get after it each and every rep for every set. The goal here is strength. If your first rep feels the same as your last, you’re doing something wrong.
Sample lift #1:
A1) Barbell RDL 3×5
A2) Feet elevated pushup 3×10
*A1/A2 are done as a superset, meaning back to back with little to no rest in between
Sample lift #2
A1) Double KB front squat 4×8
A2) Deadbug 3×5/side
A3) TRX row 3×8
Sample lift #3
A1) Trap bar deadlift 4×3
B1) Goblet reverse lunge 3×8/side
B2) 3 point DB row 3×10/side
B3) Tall kneeling DB press 3×8
As you can see, these lifts aren’t necessarily long, but if you go hard and heavy (relative term for everyone), these short and sweet options provide everything you’d need from a regular program minus the time consuming volume of work.
Tons of people are under the impression that you need to dedicate hours of time in the gym to see results… that’s not the case. Most of these lifts can be done in 15-30 minutes, excluding some form of a warmup.
These “mini lifts” might not be what you’re used to, but when life’s obligations are consuming most of your free time, sometimes this will have to do. But remember, something is always better than nothing!
Side note: always opt for lower body work if you’re extremely pressed for time. Prioritizing lower body work compared to upper body burns more calories, increases strength more effectively, and causes more positive adaptations throughout the body than upper body work can.
Option 2: Perform metabolic circuits or complexes.
Circuits and complexes are amazing ways to cram a ton of work into short periods of time. These two methods have you perform numerous exercises in a back to back fashion with little or no rest in between exercises until you’ve completed 1 set of each movement.
So a sample circuit might look like this:
A1) Goblet squat x10
A2) TRX row x10
A3) DB RDL x10
A4) DB bench press x10
A5) Plank x10 sec
*choose a weight that is challenging for the prescribed number of reps
Perform this following circuit as many times as you can in 15-30 minutes and voila, you’ve got yourself a decent little workout that did not consume a ton of your valuable time.
On the other hand, a complex has you perform movements in a similar fashion, except every movement is done with the same piece of equipment. You perform a set number of reps for each movement with no rest in between exercises until you complete each movement.
You can do these with just bodyweight.
Barbells work just fine too.
Kettlebells are also a solid choice.
As are landmines.
Complexes are flat out amazing for allowing you to get in a lot of training volume in a short period of time. The major plus is that you don’t need a ton of space or equipment to do these. It’s a win-win for super busy people.
The only potential downfall to complexes is that putting them together so they flow nicely while hitting all of the major movement patterns might be confusing if you’re a beginner. If only you had a resource to teach you how to do these things… (cough, shameless self promotion!, cough)
Excuse #2: I Don’t Know What To Do!
While this can be a very valid reason for making people hesitant to start exercising, it shouldn’t hold you back.
Many people can feel overwhelmed from the amount of choices, equipment, frequency, and other factors that go into a creating a quality exercise program. But you don’t have to overcomplicate things. In terms of bang for your buck, strength training will always be your go to option for helping you achieve your physical goals.
As long as getting stronger is your main concern, you’re off to a great start. Sorry cardio lovers, but it’s the truth. 30 minutes of strength training will trump 30 minutes of steady state cardio 99 times out of 100. #thetruthhurts
Once you’ve made increasing strength your main priority, then it’s just a matter of making sure you touch on all your bases within a single session or week. And it’s a simple checklist.
Squat variation (goblet squat, front squat)
Hinge variation (deadlift, hip thrust)
Single leg variation (split squat, lunge, single leg hip thrust)
Push variation (pushup, bench press, shoulder press)
Pull variation (row, chin-up)
Core variation (plank, side plank, deadbug)
At the end of your session/week, ask yourself if you included roughly an equal amount of each of these things. If yes, congrats, you can no longer use the excuse “I don’t know what to do when it comes to exercise”.
For a much more detailed explanation of how to create your own training program, check this post out from Coach Chris’s personal blog.
Excuse #3: I’m Just Too Lazy/Tired
This is probably the trickiest excuse to overcome, but it’s not impossible.
The biggest thing you’re going to have to do when trying to overcome self diagnosed laziness is to try and establish a meaningful ‘why’ behind your reason for starting exercising in the first place.
And heads up, “I want to look better” is not your why, I guarantee it.
You need to dig deeper than this. WHY do you want to look better?
Will it increase your confidence?
Ok, well, WHY is increased confidence important to you?
Do you feel lack of confidence is holding you back from achieving more personal success, perhaps in your career or personal relationships?
If so, WHY is furthering your career or improving personal relationships important?
Were you constantly doubted by friends or family growing up? Will achieving career success prove you’re mentally stronger and more resilient than what was instilled in you growing up, thus giving you a new outlook on life?
Now, you very well may be thinking, “Whoa, relax pal, I just wanna shed a few pounds to look better in a bathing suit, no need to go all Dr. Phil on me.” And you might be right… to a degree.
But I’ve had conversations EXACTLY like the one just laid out, where clients tell me they want to lose weight for a wedding or other life milestone. But throw a simple “why” at them, and soon enough you learn they’ve been insecure about their weight since age 13, and losing weight isn’t just about a wedding… it’s about overcoming years of demons, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence.
And that, beloved reader, is a huge motivator and driving force behind many success stories.
So if you’re feeling lazy, take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what’s your goal? Then ask yourself no less than 5 times WHY is that important to you? If you put some thought into your answers, you may surprise yourself with what you uncover.
Once this is done, the next step is to start small. Biting off more than you can chew initially is a terrifically wonderful way to ensure you fail.
If your goal is to start strength training 4x week, start by doing 10 bodyweight squats 2x week.
Yes, that’s it.
Your initial attempts at exercising should be so laughably easy that when you finish, you’re left thinking “I can definitely do more than that.”
Which is precisely what you’ll do the next time you exercise. Maybe this time it’s 12 squats, or 2 sets of 10. Until slowly but surely it evolves to 3 sets of 10. Then you can add another exercise… then more reps on the second exercise. Until slowly your routine snowballs into something that on Day 1 you would have never thought you could accomplish or even better accomplish consistently.
Slow and steady wins the race, amigo. Start small and stay consistent.