Five ways busy people can start keeping a consistent workout schedule today:
1. Embrace shorter workouts.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym in order to stay healthy and fit. Because with high intensity interval training (HIIT), you can get stronger, fitter, and in better shape than ever—in way less time than traditional workouts.
If you’ve never heard of it before, HIIT is an insanely efficient style of workout that alternates periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods.
Basically, that means you’ll be working really hard for a short amount of time, resting, then working hard again. And most HIIT workouts take only about 10 to 20 minutes—making them the perfect fit for busy people of all types.
And while traditional HIIT focuses on forms of cardio like sprinting and cycling, you can also throw exercises like box jumps, push ups, pull ups and burpees [http://www.12minuteathlete.com/burpees-are-awesome/] into the mix for a really quick and an incredibly effective workout.
2. Create a ritual.
One of the best ways to start any kind of habit is to create a ritual around the habit you want to create. And working out is no different.
For example, maybe you want to work out first thing in the morning before you go to work. You might decide to create a ritual where every morning you get up, eat a small breakfast while listening to your favorite music to get you pumped up, take the dog for a quick stroll around the block, then work out, make a protein shake, shower, and drive to work.
The idea is to get your mind and body so used to including a workout in your morning routine (or whatever your favorite time of the day is to work out) that you no longer have to think about it—making it so that working out just comes naturally to you.
3. Schedule it in your calendar.
Another way to make sure your workouts are ingrained in your schedule is to simply put them on the calendar—just as you would any other appointment.
So, for example, if you want to commit to working out three days a week, choose the days—let’s say Monday, Wednesday and Friday—and put them in your calendar or phone for a scheduled time. Then treat them just as you would any other appointment.
If something really important comes up, you can always reschedule your workout for another time/day (but don’t do this too often). But just as you’d never just skip an important meeting or your best friend’s birthday party, scheduling it in your calendar keeps you from skipping your workout—or forgetting to work out altogether.
4. Commit for 30 days.
You probably know that it takes anywhere from 21 to 30 days to build a habit that sticks. The same is true with your workouts.
The key is to commit to the habit you want to create—such as doing HIIT three times a week—and giving yourself a 30-day “trial” of doing that habit consistently. Then tell yourself that if you want, you can go back to your old habits (such as not doing HIIT or not exercising at all) at the end of your 30 days.
When the end of the 30 days is up, notice how you feel. Do you feel stronger, more confident, more energized, and fitter? More likely than not you’ll decide that you prefer the way you look and feel after working out consistently, and not want to return to how you were before starting your workout trial.
5. Start small.
When you first start working out consistently, it’s not a good idea to commit to six days a week of the hardest workouts you’ve ever done in your life.
Why? Because before you know it, you’ll be sore, exhausted, and burnt out. You’ll lose all your motivation to continue and possibly even end up injuring yourself in the process.
A better approach is to start small—try doing two to three days of HIIT or other workouts to start for a week, a couple of weeks, or even a month. After you’ve stuck with the workouts for a while and know you can do them, then you should push yourself to increase the frequency and intensity of your workouts.
Start with baby steps, and you’ll be more likely to succeed in the long run.
Get rid of your excuses and just start.
One of the worst things you can do when trying to form a lifelong workout habit is to constantly make excuses when something else comes up.
Yes, we all know life happens. But while it’s certainly acceptable to take a day off here and there, letting yourself make too many excuses will break you of the habit and make it harder to stick with it for life.
And there’s an easy solution: just stop making excuses.
Traveling? You can still work out, even if all you have is a hotel room.
Tired? Exercise gives you an energy boost, so lace up your training shoes anyway.
Busy? Everyone has an extra 10 to 20 minutes in their day—and you could probably use a break from your crazy schedule to exercise and take some time to yourself anyway.
And best of all START TODAY, NOT TOMORROW.
Source: Krista Stryker, founder of 12 Minute Athlete