If I were a betting man (and my gambling debt suggests that I am… kidding), I would guess that your days aren’t exactly oozing with spare time. Sorry, there was probably a better way to say that, but you get my point – most people don’t have a wealth of extra time these days.
A busy schedule is a pretty convenient excuse for lack of exercise, but it’s not a good one. It only works because most people immediately associate a good workout with an hour or more of their time, not including the commute to the gym (there’s a reason 70+ percent of gym memberships go unused, and methinks that the extra drive might be part of that reason).
I always tell people that you can work hard or you can work long – it’s your call. I prefer the former because, regardless of my chosen vocation, I have better things to than more exercise.
Timothy Ferriss has a great analogy in his book, The 4-Hour Body. I don’t love everything about his book, but this particular comparison is spot on. He says that when you exercise, you’re trying to flip certain hormonal switches and reach a given threshold of muscle stimulation (this is indeed, true). He likens this to boiling water. Water boils at 212F. The important part is this, once water is boiled, it’s boiled. It doesn’t matter if you make the stove hotter or boil it longer – boiled is boiled. Once you get what you need out of the workout – Ferriss calls this the Minimum Effective Dose, or MED – there’s no point to working out more. You’ve achieved the effective dose (effective being the operative word), now move on with your life.
I think so many people are reluctant to take the shorter option when it comes to workouts because they don’t want to be thought of as lazy. “Go big or go home,” they’ll tell themselves. “If you’re going to do this, you’re going to do this right.” But it’s not about sacrificing quality, it’s really just more about being smart.
Lucky you, I like ridiculous analogies, so let me ask you this… If you could choose between getting a really lousy two-hour massage and a transcendant massage that would be over in 30 minutes, which one would you choose? Sure, there are probably some people out there who would choose the two hours of poking and prodding, but I hope you’re not one of them.
Unless you have a very unique set of goals (bodybuilding, running a marathon, alligator wresting, etc.), your workouts can be both short AND effective. Sometimes people confuse their goals with ones other people tell them they should have. I’ve been in this industry a while now, and for the vast majority of people, the goal of working out is to live better… to be stronger, to have more energy, to look better in the mirror. It’s not about killing yourself with the “hardest fitness program ever put on DVD” (as proclaimed by Beachbody’s “Insanity” program). It’s not about needing “more.” It’s about doing what it takes to get better and then living life.
If you feel like more exercise is what you need, then I suppose that’s your decision. But for me, the moral of the story is this – if you can do something in less time and the tradeoff is working harder while doing it, do it in less time. Time is the one thing we all have in common, and one of the biggest bummers about time is this… you can’t get it back, so use it wisely.