Get out of your own way by training less and achieving more!
As a single Mum of three, I need to exercise for my sanity just as much as my physical strength, which I know is even more important now I’m over 40. But with running two businesses and a home as well, I found that the pressure of doing 5-6 workouts a week, just didn’t work for me. I also found that as I was often tired (exacerbated by the fact my youngest child doesn’t sleep very well!), I wasn’t getting the maximum out of my workouts either. So I started to look at how I could be even more effective with my workouts and time – and I came up with an entirely different exercise program which has completely worked for me. I’ve had some of my 1:1 clients try it too and they have LOVED it. And this is why I created my brand new Busy Woman’s Bootcamp – to help women still get their very important workouts done, but with a different approach and LESS pressure!
So here’s my 5 top tips when it comes to getting out your own way with exercise, especially when busy and stretched for energy and time (and underneath I also share a typical weekly training program for me and an example of one of my conditioning workouts!)….
1. SOME IS BETTER THAN NONE – In an all or nothing world, women can miss out the power of SOME. That wonderful grey area in between two extremes is where it’s at for me. Fewer sessions that can be done week in week out is my base line, rather than going for the ALL (5 or 6 sessions for example), only achieving two of them, not hitting them with great energy, feeling rubbish and then stopping. The all or nothing approach comes from the off / on the wagon expression which was used to described alcoholics – on the wagon = sober, off the wagon = drinking again. This is what you call the abstinance-violation cycle. You abstain from alcohol, then violate that and it’s an either / or approach. In terms of exercise the on wagon is training hard all the time, off nothing. But this mindset regarding food and fitness is one that fails so many women. And it also feeds a very common self-limiting belief that if you don’t do things perfectly then you might as well not bother. And I’m here to say GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY WITH THIS! Listen to me, something is better than nothing, feeling empowered about fitness is better than feeling guilty. And three workouts a week consistently all year long, is WAY better than six workouts a week for two weeks, then nothing for four months and repeated two to three times like this a year! Women shy away from the grey area, but honestly this is where you can shine!
2. LESS IS OFTEN MORE – The smarter I train and the more rest days I take, the stronger I am and the better I feel overall. I now combine 3 x 30 mins conditioning workouts with a one or two power walks and one short interval sprint set and I have at least three rest days, sometimes four. I do absolutely recognise that doing exercise daily can boost your endorphins and daily calorie burning, but a) you can get mood boosting from being outside, connecting in nature which you can do without a big workout b) you can still be active and walk around as much as possible as part of a daily lifestyle goal but c) stress hormones caused by self-made pressure or firing off your adrenals by working too hard / doing too much (see below big cardio sessions not helping adrenal fatigue), will counter act the endorphins / training anyway! If you have time and want to exercise each day that’s great but it doesn’t have to be almighty workouts that’s all I’m saying. If you’ve got time to power walk each day, great! But women are often very afraid of not exercising that they force themselves to go to more workouts and work much harder than they need to – when resting could give them more benefits to their body. SMART not HARD and QUALITY over quantity every time.
3. KILL TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE – This is really where you maximise the output in a training sessions by making your body work harder by alternate training upper and lower body, called PHT (peripheral heart rate training) which increases calorie output and improves strength more. Or by training two muscle groups at the same time (i.e. upper and lower body together or cardio and core). I have started doing a lot more of these and it’s made a big difference by me getting more out my shorter sessions. I’m still doing low impact moves, but they are cleverly put together and still very powerful – which means I’m challenging my body without over doing it! I do some moves that are more cardio based but I choose ones where I can maximize my core training in those moves as well. So often it’s twice the exercises in half the time AND more rest in between which bodies love 🙂
4. CHOOSE STRENGTH OVER CARDIO – Women have been programmed to think that it’s all about the cardio. And of course cardio can be beneficial. BUT if you’re busy, stressed, doing too much, not sleeping enough, the chances are you’ll have adrenal fatigue. And adrenal fatigue and hard cardio work are not good buddies. Or maybe like me you hate cardio! You don’t have to do cardio to be fit, strong and healthy. Far from it! Maybe like many of my clients, you think that because you don’t like cardio or think that you have to do it to be fit, you either procrastinate doing any exercise because you don’t like it or you know it’s going to be a hard workout, that you avoid it completely?! Or, maybe like women, you do cardio without balancing it our with core and conditioning. Which often means injury niggles or you don’t have the body composition or tone that you want? Body composition is everything the older you get and women need to do way more of it! I believe all women need to own a resistance band, a set of hand weights and some ankle / wrist weights. You don’t need heavy weights or complicated equipment, this little set is your secret magic formula that will serve you in decades to come!
5. FIND A TIME SLOT THAT REALLY WORKS FOR YOU! This is imperative to motivation and you a) getting to your workout and b) having a great workout when you get there! I am an early bird so I do typically prefer exercising first thing. But I was finding that I was rushing my workouts and not focusing on them, as I’m mentally more switched on in the morning, so like to work in the morning too – especially if I’m building content or writing. I’m definitely not an evening exerciser but recently I discovered that if I work from 7am to 1.30pm and have an early lunch about 11.30/11.45am, I really enjoy training 1.45pm-3.15pm ish and it means I can have a longer session (45 mins power walk and then my conditioning before or afterwards for example) a couple of times a week. It’s also energised me for the last part of the day when I have the kids. Rushing your workout is stress in itself, not stretching because you’re running from your workout to work is part of the problem women face as they are still kicking their fight or flight off and/or not stretching means more injuries. Get out of you own way isn’t just about getting to your workout but being present in your workout and allowing yourself enough time to stretch those hard worked muscles!
