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  • Writer's pictureAl Painter Jr

The Keys To Time Crunched Fitness

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

One of the biggest reasons I here from people as to why they don't exercise more, or at all, is because their schedule is fried on a weekly basis. I'm going to break that down for you to show you that in fact you do, and you can get a lot done in a short amount of time.

And it goes a little something like this, hit it! Old school 90's hip hop fans, you're welcome.

MYTH: You need 60 minute workouts to get the benefits of an exercise program.

FACT: That's as valuable a concept as cold instant decaf!

You DON'T need long workouts to help your fitness levels. What you need is a CONSISTENT MOVEMENT HABIT. Like Dan John says: "Little and often over the long haul."

So, Mr Exercise Smart Guy, What's That Look Like?

I'm glad you asked, and I appreciate the compliment. Hmmm, I'm wondering how "Mr Exercise Smart Guy" would like on my business cards.

But before we get there, here's what it doesn't look like:

  • Program hopping, meaning you never stick with one thing long enough to see a result.

  • Doing workouts because you saw it on social media, someone else does them or told you to. Not all workouts work are for every body. Move accordingly.

  • Constantly searching for the perfect workout. HINT: It DOESN'T exist. I've tried. All I got was really sore and no closer to my fitness goals than before I started.

  • Lamenting over your schedule and complaining about the amount of time you DON'T have. This will stop you dead in your tracks before you even have a chance to get going.

  • Trying to stick to a rigid workout schedule. If your schedule is all over the place, you can't do this. You need the flexibility to be able to move around the week to be successful. I've got two junior associates here at the house that consistently "remind" me that I better be fluid with my approach to fitness. Right when I think I've got things dialed in and a routine established, there lack of planning becomes my emergency and my best laid fitness plans go to waste.

So, do the right thing by not doing the wrong things from above. You'll be happier and more apt to stick to your movement habit.

Here's what mastering time crunched fitness does look like when you slow things down, and take a more schedule friendly fitness approach:

  • Writing your weekly schedule down ON PAPER to see where your 10-15 minutes time openings are. You might find out that you've got more time than you thought you did.

  • In a perfect world, you'd write down the following:

    • The day you'll exercise.

    • What time you'll exercise.

    • How long you'll move.

    • What you'll use. Meaning will it be bodyweight? Bands? Suspension straps, etc?

    • It is this simple if you let it be.

Simple Circuits Solve Your Time Crunched Conundrums

When you don't have a ton of options, Simple Circuits are the key to time crunched fitness. They will help you be consistent with your movement habit because:

  • They'll keep you progressing toward your fitness goals by simplifying your exercise life.

  • Its one of the easiest ways to both develop and stick to your home movement habit.

  • They're simple, I mean, its in the name right?

  • You can move a lot of muscle in a short amount of time.

  • This strategy works as well at the gym as it does at home.

The Gist Broken Down To Be More Gisty

AFTER you've determined your when/what/how/what/GIDDYUP plan from above, do the following:

  • Pick three exercises (more on that below!)

  • Set an interval timer (your phone's app store has them) for :30 seconds of moving and :15-:30 seconds of rest.

  • PLEASE NOTE: Less Rest = Higher Heart rates, program accordingly with BASIC movements to help you keep your technique dialed in.

  • Pick the amount of rounds/laps to take and off you go.

  • To have more "fun" (that's trainer speak for "physical discomfort is eminent") you can increase your time moving and reduce the amount of tranquilo-cise (rest) to up the ante on the challenge. This works really well as a way to build up your work capacity to keep you progressing.

Depending on how many rounds you take, here's how the time spent moving shakes out using a :30 on and :30 off timing scheme:

  • 15 rounds (5 laps) = 14:33 of exercise

  • 12 rounds (4 laps) = 11:30 of exercise

  • 9 rounds (3 laps) = 8:30 of exercise

  • 6 rounds (2 laps) = 5:30 of exercise

Will a 3-exercise Simple Circuit get you on the top step of a podium and all of the social media love that goes along with it? No. And you should probably warn your fitfam about your simplified home workout seshes accordingly.

