Often when people are making their excuses as to why they can’t exercise, not finding the time is high on the list.
But you don’t need 2 hours in the gym or even one hour or even 30 minutes.
You can get an effective workout in less than one minute, and not even have to change or break a sweat.
Learn how below.
For some of us even finding a 30 minute chunk of time to workout is difficult.
Especially when 30 minutes of exercise becomes an hour with changing clothes, showering, driving to the gym, etc.
An option that most people never consider is that instead of finding one chunk of 30 minutes to exercise daily, what if you could find 10 minutes 3 times a day? Or 5 minutes 6 times a day or 3 minutes 10 times a day?
It turns out that when it comes to strength training that can be more effective than doing all your exercise at once.
And easier to fit into your day. Especially because there is no need to change clothes, no warm up, no cool down, and you won’t break a sweat.
The only real catch is you still have to do these workout consistently. But if you can find the time to check social media or the news multiple times during your busy day you can find the time to do this.
There is a name for this kind of training, it is called Grease the Grove, commonly abbreviated to GTG. And it was popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline in his book “The Naked Warrior.”
The protocol is simple:
•1 -3 exercises
•1 - 5 reps
•1 set of each
•Repeated many times through the day.
And the results are fantastic! They include getting strong, adding years to your life, and decreasing your chances of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
Why does this work? Specificity + Frequent Practice = Success
How many times a day do I need to do this?
There are two ways we figure out how often you do your exercise. Time schedule and Action schedule.
In this method we figure out how long we want you to rest between exercise sessions. For example, it could be every hour, every 45 minutes, every 90 minutes.
The maximum time I would recommend is 2 hours. The reason is assuming that you are awake for 16 hours a day this theoretically allows you to get in 8 sessions. When life happens and you miss a session here and there the number of sessions starts getting a little low.
For the minimum I would recommend 30 minutes. The reason is you need to make a full recovery between each session for this method to work.
The time is not necessarily “all day long.” For example, you could be doing sessions every hour for your 8 hour work day. Or every 30 minutes while at home in the evening. We intentionally mix it up and there are other factors like your exercise selection and environment.
When people use this method I insist they use a reminder system. You could set these up on your phone or my personal favorite - my watch, which has an “auto” mode in the timer that restarts automatically every time it goes off. Perfect for this system because it doesn’t give you another reason to be glued to a phone.
You could watch a clock, but in our modern world you will probably get distracted and miss the times you picked. Opt for the reminder.
Option two is to link your workouts to a specific action. For example, every time you walk through your bedroom door. Or past the fridge. Or anything else that happens often in your day.
Sometimes this will happen more often and closer together, sometimes they will be further apart. The fluctuations will even out over time so don’t sweat them.
But pick something that happens at least 5 - 10 times a day.
You could also use an action you are addicted to, such as checking social media. This has the added effect of when you start getting tired you will do these actions less often.
Since you are not committed to the same schedule every day, there is an opportunity for variety. You can go back and forth from action to time schedule or stay with time and change it as often as you wish.
This workout can be done as many as six days a week, and should be done at least 4. You need to get frequent practice for your body to adapt.
Which exercises can I do?
Compound exercises. What does Compound exercise mean? It is an exercise that uses multiple muscles and joints at the same time.
This is the only way you will get a full body workout with 1 - 3 exercises. Bicep curls alone won’t get you good results.
Unless you spend a large amount of time in a gym or have equipment at home, bodyweight exercises tend to lend themselves best to this system. There are two reasons for this: most bodyweight exercises are compound exercises and your body is the only tool that you always have with you.
What about variety? Variety is achieved Progressions, Regressions, and Variations.
For example, say you choose a squat for your exercise. Great choice.
You could do a bodyweight squat or you could progress to a one-legged squat or you could regress to a box squat using a chair. Or you could move from squatting with your heels flat on the floor to a Hindu squat where your knees come up.
In his book, Pavel recommends using the one-legged squat and one-arm push up. This gives you a great full body workout with only two exercises which can be scaled back to a point where everyone can do them (regressions) or scaled up to versions only elite athletes can do (progressions).
You can pick up the book or send me a message.
If you want me to choose for you with no information about you as an individual or the situation that is specific to your lifestyle, the answer is the one legged squat and one arm push up. Because the Party is always right.
Why only 1 set of up to 5 reps each sessions?
The short answer is time and convenience. You could certainly build endurance or your aerobic fitness using a protocol like this but those workouts take longer and then more things pop up that take your time. Like breaking a sweat, changing clothes, needing to shower, etc.
The long answer is that strength is the master physical quality, not to be confused with “the only” or “the most important.” It doesn't mean that strength is the only thing that matters or the most important quality to develop. What it does mean is that when you develop the quality of strength you get the ability to develop other physical qualities. If you don’t have the strength to maintain good posture, good luck keeping your self injury-free while you run. Until you get really strong, you usually get a very good return on investment when it comes to getting stronger. That return is improved performance and body composition.
Research shows that strength is best developed when you do 5 repetitions of an exercise or fewer. The catch is the repetitions have to be challenging.
How do we make the exercise challenging?
This can be done in a number of ways, such as load, leverage, and exercise progressions.
Load. This is the most straightforward. If it’s not challenging to do an exercise with 10 pounds, try 20. Or 100, Or 1000. Unfortunately with bodyweight exercises this is impractical. But fortunately we have many other options.
Redistribute weight between your limbs. If push-ups are easy, you could put your feet on a chair. Now you have “more” weight on your hand for the drill.
Manipulate the Range of Motion. Sitting down on a chair is easier than sitting down on a low stool. Sitting down and getting up is a great exercise, called the box squat. The lower the chair the greater the range of motion, which translates to increased difficulty.
Use an unstable environment. Having to balance yourself increases the difficulty of an exercise. Being able to do 2 squats doesn’t mean you can do a single one-legged squat. Neither does being able to do a squat with your entire bodyweight loaded on your back.
Vary the leverage. Have you ever tried to open a bottle of beer without a bottle opener? Not easy. With a bottle opener is very easy because the bottle opener acts as a lever. The more leverage you have, the easier things are. For example, a push-up with the knees on the ground has a shorter level than on the toes. This is the main reason knee push-ups are so much easier. There isn’t that much weight in your lower legs, it is the length of the lever arm.
Stop the bounce and momentum. There are two ways to use this method: dead starts and dynamic isometrics. In a dead start you make a complete stop in a relaxed position. For example on a push-up, instead of pushing back up immediately you would relax on the floor and push up again from a dead stop. Much harder. The second technique, dynamic isometrics, means stopping in a working position. For example, while doing your push-ups, on the way back up, stop when your chest is 3 inches off the ground and hold for 5 seconds.
How challenging do the exercises need to be?
It needs to vary for long-term results. In the short-term you can repeat the same workout for a while. How long is short-term? While it is different for everyone, a simple test is when it gets boring.
But, you can also vary the workout everyday or even within the day. Sometimes pick an easy variation, some days pick a hard variation. Some days pick one in between.
How do you know it is too difficult?
This is simple. If you can’t do all of your repetitions perfectly the exercise is too difficult (or the number of repetitions is too high).
This is a hard rule for GTG. No exceptions.
How do you know if it is too easy?
This is difficult, but generally if it takes no focus or effort. The reason this is much trickier is because it is dependent on your ability to focus and knowledge of the details of exercises. Both of which can get infinitely deep.
This is an excellent way to start exercising or to fit more exercise into an already packed schedule. Give it a try and watch your results improve no matter what level of fitness you are currently at.