5 Fitness Hacks for Busy People

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So you want to get in shape – or stay in shape – but you feel like you don’t have the time. Let me encourage you, you have the time. All it takes is dedication and a little bit of strategy. Read these 5 fitness hacks to help get you started.

1. Fitness Starts in the Kitchen

You may have heard it before, but it’s easy to forget (especially when you get home late from work and have a quick-and-easy frozen pizza calling your name): your diet is responsible for the majority of your fitness outcomes.

The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, says that roughly 80% of effects come from 20% of causes.

This rule can be applied to a variety of aims. It is helpful in identifying the lowest amount of work needed for the best outcomes by finding 20% of activity that will reap 80% of the results.

In other words, it helps you optimize your efforts.

In terms of fitness, diet is 20%. Taking time to eat nutrient-dense healthy foods does not take a lot of extra energy expenditure (you have to eat anyway!) and has a huge effect on your fitness and overall well-being.

Plan of Action:

  • Plan and prepare. It is a lot easier to eat clean (healthy) when you have healthy foods readily available. Take a day each week to prepare healthy foods that will last through the week. Make sure your meals contain a palm-sized portion of lean protein in each of them.
  • Keep a food journal. It may seem tedious or silly, but keeping a food journal adds a great amount of accountability to a diet plan. It may also help you pinpoint certain foods that delay your progress or cause unexpected results.

2. Plan, Prepare, and Track Everything You Can

There’s an old saying: “what gets measured gets managed.” This is true in every part of your fitness journey.

Taking the time to plan, prepare, and track is often overlooked, especially by those who find themselves extremely busy, but it can double your fitness results and save you time in the long run.

Plan of Action:

  • Write out reasonable goals for yourself with quantified outcomes. An example: meal prep 3 lunches this Sunday and go to the gym twice this week. Choose a starting point that works for you. Beginning with small goals has been proven to prevent weight gain and establish lasting lifestyle changes.
  • Track your progress. Similar to the food journal, tracking your overall progress can help you stay accountable, see what is and what isn’t working, and stay motivated by your advancements towards your goal.

3. Sleep On It

Sleep is like magic. It has the power to enhance various aspects of your fitness journey. No matter how busy you are, making time to establish and maintain a solid sleep schedule will improve various aspects of your life.

For starters, sleep can help you cut calories. When you sleep the way you’re supposed to, in a consistent rhythm with 7-9 hours a night, your body is able to regulate 2 major hunger hormones: ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry, and leptin, which makes you feel full.

When your sleep is disrupted, these hormones can be thrown out of balance, wreaking havoc on your diet ambitions.

Sleep is also necessary for muscle growth. Stage 3 sleep, also known as short wave sleep (SWS), falls towards the middle of the cycle and is essential to growing and repairing muscles. 70% of growth hormone, a hormone essential to muscle development, is released during stage 3 sleep.

Plan of Action:

  • Get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night and try to have a consistent sleep schedule.

4. Workout Smart

Have you ever felt like spending lots of time in the gym hasn’t led to the results you wanted? It is possible you hadn’t optimized your workout.

Not all exercises are created equal. When you are busy, it is essential to apply the 80/20 rule to your workouts to make sure you are using your limited time as effectively as possible.

One way to do this is to focus on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. These typically involve a series of calisthenic, strength-training exercises done in quick bursts.

HIIT workouts are especially effective because they are easy to complete and focus on building muscle.

No matter your age, body type, or current activity level, everyone is able to gain muscle. Building muscle affects multiple aspects of your fitness journey because it raises your basal metabolic rate and caloric needs.

In other words, the more muscle you have, the more food you can eat without gaining weight.

Plan of Action:

  • Focus on muscle-building workouts that can be done quickly to make the most out of your time.
  • Experiment with working out at different times of the day to find what works best for you.

5. Ditch the Snooze

I know, most people hate the notion we should all wake up early, but this is the one productivity hack that will absolutely change your life.

When you work out first thing in the morning, you eliminate the possibility that life will get in the way.

Our lives are filled with unexpected traffic jams, last-minute drinks with friends, family members coming into town, and hundreds of other forces conspiring to keep us from exercising.

Plan of Action:

  • Work out in the morning. This lets you enjoy the day without fitness hanging over your head. If you accomplish nothing else the entire day, you can sleep easy knowing that at least you’ve worked out.

Using these tips, you’ll find that, if you want to get fit, you can make the time, no matter your schedule. Just believe in yourself and get started! 

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