Getting it Done

There’s no question that we are all pressed for time. We have many daily, weekly and monthly obligations that are set in our schedule. Often, for those of you reading this, included in these tasks is a training session. In fact, it is very likely you have both a lifting and a cardio session programmed into your weekly schedule. And you might even perhaps have time budgeted in to meal prep and plan your meals. That’s all awesome, but what about when life throws a monkey wrench into your schedule??

We all know examples that can/have occurred. For instance, all of the sudden school calls with a sick kid that needs picked up. Or perhaps, your alarm got set wrong and you woke up late (notice I didn’t say hit the snooze button). It might even be that your boss held a late meeting that went long and now the only hour you had after work is reduced to 30 minutes! WHAT TO DO???

The answer is simple, GET IT DONE. Now, you say “Irwin, how am I going to get my 90 minute training session crammed into a 30 min time frame???” That is just it, you’re not going to. However, what I do want you to do is make the decision that instead throwing your hands in the air and saying “SCREW IT” instead you make the choice of “LET’S DO THIS!”

Getting it Done - Natural Iowa Muscle















Okay, so the big question is how. First, look at what your main goal is for that activity. If you were supposed to do a lower body workout, identify the “meat and potatoes” of that workout session. This means to eliminate any isolation exercises and focus on the main compound lifts.

For example, if this is your day, keep the bolded exercises and scrap the italics:


Leg press (note: could also superset this with standing deadlifts or eliminate)


Leg curls (note: could superset these with calves or eliminate both exercises completely)

Calf raises

Another option would be to superset the isolation exercises with the compounds. However, superset them with other body parts so it doesn’t overly fatigue the muscles of the compound exercises (see above). Additionally, you could lower the volume (instead of completing 5 sets, do 3 sets). If you literally only have time for one exercise (perhaps to get lift and cardio in), squats or deadlifts should be the choice for lower body, bench press for upper body. For total body, I would likely vote for the deadlift.

So what about cardio? So if you have a quota to hit during the week and the time that you like to do it is no longer available, then get out of your comfort zone and do it at a time you normally wouldn’t. This is perhaps early in the AM (I promise, the first 5 minutes is tough then you’re golden) or late at night. Another option might be over the lunch hour. Finally, if you need to squeeze both the lifting and the cardio in at the same time, determine which is the priority based on your current goals and focus on allocating the most time to that.

Manage your time

In a previous blog post I mentioned about not multitasking, this is key here. Don’t screw around, get down to business (hat on, ear buds in, head down-no eye contact and get off your stupid phone!) Also, calculate how much rest time you can get by with and get your sets done. For example, if you normally take 5 minutes of rest in between sets of squats, but you need to get 6 sets done in the next 25 min and you figure in 1 min for each set, that gives you 3 min of rest in between sets. There are other little efficiencies you can gain, keep a water bottle with you verses walking to the fountain, bring your workout gear with you in one trip (knee sleeves, towel, straps, wraps, etc.) so you don’t need to go to the locker room. Speaking of locker room, do your business prior to training so no bathroom breaks are needed.

Bottom line

While it is nice (and rare) that one can train without regard to the clock or their schedule, sometimes, when things are really crunched for time, you have to set priorities and just get done what you can. Even if it’s not your full training session, 9 times out of 10 an accelerated session will be better than none or letting a day slip by and postponing the training. Caution here, make sure you’re being honest with yourself and not making excuses to cut things short. On the flip side, don’t sacrifice important and critical things that you need to do in order to get that extra set of curls in, I promise you, it’s not worth it. Until next time, keep making every day count!