Fallback Fitness - When the Gym can't Happen
Ah, isn't it nice to always have the time to make it to the gym? Don't you just enjoy being able to take your time and work methodically on your fitness?
Nowhere to go, no matter to draw your attention, and no one taking your equipment when you walk away to refill your water bottle. It's just you and your body working towards your goals...
An startled slap of the alarm clock shakes you from your beautiful dream. You were just about to throw on some extra plates and shake the whole gym with your deadlift. Photographers were hanging off the equipment trying to get angles of your body in motion.
Well, now you're figuring out how to get your feet untangled from the sheets and make it to the bathroom without falling flat on your face in the process. This morning, like all mornings, has brought you to wake while it's still dark.The red 5:15 glares at you as though each LED line were made of middle fingers, all aimed at you as you fight to squeeze in your workout before taking on another long day.
If you don't get your workout in this early, then you'll surely have to sweat among the morning stampede of driven individuals commanding every piece of equipment in the gym. At this hour you're lucky to even get the older, dusty treadmill in the corner. If you are going to get the workout that you intend on, then you need to beat these folks.
You have no other options. This is how you're going to get your fitness taken care of. As your feet finally settle onto the floor and feel the chill of the air around the bed - you close your eyes once more and picture a world where no person, place, or thing could get in your way. If only you had a job that let you go in a bit later, an evening commute that isn't an hour plus, or the needs of your family to pull you into your into the house at night.
What a dream it is...to always have time for the gym.
For everyone who isn't an employee at a fitness facility it can be incredibly hard to pencil in time to make your journey to the gym and have enough time to maximize your workout. There are bosses who throw projects on your desk before you're about to leave at night, early morning meetings that never have an agenda but always require your presence, and roadways that never seem to cooperate.
Even the weekends don't seem to provide the necessary amount of time for you. Your kids have practice, your significant other booked you for day plans, and you have to get the oil in your car changed at some point.
Life happens, it happens fast, and it never relents. Time will keep moving whether you like or not, so you better come prepared, and prepared is exactly what you'll be once your done this article.
Every great action movie has put it's protagonist in a shitty situation for dramatic effect. Of course they aren't going to just walk right out of the arch nemesis' front door with the nuclear codes in their pocket...they're going to have to make an improvised bungee cord and jump from the fiftieth floor window onto the roof of a perfectly cab below.
As they tuck and roll off the flattened yellow car they'll mutter something under the breathe about taking the short way out only to turn towards the sky and yell some catch phrase to a team of security guards leaning out of the blown window where the hero once stood.
"Always have a plan B".
If you encounter a busy day at work, a packed weekend schedule, or just don't have it into you to venture into your local gym...what are you going to do instead?
Sadly, most people use these issues as excuses to avoid exercise all together. Somehow, exercise and a commercial fitness facility have become synonymous. It doesn't have to be that way though. In fact, the gym can serve as only a small piece of your total fitness portfolio if you ensure you have the right tools, plans, and attitudes.
You'll need a plan B,C,D, and beyond. Here's where you start:
What better way to keep your program rolling than to fill a space in your home with equipment that is both cost and space efficient. It doesn't matter how bad the day has been if you have a space in your garage, basement, or even backyard to throw down a great workout.
I recently wrote an article for BFRbands.com (Blood Flow Restriction Bands) about the seven best pieces of gym equipment for your home gym. Click here and give it a read.
Now, I wrote this article with budgets and space needs in mind. But, if you have the money and room to include barbells, dumbbells, and a power rack in your home gym, then by all means, DO IT!
DO IT NOW!
Fartleck Running Bouts
I know, I know. What a freaking name, right?
Fartleck refers to a method of running in which you alternate between running, jogging, and walking (if necessary) based off of time or distance. This method effectively tucks intervals into your longer run.
Imagine yourself on a three mile run in your neighborhood, town, or favorite country road. You could simply tie your running shoes and keep placing one foot in front of the other until you get to the end, or you can mix in some sprints within it.
It could be as simple as jog for a minute, sprint for ten seconds, and walk for twenty seconds.
You could jog for ten seconds, sprint for ten seconds, and walk for ten seconds.
You could organize this however you want. You could delete the walks if you want a tougher workout, or skip the sprints if you aren't able to do them yet. The key is that you are mixing intensity levels within your longer distance cardio. This will boost your total caloric expenditure, assist in burning additional fat, and expand your cardiovascular capacity dramatically.
Yoga and Pilates via your Device
More people, myself included, should be spending some amount of time with these movement disciplines. These lower intensity, deep breathe focused practices are excellent for developing underutilized muscles in the core, hips, and shoulders. Moreover, they boost the recovery aspects of the body, increase flexibility and mobility, and often provide an overwhelming sense of calm over a body that doesn't rest much.
Every meathead should do at least one day of yoga a week, period. Every devout runner should do at least a day of pilates or yoga too.
Simply put, you can't beat your body into submission every day and expect it to love you back.
These practices have become even easier in today's technological world where a talented instructor is just a application away. All you'll need is a mat and some floor space.
On a day when the world seems to be stacked against you...where your schedule is stressing you out...why not start your day with something that relaxes you and allows you to exercise without a hassle?
A Long Walk
Live in a city, but usually take the metro systems? Walk to and from work.
Usually order your food to be delivered to your office? Walk to get it.
Usually plop on the couch and catch up with your significant other? Walk and catch up.
This one is the simplest and the easiest. The barrier for entry is the lowest. Sure, power walking isn't going to serve as your predominant form of exercise, but it can be a tremendous supplement for the days where you just can't rationalize the time to make it to the gym.
Use it on days that are the busiest or the ones that are sandwiched between your hardest workouts. You can mix your recovery exercise with your low-stress walk and double the benefits.
Rest and Focus on Nutrition
Skipping the gym for 50 cent wing night doesn't count. Skipping the gym because you chose to stay up and binge watch your favorite show last night doesn't count either. But, if you've been rocking it out as a superhuman and your body is tired...rest.
Get the extra hour of sleep, spend the extra time preparing foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Knock out those little tasks that might get in your way later in the week.
It is important to remember that resting is just as important as working when it comes to fitness success. The body has limitations and you must respect them. If you want to keep kicking ass when you can make it to the gym, or be able to throw down an amazing workout in your garage, then you need the time for your cells to catch up to the stress you've given them.
It doesn't have to be every week either. Listen to your body and try to time it with one of those days where forcing your workout may be more stressful than beneficial.
Your fitness goals can be achieved even when you aren't in the gym. Somehow we've devolved to a place where we can't disassociate our workouts from the fluorescent lights that hang above the squat rack. We've accustomed ourselves to expect crowds, sweat stains, and rushing to get where we need to go.
It doesn't need to be stressful. It should be enjoyable. Have your plan B workouts in your pocket and use them when you need them. Fitness is always within your grasp.