How many times have you said, “I am too busy to workout” ?   

I know you are busy with family, kids activities, housework, work deadlines and everything in between.  Your workout gets pushed to the back burner.   Workouts get put into the category of “if I have time” vs “ I need to be active everyday for my health”.  What if I told you that you could get an effective workout even if you are really busy?  If you have just 5 minutes a couple times a day you could crush an entire workout. 

I want to introduce to you the idea of Intermittent workouts. 

Intermittent workouts are mini-workout sessions performed periodically throughout your day.   I know, at first blush, you think how can that be effective?  I will explain later in the article. 

Let’s get started with some easy steps. 

  1. Set a timer or use a trigger, such as seeing a certain object or walking into a certain room to signal when to engage in the workout. You could also piggyback off of another habit like when I put on my shoes.
  2. Set a goal to be active about once every hour
  3. Choose either a muscle group to focus on like shoulders or pick one exercise per muscle group
  4. Choose 5-6 exercises to complete back to back for 10 reps each or for 30 seconds or less. You can incorporate weights but it is not necessary.  

It might not sound like much.  But something is always better than nothing at all. And starting somewhere can produce surprising results.

Don’t take my word for it. Here is my client Miss Judy talking about how she started her strength training journey with intermittent workouts and what what her training program looks like now.

Let’s talk about some physical and mental benefits. 

Benefits of Intermittent Workouts:

  • Allow you to complete some strength training on a limited time budget
  • Require little space and little to no equipment
  • Can help you maintain your fitness and prepare you to return to a regular strength training schedule when time permits. 
  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens your bones and builds connective tissue without activating your body’s stress response
  • Increases general daily movement
  • Aids in creating an  exercise habit
  • Reminds you to take periodic breaks from work
  • Change association of dreadful training sessions to the mindset of just part of your day

With all these benefits you might wonder how you can incorporate them into your day. 

You could do push-ups and crunches during TV commercials.  You could break up your workout to specific times of the day.  For example, complete a set of push-ups first thing in the morning, right before bed and every time you enter your home office.  

Another spin on the intermittent workout is breaking up your regular training plan for the day into manageable pieces.  You might find you have a bit more time in the morning. You could start your training session with your big lifts like squats, deadlifts and bench press. These compound lifts use many muscle groups and generally involve warm up sets. You could structure your big lifts for the first thing in the morning and then complete the accessory lifts throughout the day. 

While intermittent workouts are great in a pinch or during a hectic time in your life, they should not be a replacement for focused endurance workouts and resistance training sessions.  Remember one of the benefits of frequent, short, low-intensity bouts of training throughout the day is to  aid in maintaining your ability to execute your more focused workouts.  It is also not recommended to train for a 5k run on intermittent workouts alone. But, they will build strength and boost cardiovascular fitness, making the effort feel a bit easier. 

Intermittent workouts are not for people that are trying to lose weight alone. They are important for your health when you have a sedentary lifestyle.  Research has established the health risks of sitting can shorten your life.  Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) can help counteract these health risks. NEAT includes activities such as strolling the aisles at Target, waiting in line at the bank and walking from your desk to the cafeteria. In the absence of those opportunities for movement, intermittent workouts are an excellent alternative. Though they technically count as exercise, because they’re relatively easy and quick, and they don’t feel like work. 

Intermittent workouts may also facilitate better nutrition. Because of a phenomenon known as hedonic compensation, people tend to eat more than they normally would or enjoy unhealthy treats after doing any physical activity they perceive as exercise or punishment, such as a 45-minute weightlifting or cardio routine. 

However, since intermittent workouts don’t feel like workouts, you’re unlikely to think they warrant a reward.

You may be less likely to crave processed foods that are higher in sugar and salt like cookies and chips when you’re active throughout the day.  Especially if you are due for an intermittent workout, the idea of moving your body immediately after eating junk food won’t be appealing.

Intermittent workouts can elevate mood, improve focus and reduce anxiety — all of which can make you less prone to emotional eating.

If you find you are struggling to find the time to fit in your regular workouts try an intermittent workout or two. 

Download your intermittent workout plan to get started. These intermittent workouts can be completed with Body Weight, Bands, Dumbbells, or Water Bottles.

Time to get your workout in!

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