Can’t make it to the gym? Get a one minute workout in.
There are many times as a trainer I have heard clients or read posts from people saying that because they couldn’t make it to the gym, they weren’t able to get a workout in. Excuses ranging from “I didn’t have any equipment, there’s not enough space”, or “I didn’t have enough time”, can constantly be heard in gyms all across the globe. My goal in writing this is to address all three of those excuses and give you a few strategies on how to overcome them.
First, I need to explain the concepts of “exercise snacking” and “greasing the groove” as these are key components to answering those questions.
I define exercise snacking as brief bouts of roughly 1-5 minutes of high intensity exercise spread out across multiple times throughout your day. For example, when you wake up do 1-2 minutes of movements/exercises before you shower and start your day. When you get to work, take the stairs or park further away. Someone told you “Ill call you back in five minutes”? Sounds like a good time to do some quick body weight squats or pushups. Need a little break from emails and other employees? Go for a quick walk around the building. Not only will you be adding a little bit of exercise in but you will be helping reduce stress, anxiety and improving your mood (1). Have some time to kill before a meeting and you’re thinking about wasting that time on social media?
Better idea, do 10 push-ups and 10 squats.
Here are a few different ways I use exercise snacking to power me through the day. When I am waiting for a game to load, I hold a deep squat or do as many exercises/movements as I can until the game has started. I also hold that deep squat during game play if I notice I’ve been sitting for too long. When I am walking up stairs, I always skip one step especially if I’m carrying something so that I am doing a bigger step up with an additional load. When I take my dog for walks, I change from walking to jogging and sprinting throughout the duration of the “walk”. When I carry anything, groceries, boxes, laundry, I view that as an opportunity to work on either farmers’ carries or loaded carries to improve grip strength, core strength and posture. You should begin to see that there is a multitude of ways to add in exercises throughout your day.
“Greasing the groove” is a term that comes from the famous Russian strength and kettlebell coach Pavel Tsastouline. His belief on strength is that if you want to get stronger you need to practice strength, as he states so simply “strength is a skill”. If you want to get better at squats, you need to do more squats. While this may not seem like such a groundbreaking idea, the underlying principle is what is important for our purposes. Applying this concept of greasing the groove means throughout the day working on a specific movement pattern with high quality reps but only doing a small number reps.
The science of how this works:
The purpose of this is not to go to failure with each set but to start to build a more efficient neuromuscular motor pattern (2). As you complete more repetitions you begin to create a better pathway for the neurons to communicate with each other, which in turns makes future movements easier through a process called myelination(3). This process can help build strength because overtime as the pathway gets faster, nerve cells can fire more efficiently and the faster they can fire, the faster your muscles can contract making the movement easier.
In practice, if you wanted to improve your pull up, throughout the day you would find opportunities to do between just 2-5 pull ups and then repeat that multiple times per day. It doesn’t have to be anything major just a few here or there. By the end of the day you would be amazed at how many more reps you were able to get in compared to doing them all at one time.
Here are a couple of strategies to use to make applying this concept easier. One, give yourself a cue, for example have a pull up bar in your house and every time you walk by it do a couple pull ups. Once again, just doing a couple reps every hour can significantly add up by the end of the day, end of the week and month. Second, commit to “every hour on the hour”, what this means is that whenever a new hour rolls around you commit to doing a few reps of pushups, squats or anything you want to improve. If you did 10 pushups every hour starting right when you wake up by the end of the day you would be well over one hundred for the day, that’s over 700 for the week and nearly 3000 for the month!
So if you’re looking to improve your health and fitness but continue to give the above mentioned excuses, you better find new excuses because everybody can find one minute a few times throughout their day to improve themselves. You don’t need equipment or much space to do a squat, pushup or burpees. Now get out there and make it happen!
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(3) The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle