No Time to Exercise? 30 Minutes is All You Need! Really!

Most moms would agree that the biggest obstacle to exercise is time.  We do so much for everyone around us and too often, we convince ourselves that making time to exercise is simply not do-able with our busy schedules.

I am here to show you that it can be done – and how.

First, a few key principles to understand:

  1. These days, lucky for us, research shows that it is not about how much time you exercise; it is all about intensity and effort.
  2. You may need to reframe what is important.  Exercise is not just this physical thing you are doing for your body.  It actually makes us more mentally and emotionally able to do all the other crap we need to do.  Yes, people, I am suggesting that making exercise a part of your day (as much a part as brushing your teeth) can make mommahood easier, not harder.
  3. Accept that long gone are the days of a luxurious one-hour pilates class followed by an energizing post workout smoothie at the cute café next door to the pilates studio.  You may only get such a luxury once a week, or… never.  But you can still fit fitness in – it just may be only 30 minutes while the baby is napping and the 3 year old is in preschool.  And that is ok!
  4. You do not need fancy equipment, a large space or a gym membership to get a good workout.  Using your own body weight and that small square of space in your living room next to the mess of toys is all you need.
  5. Movement is movement.  Some days you just don’t have any time to take even 30 minutes for yourself but perhaps you can walk to that next meeting or commit to taking the stairs at work and stretching at your desk for 10 minutes.  It all counts.

Ok, so you have 30 minutes and you are inside your tiny apartment.   What do you do?

I call it “3 sets of 3” and if you ask any of my clients, they will tell you that this is the method I use when working with them as well as for my own personal workouts.

  • Begin with a 5 minute warm up.  This means moving your body in some way – marching or jogging in place, jumping jacks, knee lifts.  Move and try to use your abdominal muscles by engaging your abs and breathing through the movement.   For example, lift your knees not using your hip flexor muscles but instead using your abs by exhaling and drawing in your abs with each knee lift.
  • Next, we come to the 1st set of 3 exercises (set 1) – one exercise that is cardio based, one exercise that is strength based and one exercise that is ab-based:
  1. Cardio – do one minute (or 45 seconds or 30 seconds) of some intense cardio movement.  Examples include mountain climbers, running in place, skaters, steps ups (if you have a chair or bench to step on), walking planks, high knees, burpees.
  2. Strength – do 12 (or 10 or 8) reps of some exercise that strengthens your body.  Examples include push ups, tricep dips, squats, shoulder raises, rows, lunges.
  3. Abs – do 12 (or 10 or 8) reps of some exercise that tones and strengthens your abs.  Note that if you have a diastasis recti, these exercises in particular should be modified and should never include crunches.  Examples include planks, side planks, heel taps, leg lifts etc.
  • Repeat the three exercises 3x without breaks = set 1.  That should mean that, as an example, you do 45 seconds of mountain climbers, 10 squats and 12 reps of a plank exercise THREE TIMES.
  • 30 second break.  Drink water.
  • Next, you do a 2nd set of 3 exercises (set 2).  Again, one exercise that is cardio based, one exercise that is strength based and one exercise that is ab-based.  Repeat this set of exercises THREE TIMES.
  • 30 second break.  Drink water.
  • Next, your 3rd set of 3 exercises (set 3).  Yes, one that is cardio based, one that is strength based and one that is ab-based.  Repeat this set of exercises THREE TIMES.
  • Drink water.
  • Stretch for 10 minutes.

Depending on how long you set aside for each exercise (30 seconds versus one minute or 8 reps versus 12 reps), the entire Three Sets of Three will have lasted anywhere from about 18 to 35 minutes.  Tack on the warm up and stretch time and you’ve got yourself a complete workout completed in around 30-40 minutes.

Bottom line mommas, just 30 minutes a day can have a huge impact on your fitness level.  You can fit it in, so go ahead and make it happen.





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