Short Workout > No Workout

Spending less than 3% of your day exercising can have a profound effect on the other 97% of your day. The point is not what you do each day, but that you actually do something each day.

Short Workout > No Workout
Photo by Alora Griffiths / Unsplash

Just a quick preamble. I am not writing this post because I have been highly dedicated to working out lately. I'd rather say I am writing it to convince myself to get back into it.

My training background

A few years ago I was very into powerlifting. Obsessively so.

Powerlifting is a strength sport where you compete in 3 main lifts i.e. the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. In competition, you have 3 attempts to lift the heaviest weight you can in each lift and then your heaviest lifts are added together for your total.

Lifters compete in weight classes and the lifter with the heavies total wins. Simple.

I was competing at a high level and represented South Africa on a national level at the IPF World Powerlifting Championships 2017. This takes a lot of time to achieve:

  • 1-2 hours of working out per day
  • Training 4-5 days per week
  • 1-3 hours per week on recovery, massage & rehab
  • And the rest of the time you spend eating

Priorities change

Now don't get me wrong - I LOVED IT!

What I am getting to, it takes loads of commitment to perform at that level and you make many sacrifices in other parts of your life.

Now things have changed a bit: I got married, started working, got a dog, quit my job, and started multiple companies. I am no longer at university with loads of time to spare.

Today I would rather take my dog for a walk, chat with my wife or spend time working on one of my companies than spend 2 hours in the gym.

But has my history with powerlifting ingrained this concept of long gruelling workouts into my brain? Definitely. And I would bet this is the case for a lot of people. We believe workouts need to be long and it needs to be terrible.

Gamer Changer

As I am writing this I catch myself "justifying" to myself why I am not working out as much - or at all for that matter. Trying to find a way to feel better about it.

I know I perform better if I get in 3-4 workouts per week.

  • I sleep better
  • I focus better
  • I eat better
  • I feel better

Let's do the maths

The real question is: how much time do you really need to spend working out in order to achieve the above points?

I am by no means a personal trainer or an expert in this field but I think a great goal is doing something active for 30 minutes each day.

Let's assume you sleep 8 hours per day. That means you have 16 hours per day. 30 minutes is only 3.125% of your day.

Cannot find 30 minutes? How about 15 minutes? That's 1.56% of your day.

In other words, you only need to spend <3% of your day in order to make the other 97% of your day better. Now that is an incredible return on investment.

Which type of exercise should I do?

This is the thing. I do not think you need to do any specific exercise. A good starting point is, to do something you enjoy doing. The chances of you continuing doing that each day for 30 minutes is much higher.

You also don't need to do the same thing each day.

  • Feel like going for a walk on the beach - Good!
  • Feel like jogging - Great!
  • Maybe do a bodyweight workout - Amazing!
  • Play with your dog at the park - Ditto!
The point is not what you do, it is that you do something, anything!

Let's be realistic

Only spending 15-30 minutes per day working out won't make you a world-class athlete or a bodybuilder that can flex on stage.

But doing a 15-30 minute workout per day is guaranteed to have a positive effect on your relationships, body image, ability to focus and all-around health.

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