J is for… Juggling

Whilst not finding time to train is inexcusable, it’s not always possible to fully immerse yourself in a solid training cycle. Work, family, exams, trips away from home and any number of additional pressures will stand in the way at some point in time. When it does, you have two choices:

a)    Make the best of it

b)    Quit

Are you an a) or a b) ?

Think PPM

So, hopefully you’re in the a) camp. Here’s what you do to make the best of a bad situation:

  • Plan

Training should always be planned in advance; when your schedule changes so should your plan. Work out the time you have available, where you’ll be and what you’ll have access to. Plan your training as best as you can based on the knowledge that you have. It’s not a bad idea to have a worst case scenario contingency option as a backup too, more on this below.

  • Prioritise

You need to have laser-like focus with your training when the going gets tough. Focus on the exercises, drills and workout splits that give you the most bang for your buck. Again, we’ll have a little more on this below.

  • Maintain

When training ceases to become your number one priority then it’s time to switch to maintenance mode. This doesn’t mean that you stop trying to improve in the gym when you get there, it just means that you’re no longer devoting your training time and recovery resources to chasing it

Train Smart

Barry Speiring presented at the UKSCA conference last month on the topic of minimal dose training. It’s the idea that during certain periods of time we need to look at what is the minimal amount of training we get away with. The key, regardless of the fitness component you’re training, is to maintain the intensity of your training. The research is pretty clear in this regards, you can reduce the volume and frequency of training without impacting performance, just DO NOT THE DROP INTENSITY! As little as a single set performed once a week appears enough of a stimulus to maintain strength levels.

Time efficient training

So, we know we can get away with reducing the volume and frequency of training, but how else do we ensure that our training is the most efficient use of our time:

  • Perform whole body sessions
  • Keep the warm-up minimal
  • Use only compound exercises
  • Superset if possible
  • Remember the size principle

My go to programme?

Here’s an example of what I tend to revert to when life takes over:

A1) Trap bar deadlift 3 x 5

A2) Military Press 6 x 5

A3) Countermovement Jump 6 x 5

I’ve hardly reinvented the wheel here, deadlift and press programmes are nearly as old as the iron game itself. Add in some jump work and bob’s your uncle.

What to do when it really hits the fan

Worst case scenario – you have no access to any equipment, minimal space and next to no time. This is where your contingency kicks in.

  • Use your bodyweight

Needless to say, your body will always be there. There are plenty of pretty advanced bodyweight exercises out there so you really have no excuse!

  • Train fast

When you can’t heavy, make sure you train fast. The obvious choice for the lower body would any jumping variations, the obvious for the upper body a ballistic push up.

  • Know that anything is better than nothing

Don’t stress over what you can’t control. Moreover, it will probably be more detrimental to you than missing the actual training. Do what you can and leave it at that.


We can’t always build our lives around our training, but there isn’t really an excuse for doing nothing. Hopefully this article has given you some ideas of how to attack it when life takes over. Please feel free to share any of your own experiences or pearls of wisdom when it comes to juggling training – just drop a comment below.

Exercises, Performance, Psychology , , ,

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