Defeating the No-Time Excuse: How to Exercise in Small Chunks of Time


When you ask someone how much time they really have to work out each week, they often say anywhere from six to eight hours. I know – this sounds like a lot. And when it comes to a strength training program, you wouldn’t want to train that often anyway.

So it’s important to look realistically at how often you can train: that is, the amount of time you actually will train. You say you can work out starting at 5 a.m., but will you do it? Even if you don’t have other pressing engagements at the crack of dawn, it might be tortuous for you to start exercising at that hour. You may have time to work out before dinner on the way home from school, but will you be fueled and energized?

That’s not to say that you should use these situations as an excuse, but it’s important to be honest about the best times for your workouts. Keep in mind that everyone is time-crunched, both students and those already in the workforce. Once out of college you’re oftentimes beginning a career that demands long hours. And once you have kids you discover the true meaning behind “time-crunched” and “sleep-deprived.” But this is just a fact of life – it doesn’t have to mean you can’t be fit and healthy.

The difference between those who reach their fitness goals and those who don’t is that some people are consistent and follow through – and others don’t.

And that is the bottom line.

It’s well-known now that exercise is just as beneficial in small chunks (10 to 15 minutes at a time) as longer sessions. According to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition:

Adults should get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity. You need to do this type of activity for at least 10 minutes at a time as intervals shorter than this do not have the same health benefits. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least two days a week.”[1]

For weight loss, focus on cleaning up your diet while getting the required amount of exercise. Remember, you can’t out-train a bad diet – exercise alone won’t help you lose weight. However, exercise is crucial for maintaining weight loss.

Who doesn’t have 10 minutes? The increased energy you’ll have for your daily demands is enough benefit alone, not to mention your increased heart/lung health and calorie burn.

Check out these ideas for your 10- or 20-minute workouts:

As you can see, anyone has time for exercise. Questions? Hit me up! I offer online personal training programs and I also train clients in the Denver area.


16 thoughts on “Defeating the No-Time Excuse: How to Exercise in Small Chunks of Time

  1. This is the #1 thing I hear from people when they say they can’t lose weight. They don’t have “time” to workout. News flash: no one has time these days! But you make time for things that are important. For me, my health is important. So if that means I don’t see my friends every week for happy hour in lieu of the gym, that’s ok. I still find time to see my friends AND workout.

    I also try to fit in walks and things like that when I’m short on time. Working out during my lunch break at work also helps!


  2. AS always, a fantastic post Suzanne!!! It is so true! People focus on that they need to do all at once when they can break it up…

    Me, I like the all at once & that is why I do mine early & make sacrifices to do that but many just are not ready in the am & I get that… it is all about choices too! 🙂

    Love that you brought in food since NOPE, ya can’t out train a bad diet! 🙂


  3. right on!
    diet is important throughout, that’s for sure. even simple steps like eliminating soda of any kind will make a big difference. I’m a big fan of body weight exercises, and have been known to do them during conference calls at work. why not?
    keep up the great work, friend!


  4. Hi there, just found your blog. This is a great post and definitely one of my resolutions for 2013. I’m guilty of using the “no time” excuse, but it’s really about reorganizing priorities.


    • Thanks, great to connect! I recommend to clients that they set a goal to work out consistently for three solid weeks, no exceptions (ok, except illness ;)). After three weeks the habit is more likely to stick AND you won’t want to go back to the low-energy state we all get in when we don’t exercise regularly. Cheers!


  5. Suzanne, you are helping defeat the biggest excuse people give for not exercising! All movement helps and those short bursts can make such a big difference. Last week, I was pressed for time and took a cardio pilates class that involved tabata sets on the reformer using the jump board – it was a great way to get a strength and cardio workout all at once!


  6. Suzanne- I love your site!! I just happened upon it when I was reading about tall people doing pullups. Anyway, great post here! I’m also a NASM trainer and tell my clients that the “no time” excuse doesn’t fly! You can get a great workout right at home with the stairs or a jump rope. I currently teach HIIT and it’s just a 20 minute workout! This is great, I’ll be following your stuff!


    • Too cool Kara! You make a good point that workouts don’t have to be multi-faceted every time- a single high-intensity activity is a good goal. Thanks so much for saying hi, great to connect!


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