Time Management and Efficiency

I started my first website in 2001. In the time since, I have sold books and DVDs to people in over 100 countries. I have also received thousands of emails from readers around the world. I state these numbers not to brag, but to instead highlight the sheer volume of people I have interacted with over the years. Between the questions, comments, and concerns, I consider each inquiry to be a valuable piece of data that helps me better understand how people feel about exercise.

Throughout my years of interaction, one of the most common misconceptions I’ve seen is in regards to time management. Many educated adults honestly do not believe they have enough time to train effectively. They live under the false assumption that anyone who has developed better than average strength must have no life outside the gym.

You can see two examples through the following comments. Both were emailed to me in response to the video below. The first is one that I have seen many times before.

“What’s the point of spending years of your life in the gym just to live a few extra years?”

Another common misconception comes from those who believe that I am paid to train and have no responsibilities in life.

“I respect your abilities, but unfortunately the rest of us have jobs and families to support.”

And while these are just two comments from the last month, I couldn’t tell you how many times I have seen almost identical thoughts being shared. The general consensus appears to be that individuals such as myself spend all day in the gym without a worry in the world. The reality however is that I am probably as busy as anyone you will ever meet. I do not have the luxury of training all day. I am lucky to squeeze in an hour of uninterrupted exercise. I am not paid to train. I still have a job to perform and a family to support.

My approach to time management is simple. Wake up each day and accomplish as much as I can. That’s the extent of my strategy. A day in my life is far from flashy. I wake up early to exercise, help get my kids ready for school, work throughout the day, and scramble to finish in time to coach youth sports in the evening. At this time of year, I coach my son’s baseball team. Between practice and games, I’m on the field almost every night of the week. I then return home and usually have work to finish before bed.

My training success is not the result of endless hours of daily exercise. Instead, I am the product of consistency over many years. I typically perform one primary workout in the morning. My morning session is when I go heavy and hard. Later in the day, I make time for a brief mini-workout. I never take time for lunch so while most people are eating, I try to squeeze in a few extra minutes of exercise. The specifics of the mini-session depend on my goals. I may practice a particular exercise or perhaps target a specific objective (ex. core or lower arms). At other times, I may work through a brief series of calisthenics. In the evening, I may take another 5 or 10 minutes and do something similar before bed. It all depends on how I feel and what I am trying to accomplish.

The total time that I spend training is nothing out of the ordinary. If I had to spend all day in the gym to achieve what I’ve developed, I wouldn’t bother. There is more to life than exercise. So while I do enjoy training, I enjoy the end result even more. I enjoy being healthy and physically active with my children. I never want to be the father who sits on the sidelines because he can’t keep up with the kids on the field.

In summary, perhaps a reminder is in order that we all operate within the confines of the same 24 hour day. Busy people do not have the luxury of 36 hour days. Instead, we make the most of our time. I am grateful for each day that I am given so I sure as hell won’t waste that time. Ultimately, we all make time for whatever is important to us. It is all about priorities. I am not here to tell anyone what they should do with their time. I am simply reminding you that it is entirely possible to develop strength without investing hours upon hours each day. Use your time wisely and plenty can be accomplished. Just don’t expect for it to happen overnight.

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23 comments:

  1. I posted a vid yesterday called ‘Put Up or Shut Up’ and touched on this very topic.
    I’ve addressed it multiple times over the years and know full well where your coming from with this article Ross.

    Once again thank you for all you do and the knowledge and experience you share.
    For those of us able to recognize the value of this information and put it to good use and make the practical application to our lives…we are legion!

  2. Hey Ross,
    I’m an MMA fighter and like to do the same, get a heavy workout in in the morning and do technical training at night/lunch. I’ve tried some programs but it’s hard to squeeze them in an hour or so. And the one I am trying now is a little rough on my body, and it seems I can’t recover enough to perform well when it comes to technique. How would you go about balancing both? Stick to heavy compound movements in the morning and don’t worry about all the little exercises? I don’t want to break my body down too much

    Thanks,
    Long time follower

    1. @Tanner – One of the biggest mistakes a fighter can make is investing too much time in the weight room. As a fighter, your sport training must be the priority. Everything else is secondary. Trying to keep pace with dedicated strength athletes is recipe for disaster. Therefore, I would consider seriously cutting back on your strength training volume. Intensity may also need to be reduced (at least until your work capacity allows for more effective recovery). I also wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the potential of less “intense” exercises such as calisthenics. Strength for a fighter isn’t all about lifting heavy weights.

  3. Ross,

    Great article. In reference to the first comment in your article it shouldn’t just be about adding years to your life but adding life to your years. As an older father (my son is now 3 and I’m 48)my goal now is to be able to fully participate in his life as much as possible and my training is an itergral part of that. While I may go through training lulls now and again I will always have that base to build back upon and get to where I want to be no matter where my fitness goals may take me.