My weekly workout plan typically looks like this:
Monday – Power walking fast 10 minutes, 15 mins sprints and 30 mins conditioning – 7am
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 45 mins power walking and 30 mins conditioning – 1.30pm
Thursday – 45 mins power walking and 30 mins conditioning – 1.30pm
Friday – rest day
Saturday – rest day
Sunday – rest day
Monday – 45 mins power walking and 30 mins conditioning 130pm
Tuesday – rest day
Wednesday – 30 mins conditioning
Thursday – 45 mins power walking and 15-20 mins interval sprints
Friday – 30 mins conditioning
Saturday – rest day
Sunday – rest day
And if I’m really busy I simply do 3 x 30 minute workouts and leave the power walking.
Here are two typical 30 minute conditioning workout plans:
Workout 1 – 15 mins (using bands around my legs for lower body throughout the whole workout and hand weights for upper body). I use 2 or 3kg weights, you don’t need to rush the speed of these moves, take your time, get the technique spot on and really focus on power and control of each move and muscle that’s working…
1. Step touch
2. Step touch with lateral arms
3. Double step touch and double biceps curl
4. Alternating rear leg tap with a double hammer biceps curl
5. Half foot tap left and right lateral raise and then alternating left / right
6. Double step touch with upright row
7. One arm straight rear triceps lift with a left rear leg tap
8. Repeat right
9. Double side squats right, power back row, repeat to the left and then alternate side to side
10. Triple foot point with a biceps curl, upright row and triceps kick back to match each point – right
11. Repeat left
12. Triple step touch with triple back row on the end, repeat right to left
13. Triple step touch with triple rear delt row on the end, repeat right to left
14. Double side to side jump step into a squat each side
15. Arnold press with alternating side points
Both upper and lower body are worked together here with lots of core activation too!
Workout 2 – 15 mins (this is a killer workout using very simple moves with lots of layering and repetition)
Section 1 – core and glutes (3 minutes)
Do the following moves 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 times through and repeat starting back at 2 until the 4 minutes are up
2. Reverse curl
3. Glute bridge taps
4. Venus fly traps
REST for 30 seconds
Section 2 – Legs (Do the following moves 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 times through and repeat starting back at 2 until the 3 minutes are up)
1. Static lunge right
2. Static lunge left
3. Power lunges forward alternating
4. Power lunges backwards alternating
5. Side to side squats with optional jump
(you can use hand weights for this set to make it harder!)
Section 3 – Core and back (Do the following moves 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 times through and repeat starting back at 2 until the 3 minutes are up)
1. Grass hoppers
3. Air box planks (hands and knees lifting knees off the floor)
4. Upsie downsies
5. Swoops (slow mountain climbers)
If this isn’t hard enough for you, then you can just keep going up past 10, 12, 14 etc. for each move or increase the time to 4 or 5 minutes a set.
The other thing I wanted to say is that I don’t really drink much anymore. Being completely tee-total doesn’t work for me, although I did 38 days at the start of the year. I find that without a little release / escape from time to time I feel more tense / stressed and I’ve put all my focus on moderation (that lovely grey area I mentioned above!) and I’ve finally nailed that, yaaaay!
I don’t drink in the weeks at all now (I have a rule that don’t drink Sunday to Thursday) and I allow myself a couple of drinks Thursday or Friday if I fancy it, but don’t always and often don’t drink Saturday to Thursday. Sunday is my busiest day of the week with the kids and jobs around the house and I much prefer not drinking on Saturday nights now! And this has definitely helped with calorie intake going down, meaning I don’t need such a big calorie expenditure in my workouts!
I’m also meticulous with my food planning (see my GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY blog two on how I make healthy eating easy!). As I type this it’s Monday morning, my workout is done, my lunch is ready in the fridge and my Mindful Chef meals arrive later so dinner is sorted 🙂
I trained hard this morning (power walking outside, then conditioning in the gym) but I know I’ve got a rest day tomorrow and a bigger session Wednesday and Thursday booked in, before the whole of the weekend off.
What I’m really wanted to get across here is the freedom I feel from only having to fit in three sessions . Yes they are longer sometimes if I add the power walking, but I personally find it easier to motivate myself to get to three sessions AND to fit them into my busy diary. If I want to exercise or feel that an extra power walk or swim session would benefit me and have space and time to do that, then of course I keep my options open!
When it’s the school holidays I also find it easier to do 3 bigger sessions with 4 rest days, or I drop the conditioning one week and just power walk and then swap that around the week after. Again it’s the some not all mindset that means I GET OUT OF MY OWN WAY!
What could you do, or do differently that would mean you could fit some training in more often, or even better most of the time?!
Why not come and join me on my brand new Busy Women’s Bootcamp if you struggle with this, or want to see how your body adapts to this type of training?
I’ve literally put together all the things I do into a fantastic 28 day program that you can tailor make to you no matter how busy you are or what your goals and aspirations are!
Here’s a quick summary:
* It combines 15 minute super effective, low impacts conditioning workouts which you can do one per day six days a week, if you’re a little and often person. Or perhaps like me, stack two of these to make 30 mins ones you do three times a week! And you can increase the intensity by halving the program time or lower it by lengthening it too!
* It provides 28 day eating plans with matching shopping lists and easy food prep hacks and advice to make healthy eating the easiest you’ll have ever found before!
* Organisation, procrastination and motivational tips provided by optional daily emails (or they can all be found in an Ebook which you can dip in and out of at your leisure).
* Inspirational podcasts created by me so that you can listen to some uplifting and thought provoking content whilst power walking outside or doing your food prep!
* And a secret Facebook group to share your busy women’s food, fitness and mindset breakthroughs as you make your way through the program!
It’s is designed to help busy women GET OUT OF THEIR OWN WAY, GET IT DONE AND GET ON WITH THEIR DAY!
So why not grab a place and let’s make this happen together?!