Frozen By Time Constraints and Specificity

Frozen In Ice

If you have followed my blog recently, you’ve likely seen me discuss training around a busy schedule. I first shared several tips and then emphasized the importance of doing something instead of nothing. It appears that there is still one group that I’ve overlooked however. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but I recently received a lengthy email from an individual who has a busy schedule and very precise (powerlifting) goals. His goals aren’t the type that can be effectively targeted through brief workouts. As a result, he shared his frustration about his inability to do anything. Fortunately though, after some back and forth dialog, he’s had a change of heart and agreed to let me share his story. Hopefully others can benefit from the example.


For the purpose of this entry, I will refer to the individual as Joe. Joe and I have communicated back and forth since last week. He has a competitive powerlifting background, but recently started his own consulting business after working several years in the financial industry. He’s also a father of two young children.

Joe has gained approximately 30 pounds since his youngest son was born last year. As much as he’d like to lift, he can’t set aside enough time for the gym. Between the 15 minute commute each way, his traditionally long workouts, and the time spent changing and showering afterward, it isn’t feasible with his schedule. He also does not have the space or equipment to lift at home. As a result, Joe has opted to do nothing.

When Joe wrote me, he emphatically stated that powerlifting was his first love and his love for heavy barbells remains as true as ever. It’s been a few years since he last competed, and he isn’t sure if he will again. His consulting business has grown rapidly and he doesn’t anticipate that changing. He hopes to continue growing his business, but would also like to maintain some of the strength that took so many years to develop.

Joe’s story struck a chord with me because I can relate to it. I spent the first half of my life as a competitive athlete. Unfortunately, I was sidelined by hand injuries as a young boxer. I never planned to start a business and become a trainer. My first love was boxing but injuries forced me to rethink my future. At the time, it was difficult for me to find motivation to train. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do (boxing) so everything else seemed like a waste of time. Joe’s situation is similar in that he can’t train or compete in the sport that he loves.

Life Isn’t Perfect

What I told Joe is similar to what one of my early trainers told me when I was down in the dumps after my final injury. I had somewhat fallen off the map so my trainer came looking for me. He eventually knocked on my door and I’m forever grateful that he did. When I opened the door, he wasn’t shy about blasting me for feeling sorry about myself. He told me that life would never be perfect. He continued to tell me that just because I can’t do what I want isn’t a valid reason to do nothing.

This all happened while we were standing on the fronts steps outside my apartment. I didn’t even have a chance to welcome him inside. His lecture began as soon as I opened the door. He never came in. And when I thought he was finally done, he finished with a verbal knockout. It came while he was staring at my old Jeep that was parked across the street. It leaked oil and had a few dents, but was always reliable. He jokingly commented that my ride had seen better days. He then began to walk down the steps and turned to ask me one last question. “Wouldn’t you love to drive a new Ferrari?” I didn’t know if it was a trick question, but I answered yes. He nodded his head in agreement and said, “Yeah, you and everybody else.” He turned around and walked away.

I can remember sitting on the front steps wondering what the hell he was talking about. I was half pissed that he was talking in riddles, but then it hit me. Just because I don’t have exactly what I want doesn’t mean I shouldn’t use what I already have. My old Jeep may have leaked some oil, but it always got me where I needed to go. I didn’t need a Ferrari to drive, just as I didn’t need to be a boxer to take care of myself. Life goes on and there will always be other opportunities to pursue. Things could always be worse.

Something Still Beats Nothing

When I shared this story with Joe, I reminded him that I’m now a father as well. I am much older and wiser than I was as a young boxer. As a fellow father, I believe that our kids need a role model and that they shouldn’t have to look outside the home to find one. As a parent, what we do (or don’t do) isn’t just about us. It affects our children. It is our job to set an example that they can eventually follow.

Joe might not be able to powerlift at this time, but he can still take care of his body. For example, I asked him to consider the following. Would he be better off doing pushups at home for six months or sitting on the couch doing nothing? Pushups might not be specific to powerlifting, but they’ll certainly leave him in a better position if or when he has time to pursue his lifting again in the future.

As much as I enjoy motivational quotes, there are often harsh realities and responsibilities in each of our lives that cannot be overlooked. I hope that Joe’s business continues to grow and that he can eventually find time to lift again. Whether that happens or not doesn’t change the fact that he shouldn’t throw his health away because he can’t do exactly what he wants. Life often requires that we make choices and sacrifices that aren’t at the top of our list.

