How To Workout When You Have No Time

How to workout when you are too busy
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How to workout when you have no time

In this guide we will look at tips for those with no time to exercise. We give you 9 pointers for when life is so busy you can’t find a place for exercising and answer some common questions at the end about effective exercise. This is how to workout when you have no time.

TLDR: Spending 20 minutes on exercise, with some personal honesty a couple of times a week is enough for most – and nearly everyone DOES have the time for that. I train for an hour plus 5 times a week but that’s more than most need. I just love it. For you, just make it a habit but don’t beat yourself up, start with small wins.

How to workout when you are too busy

Too Busy To Exercise vs Exercise Anxiety

Ever hear of the story of the guy who spent the first few months just parking outside the gym then going home? A once morbidly obese man from the UK spent months just getting into the habit of driving to the gym, before even stepping foot in. Ultimately it was anxiety, nerves and a fear of failing to lose weight that had held him back for so long.

When we say we don’t have time – what we mean is we don’t prioritise exercise over the other items in our life we do have time for.

It’s rare to find someone who is too busy for exercise not addicted to another behaviour at an unhealthy level. It could be working too many hours, procrastinating in the morning, or feeling like the sofa and Netflix at night is preferable. “I’m so tired after a long day I just can’t get to the gym”. Ever said that?

Exercise doesn’t only have to be done at the gym and it doesn’t have to be done in one continuous block of time. It could be 3 blocks of 7 minutes throughout the day. I’ve done 10,000 steps jogging on the spot at the back of a jumbo jet flying to LA – it’s because I want to.

Why you should exercise even if you’re busy

“Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.” Source:

The benefits of exercise with moderate intensity a few times a week are vast. From improving your ability to evade Cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, to reducing stress and burning fat; it’s folly to ignore it. I treat exercise like brushing my teeth, we do it daily. We give more time and attention to our physical appearance with makeup, hair styling, shaving than we often do to what goes on beneath the skin. But the benefits to those that exercise are also evident in their mental outlook too.

So, maybe you’re busy right now, but its important to audit your daily and weekly schedule to see what can take a back seat for 20 minutes to give you time to care about your body.

How to commit to working out with a busy work life?

Start small, and just as many of us at work have to create OKRs or quarterly objectives, set yourself some personal ones too. If you haven’t exercised before, or for a long time, commit to 2 periods of exercise of 20 minutes each week for the first 3 months.

That’s attainable, easy to do, and can be as simple as jogging on the spot for 4 blocks of 5 minutes twice a week.

Don’t aim too high, don’t create a reason to be disillusioned. If you haven’t exercised much before or just been too busy, be very proud of meeting that target.

A week before the 3 month period is up, re-assess your quarterly goals and tell yourself you will visit the gym 12 times this quarter and increase the exercise days to 2.5 per week. Twice one week, three times the next.

Gradually this will become habit forming and the rest will take care of itself. But treat your physical health in the same regard as your looks, your work goals and your tv box set attention. Get exercise on your to do list.

NB: If you have a kid/s or family you have to care for, pin a picture of them to your morning mirror remind yourself each day, that no matter how busy you are, you will find time to workout for them.

Sample Quick Exercise Schedule

From a brisk walk to an exercise routine from Youtube performed on the kitchen floor, there are many ways to squeeze physical activity into a busy life. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.

  • Jogging on the spot for 10,000 steps – broken up into blocks of 1000 throughout the day.

  • Walking to work in warmer months

  • Soft play/trampoline centres with your kid/s.

  • Youtube workouts 10 minute blasts twice a day or at once on your exercise days. Joe Wicks has some great ones.

  • Shadow boxing for rounds of 2 minutes x 12. Sit ups – squats – push ups – jumping jacks, rotated during each round gap. Eg: 1 round of 2 minute shadow boxing followed by 30 seconds sit ups. Round 2 of shadow boxing, followed by 30 seconds of squats and so on. Repeat back round until round 12.

Want some more ideas for training plans?
Try this next: The Only Exercises You’ll Ever Need

1/9: Utilising Time in the Morning

If you’re one of those people who constantly feel like they don’t have time to work out, then utilising your mornings may be the key for you. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your morning hours:

  1. Wake up earlier than you usually do. This will give you some extra time to get in a workout before heading to work or school.

  2. Do a quick workout in your bedroom. This could be something as simple as 10 minutes of stretching or light cardio.

  3. Drink a protein shake or eat a healthy breakfast before heading out the door. This will help give you energy and keep you from reaching for unhealthy snacks later in the day.

  4. Make use of lunch breaks at work. If you have an hour-long break, try to use 30 minutes of that time for a workout. You can go for a walk, do some light cardio, or lift weights at the gym.

  5. Avoid watching TV or browsing the internet in the evening. This time can be better spent winding down and getting ready for bed, rather than sitting in front of a screen.

2/9: Setting Timers and Scheduling Into Your Day

Make time to work out by setting timers and scheduling it into your day. When you first wake up, before you start your day or even after dinner are all great times to work out.

