Not enough time to train? Do these 4 things.

written by Philip Stefanov  |  JANUARY 25, 2022

Productivity is not about how much time you invest in something but how well you can use the time you have.

Prevailing wisdom suggests that we need 60 to 90 minutes for a workout. But, the truth is, using the right tactics makes us more efficient, allowing us to make steady fitness progress on a tight schedule.

With that in mind, let’s review four actionable tactics:

1. Know Exactly What You’ll Be Doing

The first step to effective and efficient training is knowing what you’ll be doing. You’d be surprised how much time people waste wondering what type of training to do.

Sit down, determine how much time you can allocate for training, and think about the activities you can fit in that time. A few heavy sets of deadlifts can take you up to half an hour to complete, but you can pump your back with some barbell rows in half the time.


  • The exercises you’ll be doing
  • How many sets you’ll perform
  • What weights you’ll use

Don’t worry about being perfect the first time around. You can always adjust your workouts as you get used to shorter sessions.

2. Leave Your Phone In The Locker Room

Despite their many benefits, smartphones come with one huge drawback: they are distracting. Apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube are designed to retain users for as long as possible, which is why many people can’t put the phone down, even if they understand how much it gets in the way.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to have efficient workouts is to leave your phone in the locker room. For one, you’ll get to take a break from the constant barrage of notifications. Second, your phone won’t be able to distract you and eat away the little time you have for training.

3. Reconsider Some Of Your Training Decisions

The third practical way to train effectively on a tight schedule is to swap some movements. For example, deadlifts are a great full-body activity, but they take a long time to do because sets are demanding, and you need to give your body enough time to recover in-between.

Before you know it, five sets of deadlifts can take you over half an hour. So, it might be better to swap such movements for less demanding ones, like barbell or dumbbell rows. Pull-ups are also great, but they can be difficult to recover from and often take a long time to do. You can swap them for movements like lat pulldowns when you don’t have that much time to train.

Another way to save time is to focus on the main lifts and cut back on isolation and accessory exercises for a while. For example, do your squats, bench press, deadlift, and rows but cut the machine exercises from your training. 

4. Keep Your Warm-Ups Short And Sweet

Warming up is an essential element of your training and safety. But, if you’re often pressed for time, consider trimming your warm-up routine a bit. Here is how I approach it:

  1. I begin with some hopping in place, often coupled with dynamic movements to warm up my wrists, elbows, shoulders, back, hips, and knees. I also include some jumping jacks, high knees, and leg swings if I feel particularly cold or stiff.
  2. I do a few warm-up sets for my first exercise. This mostly depends on what weight I’ll be using. For example, if I plan on deadlifting, I’ll do several warm-up sets and work up to my training weight. In contrast, if my first exercise is pull-ups, I might jump straight into the first working set.

The warm-up takes around six or seven minutes and works for me. You should experiment to see what gets you warmed up and ready in the least amount of time. I recommend ditching static stretching, foam rolling, and low-intensity cardio as warm-up techniques if you don’t have much time.

Thank you for your time! Until next week,


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