Life isn’t supposed to be easy. We don’t always get what we want. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make the most of what we have. As I’ve said before, doing what you can certainly beats the alternative. It’s easy to take your health for granted, but that will change when it is gone. Just because you can’t perform the perfect workout doesn’t mean you can’t take care of yourself.

In summary, regardless of your schedule and goals, there is always an opportunity to do something instead of nothing. If you have time to read the Internet, you sure as hell have time for a few sets of pushups. Making that decision becomes much easier when you prioritize your health and well-being. My advice is to do it while you still can. Your future self will thank you.

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“A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.” – John Henry Newman


  1. Powerlifters!

    But seriously, I love the sport and am glad I got into it, but 90% of the guys I know think that unless they’re training at Westside Barbell with their whole team they can’t possibly make any progress. There’s no reason you can’t train at home and get ridiculously strong… except if you think you need a monolift, GHR, reverse hyper, lat pulldown machine, etc.

    Apartment dwellers are out of luck, but I have a setup in my shed and it works great. Power rack, bench, barbell, adjustable dumbbells, a couple of bands… what more do you need? Yes, it’s cramped, and yes, it’d be nicer if I could train in Ohio with Jim Wendler instead. But I think my Jeep works pretty well until I can get that Ferrari!

  2. Best article I’ve read on the Internet in a long time. Thanks for sharing Joe’s story, as well as your own story Ross. This site goes a lot deeper than just working out. I’ve been through some tough personal times in the last few years, and working out has helped me greatly in getting through them. I get a lot of my training tips right here, and it’s not just the workout information. It’s about choices, about motivation, and about a positive, disciplined lifestyle that will help you get through what life can throw at you.

  3. Great article as always. I am in the same situation, Finding it hard to make time to train next to my martial arts training. I know now that it is better to focus On short workouts instead of long workouts that you cant do.

  4. After I got married last May 2015 I grew big back to my previous figure and gained around 20 lbs, why? It is because we always eat with my wife and my wife isn’t conscious about fitness since she does not get even she eats a lot, now I find time alteast an hour to get back in shape, and I realized that if you don’t have time make time for fitness, we only have one body and once it asks for its share then we will be in big time trouble.

  5. Great post and so true! I’ve let myself go for too long. I have the opposite problem, too much time. I know it sounds stupid but, you know the old adage, “if you want something done, have a busy person do it. I have NO excuses. I don’t have but a few fee of space in my house but, I do have lots of equipment, I even got a tractor tire a couple of days ago. The only thing left to get is a HUGE swift kick in the ass to get me going. Any volunteers? Ross, the first time I came to your website a few days ago I was offered to sign up on your list, I turned it down until I could check out your content. I would now like to be put on your list. You are awesome

  6. Spot on as always. My problem is more energy than time. I am a waiter at a super busy restaurant and when I am not working I feel too tired to get in the kind of work out I would like. So I do nothing thinking I need to rest and recover. I know that getting in better shape will help me with stamina but I seem to get stuck.

    My plan now is to “drive my old jeep” around the block once a day, do some calisthenics and see if that actually gets me more energized than just resting.

    Thanks for all of the inspiration Ross. I am always checking back here for new pearls of wisdom.

  7. This is absolute truth! I regularly have to remind myself and others of the idea that the demands of life change and therefore our goals may have to change as well. It’s something I talk about in my own fitness blog regularly. Keep it coming Ross!

  8. Ross, I’ve been a reader for years. This is one of the most poignant articles you’ve ever written. Well done sir. Well done. Thanks for sharing!

  9. What an inspirational message to everybody! We are so focused on getting and achieving what we want that we begin to overlook the things we have. We should be grateful and make the most out of it! I am not only speaking about our goals in weight loss but in life in general.

  10. These two comments struck a chord with me.

    “just because I can’t do what I want isn’t a valid reason to do nothing.”

    “Wouldn’t you love to drive a new Ferrari?” I didn’t know if it was a trick question, but I answered yes. He nodded his head in agreement and said, “Yeah, you and everybody else.”

    I waste so much time trying to find “the best”. The best bag, the best workout, the best martial art, the best 4WD. So much time researching and exactly zero time doing *anything* because “it” might not be the best way

    1. Jazz the Boxer,

      If that was not a powerful punch between the eyes, that I so desperately needed, to wake me up into reality, I don’t know what was! That was powerfully convicting and a massive reality check in that last paragraph of yours, “I waste so much time trying to find “the best”. …” BAM! Thanks for the hard truth!

      Grateful for Ross’s site here!

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