When do you make time to workout?
This is by far the number one question, challenge, and concern I’ve heard from other men when it comes to exercise.
Since this has been such a regular question and salient challenge, I want to offer a few thoughts and ideas by sharing my own tips and schedules that have and still work for me.
There is not a silver bullet remedy to this challenge, as each of us has been given different roles, responsibilities, and skills from the Lord that we need to be faithful to. I do not pretend to preach perfection here, but this system has helped me manage my responsibilities within my roles as a husband, father, worker, church member, etc… while still having the time to commit to body stewardship.
Before jumping in, I want to briefly comment on the expression “making time”.
We all only have 24 hours each day. It’s not possible to generate more time beyond what God has given us (Psalm 90:12, Matthew 6:27). But we are able to make decisions on what we spend time doing each day. In other words, while we definitionally can’t “make” time, we certainly can “use” it wisely.
4 Tips for “Using Time” to Exercise
For years, I had jobs that required me to be onsite every day. I was spending on average 9 hours a day at work, not including my 30-minute commute (~10 hours door to door each day). With a growing family (two kids 4 and under) and other responsibilities (church, music, etc…), placing exercise in my schedule was a perpetual challenge.
The introduction of remote work has been an absolute game-changer for me over the last several months. But for years I used the following approach and schedule (and still do to some degree even with a flexible work schedule), which allows for regularity and consistency in my routine.
#1: Exercise 3-4x a week
Each week I target 3-4 exercise sessions. 5 tends to be too much with my other responsibilities, and 2 is not enough to provide my body with ample time during the week for focused movement. On days that I don’t have a workout planned, I rest. On these rest days, I typically incorporate “active rest” activities like family walks, family swims, family bike rides, etc…
#2: Workout in the Morning
Working out in the morning accomplishes two things for me.
Firstly, I finish my workout right away. I’ve found that the longer I wait to complete a workout, the more time other responsibilities (family, work, church, relationships, etc…) have to fill in that void throughout the day. It’s very easy to let a workout slip away amongst the unannounced but important activities and needs that arise during the day.
Secondly, working out in the morning takes away the tension I’ve felt about using my time towards exercise and not my family. I try to exercise in the morning when my wife and kids are asleep. This allows me to be more present and engaged with them during the afternoons and evenings when I’m home from work and they are awake.
Practically, the time I wake up is set based on the time I need to leave for work. When I factor in the time also spent in the mornings on scripture reading, prayer, and family, I’ve found that I need to wake up 2-2.5 hours before I leave for work.
#3: Target 30-45 minute sessions
I used to think spending 60+ minutes in the gym exercising is what my body needed to be strong. However, if you have a well-designed program and are efficient with your time spent exercising, you don’t need to spend 60+ minutes a session exercising. 30-45 minute sessions at 3-4x a week are all you need for body stewardship.
#4: Utilize a Home Gym
A home gym does not have to look like your local brick-and-mortar gym. You just need to have the basics. If you exercise with just your bodyweight, you don’t need much equipment at all! If you are looking for some ideas to get you started, you can read this post I wrote about the minimalist home gym.
Having a home gym saves me a massive amount of time, which I then can invest back into exercise. This time savings clicked several years ago when I added up the minutes I spent commuting to my local gym.
Let’s say you exercise at a local gym, and it’s 15 minutes away. If you exercise 3x a week at your local gym, you will spend:
- 90 minutes commuting to the gym per week (that’s 3, 30-minute workout sessions)
- 360 minutes commuting to the gym per month (that’s 12, 30-minute workout sessions)
- 1,080 minutes commuting to the gym per quarter (that’s 36, 30-minute workout sessions)
- 4,320 minutes commuting to the gym each year (that’s 144, 30-minute workout sessions)
If you are struggling with finding time to exercise each week, having a home gym can help alleviate the time burden.
Sample Weekly & Morning Routines
Here’s what my weekly schedule looks like, depending on how many times I am exercising.
|Day||3x a week||4x a week|
Here’s a rough sketch of what my morning routine looks like for exercise & rest days. I set my alarm ~2.5 hours before I leave for work.
|Morning Routine (Mon. – Fri.)|
|Time||Workout Day||Rest Day|
|4:45a – 5:00a||Wake Up (drink water, start 1st cup of coffee)||Wake Up (drink water, start 1st cup of coffee)|
|5:00a – 5:30a||Bible/Prayer Time||Bible/Prayer Time|
|5:30a – 6/6:15a||Workout||Side Hustles/Reading/Etc…|
|6/6:15a – 6:45a||Time with my Wife||Time with my Wife|
|6:45a – 7:15a||Get Ready for Work/Kids (if awake)||Get Ready for Work/Kids (if awake)|
|7:15a – 7:30a||Leave for Work||Leave for Work|
I try to wake up at the same time each day during the week (Monday – Friday), which helps maintain consistency and routine. I also try going to bed at the same time each day during the week, which tends to fall between 9:00p – 9:30p each day. On Saturdays, I do not follow this routine, but I sleep in, and my wife and I find time Saturday mornings to exercise together.
Like I said before, I am not preaching perfection. There are days and weeks where I do not follow this to a T. But the slow, steady, and diligent commitment to this routine has helped me use time for exercise over years.
If you are looking for a well-designed exercise program that can help you get started with a consistent workout routine, I put together a 12-week workout program. This program will have you exercising 3x a week, for 30-45 minutes, only using bodyweight, which allows you the opportunity to exercise either at home or your local park.
- Gnosticism and Exercise
- The Secret of Samson’s Strength
- 5 Tactics for Exercise While on Vacation
- A Minimalist Home Gym: 6 Exercise Equipment and 10 Workouts
- The 8-Week Core Program, the Six-Pack, and the Christian
- 5 Tips for Sticking to an Exercise Routine All Year
- 4 Biblical Reasons for Exercise
- “Thoughts for Young Men”: Dangerous Procrastination
- The Long Road of Body-Stewardship
- Outdoor Workout: HIIT Picnic Table Edition
Fitness Resources Grounded in Biblical Truth