How to Make Time for the Gym When You're Tired, Busy, and Overworked

Updated 05/31/19
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It's a universal agony: Those moments where physically getting yourself to the gym and depositing yourself on the treadmill (or whatever your exercise of choice) can sometimes take more strength than the fitness routine itself. From never-ending list of excuses not to go (i.e. being too busy, too tired, too lazy), catching up on your favorite Netflix show almost always sounds better than sweating it out. Until, of course, you realize how amazing you'd feel if you had been working out according to the fitness goals you set for yourself months ago.

 To that end, motivation experts and certified fitness professionals share their tips to make sure you never miss a workout, no matter how tired, busy, or overworked you might be. Read on for three simple tips you can implement now.

Schedule Your Intention

In 2013, The Guardian cited psychologist, William James, author of The Principles of Psychology (published in 1890), on the importance of rituals, which goes something like: If you waste your energy trying to decide when or where to work, you'll sabotage your capacity to do the work. Meaning, give yourself the opportunity to consistently show up for your workouts by getting specific about when you will hit the gym, push play on a streaming HIIT class, or take that walk. The more specific you are when scheduling your workouts, according to Atomic Habits author James Clear, the greater chance of completing your goal.

This way, you unburden yourself with making a real-time decision for when and where to workout. For example, instead of I'm going to work out tomorrow, try, I'm going to walk around the park for 30 minutes at 2pm tomorrow.

Try the Stacking Method

Going a step further, and keeping your scheduled workouts in mind, try the stacking method. "One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking," writes Clear. As Clear explains, our current habits are just that; they're automatic—think, brushing your teeth as soon as you get up, then brewing a cup of coffee before you leave for work. So, "by linking your new habits to a cycle that is already built into your brain, you make it more likely that you'll stick to the new behavior." That said, in addition to scheduling your workouts, you can tack it on to something you typically don't think twice about, like eating lunch at Noon each day.

Now, using habit stacking, your intention might look like this: After I eat lunch at Noon each day, I will walk around the park for 30 minutes.

Work With the Time You Do Have

You might be thinking, What if I don't have 30 minutes? The solution is simple: Work with the time you have. Mike Clancy, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF, “Ten minutes is better than five, and five minutes is better than zero,” he explains. That way, it's not about having a perfect workout every single time, Clancy says. It's about consistency, which you'll build if you implement smart strategies like scheduling your workouts, or stacking them before or after your current habits.

“It’s not a failure if you didn’t hit every target,” he says.

Think of it this way: “Just showing up is more than half the battle,” Kellen Scantlebury, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Fit Club NY, tells SELF. Instead of fretting over the intensity of the workout or how depleted you might feel afterward, make it priority number one to show up, and bonus points if you've got your yoga pants or sneakers on.

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