Will you feel better, clear your head, have a little more energy and tackle the rest of your day feeling accomplished? You bet your glutes you will. I've experienced this first hand using the 9-round 8:30 option in my kitchen with exercise bands and suspension straps on multiple occasions while I was cooking dinner.

I successfully squelched a PE pity party for one and stayed on top of my movement habit. When you stop working out and focus on simply moving more, life gets a lot easier.

The Only Three Exercises You Need

Mapping out schedule friendly fitness mean you CAN'T focus on the minutia of planning a workout to the nth degree. Meaning? You don't have time for that because it will be one more hurdle your brain has to get over. Think SIMPLE and moving as many rocks as possible with what you do.

That means you need exercises that will allow the entire body to get on board at the same time. Here's how that looks. And yes, it IS this simple:

  • Squat

  • Push

  • Pull

This combination gives you literally 100's of movement options (600 with bands alone, yep, 6-0-0). That you don't need. Because you don't have time. And here's why that works.

Give Your Movement Habit A K.I.S.S.

These three movements (squat, push, pull) are the key to getting stronger. Thanks for coming!

I will now drop the proverbial muscular musings mic and walk off stage. Which would be pretty rude, leave you hanging, and make a pretty big emotional withdrawal in our relationship.

I'm not that trainer, and like my father the mailman of 32 years, I always deliver! Especially if someone tells me they'd like more glute work in their workouts. Which is pretty rare for some reason...

If only using three exercises for a workout seems WAY TOO simple to be true, good. And that's the beauty of it. When you're working out, more is not more. When you don't have time, more gets in the way, adds stress and decafs (that's totally a negative phrase for our purposes here, feel free to use it) the whole thing. That's my way of saying overthinking will sink the ship before it leaves the PE port.

To quote the incomparable Crash Davis from Bull Durham: "Don't think. Just do."

Do You Need Equipment For Simple Circuits?

People have asked me "I don't have time and I don't have equipment how can I exercise?"

To which I answer, "GREAT!!" Which I really enjoy btw. The look on their face or sound of their voice on the phone is full of "wait, I just told you I can't do this because I've got no time and nothing to use and you're telling me that's a good thing?"

Once I explain that they can get a good lather worked up with just bodyweight, the lights go from flickering to on, problems get solved, muscle move bones, moods improve and stress reduces. You'll probably have a good hair day too as a result. I have ZERO scientific evidence to back that up btw, but it seems like it would track if you're going to stack up all of those other wins.

Here's what a bodyweight simple circuit looks like:

  • Squat

  • Push

  • Pull

Here's what a fully loaded home gym simple circuit looks like:

  • Squat

  • Push

  • Pull

Only have bands with handles or suspension straps? Then do this:

  • Squat

  • Push

  • Pull

You see the pattern? It doesn't matter if you've got loads of equipment or just bodyweight, the formula is the same. Use basic fundamental human movements for your Simple Circuit foundation to make being consistent as easy as possible.

Like I mentioned above, I've got Cliff Claven-esque lineage, so I'm going to deliver some fitness awesome for you to incorporate into your week. My friends, I give you simple made more simple with examples of Simple Circuits.

I may have simply gone to the well once too often. I write words to make a point, and if I'm lucky, you the faithful fitness faithful get a chuckle or two along the way.


• Bodyweight Squats Progressed to single leg squats over time.

• Planks progressed to Pushups over time.

• Prone (face down on the floor) Circles progressed to loaded circles over time.


• Bodyweight Squats Progressed to single leg squats over time.

• Two Arm + Two Leg Pressing

• Two Arm + Two Leg Pulling


• Two Arm Squats Progressed to single leg squats over time.

• Chest Press progressed to single arm press over time

• Two Arm Low Row Progressed To Single Arm Row over time.

Just keep these two concepts as the foundation or your plan:

  1. Simple movements done consistently = Progress.

  2. BASICS. WORK. BEST. Don't overcomplicate basics and you'll have a much easier time being consistent.

Remember your goal ISN'T world records or PRs (personal records), its to move a lot in a short amount of time so you'll feel better 10-15 minutes after you do your first rep, come away with your mood elevated, calories burned and a sense of accomplishment. Not too bad if you ask me!

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