“But I Just Don’t Have Time To Train!”

450px-Alarm_Clocks_20101107aI hear this line ALL THE TIME.

And, people, I hear you.  We lead busy lives – we have jobs, some of us have kids, we make it to practice, and do our league jobs.  Where can we even find the time for the off-skates training that we need?

I’m a big fan of the Minimum Effective Dose.  The Minimum Effective Dose (MED) is a the smallest dose of something that will produce the desired outcome – think the smallest dose of medicine that will make you feel better.  It’s a concept that Tim Ferriss talks a lot about in the 4-Hour Body.

In particular, I love the MED for folks who complain that they have no time to train.  Is it hard to find an extra hour in your day?  Probably.  Is it tough to shave 10 minutes off your Netflix binge?  Not at all.

My favourite MED prescription is five minutes of kettlebell swings.  Five minutes of swings, with a brief warm-up and cool down seems entirely achievable for most people and most schedules.  When you know the time commitment is so small – you stop making excuses to skip sessions. It’s also a good way to start building training time into your schedule.  Once you can manage 5 minutes consistently, you can start biting off bigger chunks of time for training.  Additionally, keeping your program simple and achievable makes your progress much more visible.

Don’t believe that so little exercise can be effective? Read about 2 experiments from Precision Nutrition.

The MED is a good tool when you’re busy, when you’re on the road, and when you’re starting out.  It is, however, not the only tool.  This article from Breaking Muscle is a good counterpoint to the MED hype.  We do need volume training to develop endurance.  Just like we need shorter sessions to keep us on track.

The takeaway from both articles is that you needn’t skip a training session just because you have “don’t have time”.  There’s always time, it’s just a matter of what you do with it.

I mentioned 5 minutes of swings as a great MED session, what if you don’t have access to kettlebells, or any equipment for that matter?

As some of you might know, my league (TCRD) hosted the first WFTDA playoff tournament to be held outside the States last weekend.  It was awesome, it was incredible, and it took almost every hour of my time for three days.  Does that mean I didn’t train?  Heck no!  I found a stairwell and got to work.  Here’s exactly what I did:

  • PUSH: 15 pushups
  • SQUAT: 15 air squats
  • PULL: 10 inverted rows per side (using the stair railings)
  • HINGE: 20 1-leg glute bridges per side (using the stairs as a decline)
  • CORE: 10 deadbugs per side
  • GAIT: forward and backward leopard crawls

3 sets, a minute rest between sets, no equipment, less than 12 minutes altogether.  On the second day, I replaced the air squats with split squats, the crawls with stair running, and the deadbugs with planks.

So, next time you’re about to complain that there’s no time to train, take a step back and apply that Minimum Effective Dose.  You won’t be sorry you did.

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  1. Thanks, I’m such a deadbeat I make up any excuse. But these are great ideas on maximizing your workout efficiency. Thanks!

  2. I can’t do pull ups, what could I do to replace them. Also, what’s a deadbug?

  3. Pingback: Shrinking the Change - How We Roll Fitness

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