If you can’t make it to the gym, don’t worry! You can do at-home workouts by simply setting a timer and following along with a video. There are plenty of great workouts available online, and most only require 20-30 minutes.

By setting timers and scheduling your workouts into your day, you’ll be more likely to make time for them. And that’s important, because exercise is just as important as eating, drinking and sleeping. It’s essential to our overall health and well-being!

3/9: Take Advantage of Your Lunch Break

If you are having a hard time finding time to work out, there is no better option than taking advantage of your lunch break! Even if you only have 30 minutes, you can still squeeze in a quick sweat session with the right exercises. Whether you prefer to go for a run, do some yoga poses or lift weights at the gym, there are plenty of activities that will help you get fit in a short amount of time. Just be sure to plan ahead and pack yourself a healthy lunch so that you have enough energy to complete your workout. Don’t forget to bring along your water bottle as well; hydration is key when it comes to getting the most out of your workout sessions!

How to workout when you have no time

4/9: Intelligent Multitasking

Intelligent multitasking is the way to go if you’re looking to maximise the time you have for exercise. Instead of running from one activity to the next without any thought, consider how you can combine disparate activities and save time. For example, if you have a 20-minute walk planned, why not listen to a podcast or read an article while you’re doing it? This way, you get your exercise in and also learn something new. You can also combine errands with exercise: park a few blocks away from your destination or take the stairs instead of waiting for an elevator. By taking small steps like these, you’ll be able to squeeze more time out of your day!

5/9: Applying the Power of No

Making time to work out means learning how to say no. It’s not easy, but it’s an important step in carving out more time to exercise. When something is a priority, you must be willing to say no to something else. So if daily exercise is a priority for you, learn how to apply the power of no.

From saying no to nonessential tasks or commitments, to simply cutting back on screen time and using that time for workouts instead, applying the power of no can help you make extra room in your schedule. Don’t let guilt prevent you from making the decision that’s best for your health: making time for exercise is an essential step in living a healthier lifestyle and improving your overall well-being.

6/9: Utilising Technology to Help You Stay on Track

Utilising technology can help you stay on track when it comes to your fitness. Technology has made it easier than ever to set reminders, log your progress and keep track of your calories burned and distance covered. You can also use apps or devices to listen to music while you’re working out and make a custom playlist that motivates you. Research shows that listening to music during a workout can help boost energy and performance, so it’s definitely worth investing in some technology that’ll help you stay on top of your fitness goals.

7/9: Taking Advantage of Family Time

Another great way to get in some extra exercise is to take advantage of family time. This can be a great way to involve your kids and keep them active as well! For example, you could go for a family bike ride or hike, take a dance class together, or play an active game like tag or basketball. Even something as simple as taking a walk around the park can be beneficial. Not only will it help you stay fit and healthy, but it can also be a great bonding experience for the whole family. So don’t forget to squeeze in some exercise whenever you can!

how to workout when you are too busy - Family time can help

8/9: Try Something New to Keep You Excited

The ninth of our ten tips for working out when you have no time is to try something new. Variety is the spice of life! Not only does it add interest and excitement, but it also keeps your body challenged in different ways. When you shake up your routine by doing something new, you get to target different parts of your body and work harder than before. And in addition, introducing an unexpected element or two can actually help make it easier to stick with the same programme.

You could go to a pilates class; try yoga or tai chi; head outdoors for a bike ride or a run; take a dance class; or get back into skateboarding. All of these activities offer great ways to stay active and in shape while having fun. So don’t be afraid to experiment and find something that works best for you!

9/9: Ask for Help When Needed

Last but certainly not least, if you find that life is getting too hectic and you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help! It’s better to have a helping hand than risk burning yourself out. Whether that be from friends, workout buddy, family members, or even a trustworthy babysitter—having an extra pair of eyes or hands can make all the difference. Plus, you never know who might share your enthusiasm for exercise, and having a supportive person to help motivate and encourage you can give you the boost you need to stay on track. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make it happen!

FAQs for how to fit in exercise with a busy schedule

If you are asking how to fit in exercise with a busy schedule then some of these common questions may have crossed your mind. Whether you have a busy life or work week, these answers might help you to work out how to fit exercise and physical activity into that routine.

What to do at the gym when it’s busy?

Understanding how your workout trains your body will mean finding replacement exercises is made that bit easier. While it’s very useful to keep track of your workouts, knowing that just being in the gym is a good thing and don’t hate your life because you couldn’t use THAT row machine today.

Top tip is to train at non-peak times, it’s far more pleasant and learn a version B of your workout.

How Much is Enough? Length of exercise session minimums?

When you love the gym, this is not a question, so for those who are at the stage of not really loving having to fit exercise into their life, any amount of time is enough. If your fitness routine in the early months is no more than 20 minutes a time, that’s okay. It’s all about building habits that will last a lifetime. Your fitness routine may change year to year, but the habit of fitting exercise into your ‘non-negotiables’ is forever.

How do you exercise with an irregular schedule?