  4. Which program of yours would you recommend? I have a heavy bag, squat rack, barbell, Olympic weights, dumbbells and kettle bells in my garage. I like to train in my garage in the morning cause wife and 10 month old are sleeping.

    Tanner

  5. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked the question, “why do you workout?” When I first started training(mainly weight training back then) it was for appearance and to maybe help with performance on the football field. Back in the seventies, the weight room wasn’t taken that seriously at all,and even major college teams didn’t have mandatory weight programs. Matter of fact, probably most players used the weight room time to joke around, and the coaches, especially high school level knew next to nothing about weight training. Now, appearance is the last thing I worry about, decades later, training has been one of the few mainstays in my life. People have come and gone, the country has changed immensely, but the only constant is the how good I feel after putting in a good run or a good weight or exercise session. I probably train a max of 4-5 days a week, once a day most of the time, maybe two workouts on a day when I’m feeling energetic or not working. And most of those sessions last between 45 min to 1 1/2 hours max. Now think of how much time people spend texting, watching television, or just simply laying on the couch? Almost anyone has 4-6 hours a week to exercise.

  6. I did a ten minute workout with a mate. I think he got it from one of your books. The hardest workout I have ever done.

    people who don’t have time to get fit seem to have lots of time to eat potato chips and play playstation. Go figure.

  7. And of course someone who says they don’t have time to get fit obviously has never done tabata style T handle swings. What a way to work your core and posterior chain and cardio all in four minutes!

  8. Thanks Ross, It is Quality not Quanity when it comes to time spent as you have mentioned many times. I was shoveling stone at work today and did intervals while doing my job, its fun to take that kind work and make it a workout. Thanks again. Jeff

  9. Hi Ross,

    I was wondering your eating since I need to eat a lot especially when exercising. Do you exercise before or after breakfast, and what do you eat for breakfast? And how you get enough energy if you don’t eat lunch?

    Thanks!

    1. @Sampsa – No, I do eat lunch. My point is that I don’t take a break for lunch. I eat on the go so I don’t lose any time doing so. As for the morning, I eat first and then exercise. I prefer to have something in me before training.

  10. Ask the guy who is way too busy to exercise how many hours a week he watches TV or plays video games.

  11. Hi Ross,

    Anyone who can’t get inspiration from your website is beyond help.

    The emails you have shown state more about the idividuals attitudes to life than anything else.

    Video is freekin awesome Ross, thanks for making time to provide me with inspiration to be the best I can be. Nick

  12. Well said Ross, I work part time (4/5 days a week), pursue a full time law degree and am planning a wedding to boot. I barely watch TV these days, preferring to spend 20-30 min 3-4 days a week putting in some calisthenic work and on the weekends I’ll hit the gym for some heavy deadlifting. I reckon being able to do 3 sets of handstand pushups for 5 reps is a hell lot more impressive than beating your PR on Angry Birds.

  13. Well said!
    With the second kid coming, my objectives have changed towards staying active with the kids as well. I simply don’t understand how it could be any different.
    An hour a day of exercise is plenty enough for me these days, this blog post is a brilliant reminder for making the best of each day.
    Keep on!

  14. Hi Ross
    A teacher once told us, there are three groups of people, those who have money but have no time, those who have time but have no money and the few who are able to balance wealth and time.

    Twenty minutes of training daily is better than not training at all. Varying intensity, time and workout helped me make the daily exercise interesting the past ten years.In this site I learned about intensity
    HIIT, Tabata and how to tell/trick myself to do just one round when I feel lazy, I usually end up finishing the workout.

  15. Thanks for the reminder Ross! After all, we have the same 24 hours that Richard Branson, Oprah, and Eric Thomas do :-D. I love your website because I feel that the web is saturated with so many ” do it this way” and if you don’t follow their suggested protocol then you will not succeed, or are labeled as “dumb.” You’re website offers different flavors of training + inspiration and that’s what I love :-).

  16. Ross, can you please elaborate on what you mean by one primary workout in the morning? I am assuming if a chest leg day you might just be doing bench and squats. How long is this session? I struggle in the AM to get the motivation.

    1. @Dave – I use “primary” to simply indicate the main workout for the day. So yes, this session targets the primary objective for you on that given day (i.e. strength, conditioning, etc.).

  17. Ross I did not know about your private life and have a understanding of how you now work. Great to hear, family life spent with each other is brilliant. Even better if you play together. Good to hear you are encouraging lots of new recruits in your spare time.
    I am one of your many readers who bought books and dvds. I am thankful for your exercises that I can carry out at home without the trip to the gym and know I am keeping my body in shape. I am sure your article will help many others dismiss the myths.
    Vincenzo

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