I know how hard it can be to get your workouts in.
Between family and work responsibilities and the inevitable, out-of-the-blue emergencies that can pop up during your designated training time, it’s practically a miracle when you can get in three good training sessions in a week!
But in a moment, I’m going to show you how you can always fit a workout in…
One thing I won’t do is shout BS platitudes like “YOU NEED TO MAKE THE TIME!” or “YOU JUST DON’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH!”
That’s not helpful.
No, I understand that life can get in the way. And you know what? I really don’t like phrases like those either, because priorities of family and responsibilities shouldn’t be things that are “in your way.”
Let’s look at some bodyweight exercise circuits you can use for “anytime, anywhere” workouts when you’re busy.
First Thing’s First: Get Your Priorities Straight
Training and exercise isn’t your main priority (unless you’re a professional athlete) and shouldn’t be the main thing you spend your time doing. Instead, they support and help you pursue what you actually want from life.
So when you feel like your life responsibilities are “in the way,” the first step is to take a serious look at what’s really important to you.
Being busy doesn’t mean skipping training altogether – not if you have some quick routines in your pocket.
I know it can be especially frustrating when you have a great program and plan all worked out and you are excited and motivated to make it happen – so much so that you feel like you should skip training entirely if you can’t do what was planned for that day.
Well, I just have to say, don’t do that!
Do what you can, when you can, with what you have.
Remember “perfect is the enemy of the good.”
It’s much better to be consistent and train even just a little bit than to not exercise at all because things don’t go perfectly to plan. I want to exercise and train so I can fully enjoy the life I want to lead.
And that can’t happen if I don’t get to it consistently.
Below are some examples of quick (but not easy), full body workouts that can be used in place of your planned workout, even if you only have 10-30 minutes to get something done.
Full-Body Skill and Conditioning Circuits with Bodyweight Exercises
In this video, I’ll demonstrate three progressively difficult circuits.
What I’ve chosen to do is pick one movement skill and two conditioning exercises to perform for time in a circuit. Take a look:
To incorporate these moves into a circuit:
- Perform each exercise for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise.
- Do each exercise in the sequence – that’s one circuit.
- Repeat the circuit for the desired number of rounds – shoot for five, or do more depending on the amount of time you have available.
Here’s the logic behind this workout routine:
The exercises you choose for the circuit can be anything you want, really, but there’s a reason I included the exercises I did.
- Pulling variations (Reverse Row –> Reverse Row Sit Back –> Chin Up) – These exercises engage the upper body, giving you the pulling strength you need for your daily life.
- Hollow Body variations (Basic Hollow Body Hold –> Mid-Level Hollow Body Hold –> Full Hollow Body Hold) – This is an incredible conditioning exercise that develops full body strength and control.
- Pirouette variations (Basic Pirouette –> Full Pirouette –> Pirouette with Back Scale) – This is a nice, full body skill, requiring great coordination, balance, and overall body control.
These are some of my favorite go-to moves when I’m short on time and have to get the biggest bang for my buck in a training session.
Depending on your strength levels and conditioning, you could do these circuits continuously with no rest in between for 5 to 15 rounds, or you could rest 30 seconds to 2 minutes between rounds as needed.
It all depends on the exercises you choose, what you are capable of, and what your time allows for.
Tailor These Bodyweight Exercise Circuits to Your Training Goals
You can easily choose other skills and exercises that are a good fit for your current training emphasis.
One of our primary concepts is the GMB Cycle Method wherein you emphasize a particular training goal for a period of time, then move on to the next and so on, eventually returning to that same emphasis later on in your training.
This results in continual improvements in all areas from the cumulative effect of increasing your abilities in one area at a time. Rather than trying to do everything at once and gaining a little bit, focusing on one attribute for a few weeks at a time maximizes your energy and effort toward great gains.
With this in mind, you’ll want to choose skills and exercises that will fit well with your current goals, even if they aren’t exactly what you had planned for the workout.