Short answer? When you can. Exercise doesn’t have to be on a set day, and it doesn’t have to be a fixed number of days per week. Over a year things will even out as an average, if week 1 is twice in the morning and week 2 is 3 times at night, that is still fine. A hectic lifestyle need not get in your way if you don’t sweat the small stuff. Workout when you can. It will help to reduce stress, give you more energy and be a nice break from everything else going on in your life. Trust us, it’s worth it.

What’s your exercise of choice when you are limited on time?

If you are limited on time but are heading to the gym, here’s a few angles of attack to get a solid workout in that doesn’t feel like you are short changing yourself.

Superset – This means do two exercises immediately after the other THEN rest once. This is great for pairing two opposing muscle groups. Eg: Chest press (horizontal push) followed by a row (horizontal pull).
Jogging on the spot for 100 steps in between every set. This helps avoid the need for long runs or extra walking before or after your workout and get you closer to that daily 10,000 steps target.

German Volume Training – Eg: 10 x 10. 10 sets of 10 reps at a weight that is about 60-70% of your usual 8-10 rep weight. Rest only for 45-60 secs between sets. An alternative is to pair two muscle groups, doing 1 set of 10, followed by another set of 10 immediately after – like the superset THEN rest for 90 seconds. Do this for 10 rounds. By the end of workout routines like this, you will have hit 20 sets, 200 reps and with such little rest in between, you will feel it the next day. Time to complete – 30 minutes – more than enough time trained.
This is best for large muscle group movements. Squats supersetted with Deadlifts, bench press with bent row. Lat pulldown with shoulder press.

High Intensity Interval Training – Lots of movement, in not a lot of time, will leave you soaked with sweat and with less impact on your daily schedule. Circuits of total body training is great for this.
Break fitness sessions into bitesize chunks. 10 minutes of high intensity in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch. This is great if you’re working from home. The goal here, is to fit exercise in around gaps in your life.

High Intensity Interval Training – Lots of movement, in not a lot of time, will leave you soaked with sweat and with less impact on your daily schedule. Circuits of total body training is great for this.

Break fitness sessions into bitesize chunks – 10 minutes of high intensity in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch. This is great if you’re working from home. The goal here, is to fit exercise in around gaps in your life.

Is exercising twice a week enough?

We are each different, and with different goals. Take me the writer for example, I want Rugby player legs, that means I need to abuse them 2 to 3 times a week. That doesn’t include my upper body, which will get a visit from the muscle fairy twice a week also.

But if you are just starting out and trying to add new positive habit in your life, getting active twice a week is great. Your body adapts when you rest, and at this stage we don’t want to over-train and pick up an injury. In months 4 onwards, your new found love of fitness may see you exercising more anyway.

Can I stop my workout for 12 days, while I’m off to vacation?

Yes – your body will still be there waiting for you on your return. To make it less of a cold start though, why not give yourself a small block of time each day to focus on something consciously good for you. It could be a fast walk, some lengths in the pool, or just 5 minutes each morning stretching. Who knows, you may come home with an additional new healthy habit.

What do you do when you don’t feel like working out?

If you don’t feel like exercising (even we get that) put on your workout clothes and take yourself for a fast walk or just go down to where you generally get your sweat on and pick an easy set of movements you never baulk it.

This is why Mondays are colloquially known as ‘International Chest Day’. No one is that motivated on a Monday!

How can I get into shape if I don’t have time to go to the gym?

Losing weight comes down to a caloric deficit. That means eating less than you burn. If you want to lose fat, eat less and move more. If you don’t have a lot of time to hit the gym, then go less, but train harder and with more intensity. Keep a food diary and you will be able to get in shape by keeping those calories below your burn rate.

How do I find time to work out?

Take an audit of your day or week. What have you done today, keep a diary. Look back over the week. Make a note of the time that you make comments in this time audit diary. Did you have gaps? What did you spend most of the time on? How long did you spend drinking coffee? How long did you spend not doing much at all?

Could you compress this time?

Auditing your daily routine will help you find time to workout.

What is the best time to do exercise?

The best time to exercise is the time you can allocate for it. There is a lot of study on when we have higher cortisol levels impacting strength or power etc in the day, but for a busy person, who just wants to get in the gym or exercise, any time is the best time.


What is a short but effective workout for a busy schedule?

If you have a busy schedule and not a ton of motivation to exercise, you may enjoy shorter blasts, like Tabata, total body circuits or a vigorous sporting hobby. One form of training, known as GVT or German Volume Training, is 10 reps of 10 sets of one exercise done at 60% of your 1 rep max. With 1 minute gap in between each set, you can really hit a whole muscle group in 10-20 minutes and feel it the next day.

Learn more about GVT:

Still too busy?

So, we hope that we’ve shown you that there are ways to work out even when you have no time. It might be hard, and it will definitely require some effort, but it’s definitely doable. Just start by finding something that fits your schedule and your lifestyle, and go from there. And, most importantly, don’t forget the importance of exercise. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your health and your longevity, and it’s worth making time for.

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