If you just had half an hour to train, what would you focus on?
This is an important question you should ask of any exercise program as it will laser your focus on what’s really important. There are going to be days where you have more time to train but when you are very busy it is useful to know where to focus and you can always do more when there’s more time available.
A foundational component of all training programs must be a focus on improving how well you move – your mobility. Trying to exercise with muscles that are stiff and weak is like trying to drive a car with the handbrake on, you have the power there, but you just don’t have access to it. This is especially important when you have a desk job as you can be sedentary a lot of the day.
To get working on your mobility take the four mobility tests shown in the link below and work on the ones you really struggle with by repeating the same stretches. If you sit at the desk all day, you should also stand up regularly and do the shoulder mobility work a few times a day.
When you are very busy, working on your mobility for 15-20mins is an excellent use of time if you are stiff and tried from sitting all day or you’re just not feeling yourself and need to do a lighter day of training. Most injuries we see are mainly from people not doing any mobility work or from jumping straight into full training with a body that needs time to loosen up first.
The second most important part of your training is strength work performed in a manner that causes the heart rate to be elevated so you obtain the conditioning benefits you need to feel fit. The movements that will help tone and strengthen your body the most are the ones that use the biggest muscles. These are squats, lunges, deadlifts, push ups, rows, pull ups, and core work. When we combine these exercises with movements that tend to elevate the heart rate, such as, kettlebell swings, box jumps, broad jumps and burpees, we have a perfect combo of both strength work AND conditioning which would not be achieved through running, walking, swimming or yoga classes alone. Those classes are great to form part of your recovery, but you need the strength and conditioning work to truly get the health and fitness benefits of exercise. When you are busy your training is more efficient if it contains these movements rather than leg day, arm day etc.
Getting and staying healthy is about creating daily habits that allow you to feel your best yet they don’t need to take over your life. Get a group at work going to a lunchtime class or before work if that works for you. Make it something manageable that fits in your lifestyle so that you can stick at it. Focus on what you know is sustainable and you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life rather than training programs that have you exercising too hard too often.
DOMINIC MUNNELLY (@DominicMunnelly) has a degree in sports science backed up by 20 years of working in the health and fitness industry. He is a highly respected trainer, known for his knowledgeable, direct, no-bull but compassionate approach to getting you fit and healthy. Together with his wife, he is the author of Move, Train Nourish, The Sustainable Way to a Healthier You.