Example: One-Arm Elbow Lever Focus
If your training was directed toward hand balancing and you wanted to improve your One Arm Elbow Levers, you could do the following exercises for 30 seconds each:
- One Arm Elbow Lever with other arm fingertips on the ground (switch sides after a 3-second pause and repeat until 30 seconds are up)
- Ring Pushups
- Single Leg Deadlifts (switch sides at 15 seconds)
We have the specific skill of the lever itself, ideally performed at a level or two below what you can do. This lower level of difficulty allows you to do it with very good form even as you get fatigued in your training session.
Remember, you don’t want to ingrain bad technique into your skill work.
This is then accompanied by an upper body horizontal push strengthening exercise in the ring pushups. This strength is crucial for holding the One Arm Elbow Lever and is a good choice for a conditioning exercise.
The third exercise, single leg deadlift, is a lower body and low back stability exercise, which of course, is needed to keep your legs strong in the lever.
Example: Human Flag Focus
If you’re working on the flag, you might try something like this:
- Flag tuck (5 seconds each side, repeat until done)
- Side planks
- Rope climbing
Again, you’ll keep the skill at a difficulty level where you can maintain good technique even as you tire, and conditioning exercises that support the strength needed to do that particular skill.
Choose Exercises that Fit Your Goals
And again, these are just two examples.
Pick a skill you are interested in – or better yet one that you have a hard time doing! – along with two supportive, conditioning exercises that work on your weak points. This circuit may not be what you originally planned for the day, but it will definitely be worthwhile, and a damn sight better than not doing anything at all!
This circuit idea is a variation of a concept we used at Steve Atlas’ Immersion weekend.
When All Else Fails, Remember Why You’re Doing This
I love exercise and training, and I’m lucky that it’s part of my career and that I get to share my experience with you.
The discipline to make small gains add up to big changes over months and years, which means a lot to me. But, at the same time, it’s not simply the act of working out that motivates me.
I train because it improves me both physically and mentally for what’s important for me in my life.
Playing with my children freely and easily, long strenuous hikes out in nature, and just being physically healthy and ready for anything – these are my priorities.
And it’s my consistent training regimen that makes these priorities possible.
My fitness creates the life I am leading. It goes beyond body composition or even strength just for the sake of it.
It’s helpful to remember that.
Your passion and zeal for improving yourself physically should have at it’s root something more than just those physical changes. Training becomes part of what you do because it supports who you are and what you want to be.
Doing Whatever it Takes to Make it Happen
I was talking recently with a client of mine about how her kids were doing in their sports. It’s a big part of their lives and she supports them as much as possible.
Her youngest boy goes into the city to play club basketball, and she was telling me about one of his teammates. This teammates’s mom is single and works two jobs, so he has to stay at an after-school program before he can catch a couple of buses to go to basketball practice.
The other parents try to take turns dropping him off at home when practice is over, but if they can’t, he has to take three buses home. By that time it’s past 11 o’clock at night.
My client’s son said to her, “Mom, do you know what (his name) has to do to play with us?”
We both thought it was a great lesson for her son to see what some kids have to do just to play a little basketball. He simply did what he needed to do to make it happen.
I’m not telling this story to shame you.
Because, really, there’s lots of good reasons why you may have trouble maintaining a regular training program. I have those same reasons too.
It’s just the way it is.
Your training is what YOU make it.
Regardless of what reasons you have, you still need to realize that you can only get as much out as you are able to put into it. No judgment here – this is just a matter-of-fact statement.
Don’t be ashamed if you can’t squeeze your training in.
It’s fine – we all have good reasons.
Just do what you can with the time that you have. The important thing to remember is if you want to make a change in yourself, then you’ll have to find ways to be consistent.
I’ve given you some ideas on how I make the most of a “missed day,” and I’m sure you can come up with your own as well.
Forget about being perfect and just do what’s possible for you in each moment.
Consistency doesn’t mean you have to train exactly as you planned every time. It’s much better to get yourself moving and exercise anyway, even if it’s in a different manner than your prescribed program.
Use what time you do have, get to moving and make it happen.