top of page


Money troubles, increased workload, relationship issues, new borns...

We have all been there. No matter how much of a gym bunny you are, sometimes life throws a curve ball and the gym becomes less of a priority, sometimes even a hindrance!

However, you can still maintain your strength and fitness, and even make progress during this time if you can be flexible and adapt...

Here are 5 methods, I learned while travelling, which you can use when time is limited, money is short or motivation fading, to keep pushing forward in the gym:

1. Reduce Volume, Increase Intensity

When we are training hard, especially guys, we tend to train as much as possible, trying to fit in as much as we can into each session. More, is surely better right? Wrong, of course.

When time is available it’s very easy to stay motivated but as soon as time becomes scarce and our minds are concerned with greater priorities, motivation is fast to disappear and we find it hard to commit to our programme.

Make it easy on yourself. Reduce your training frequency (sessions per week) and volume (sets per body part) and increase your intensity (load). This means focussing on strength, lifting as much as possible and fully recovering between sets and sessions. This greatly reduces the time demands of training however still ensure you are working hard towards a goal.

Whether you are male or female, training in this manner results in numerous benefits, most of all in strength and muscle tissue density but also in terms of aesthetic goals.

Try a typical 5x5 programme such as;


Bench Press 5x5

Squats 5x5

Bent Row 5x5

+ 2 assistance exercises for 3x10-12 each


Deadlift 5x5

Overhead Press 5x5

Pull Up 5x5

+ 2 assistance exercises for 3x10-12 each


Bench Press 5x5

Squats 5x5

Bent Row 5x5

+ 2 assistance exercises for 3x10-12 each

2. Create nutrition principles rather than trying to stick to a strict diet

Willpower and discipline are a finite recourse, and so are limited when other stress stimuli are placed upon the mind and body.

For example, when we are relatively stress free, training and nutrition can be made a priority and are pretty easy to remain consistent with, because our discipline is not being taxed in other areas. However, introduce another stressful stimulus, such as a new-born, workload, travel or relationship difficulties and willpower and discipline are being exhausted by a number of different factors, reducing your ability to maintain a training programme or strict diet.

Rather than beat yourself up for missing your last meal of chicken and veg, become more flexible by applying more lenient ‘principles’, rather than rules.

When we are motivated, we can all take our nutrition too far and too often we try to follow an unreasonably complicated plan. Try following these, simple to follow, principles next time you feel motivation fading and continue making progress when the going gets tough.

This also works really well when trying to eat well on a budget.

Principle 1: Track Calories & Protein with My Fitness Pal, ignore Carbs and Fats

Principle 2: Eat protein with every meal

Principle 3: Avoid processed foods but do not worry about eating ‘clean’

Principle 4: Eat ‘whole foods’ 80% of the time and do not worry where the remaining 20% comes from.

3. Learn to adapt on the spot and look for inspiration

Sometimes training sessions just do not go our way. The gym can be rammed, equipment we want can be busy, machines can be out of order, people will try to interrupt you, you could be travelling with only very VERY basic facilities available (we have really struggled in Sri Lanka and some of the smaller islands!), so it is very important to learn how to think on the spot and adopt your session to suit your environment.

If you have a lot of experience in the gym, this can be quite easy for you, however not all of us are hardcore gym bunnies with an exercise encyclopaedia inside our heads.

I like to keep a ‘playbook’ in the note section of my phone, filled with workouts I have either come up with myself or seen on social media, blogs etc. That way, even if I do not copy the workout exactly, I still have inspiration for coming up with a workout quick.

Here are a few examples;

Barbell Complex

10 rounds of;

12x Deadlift

9x Hang Clean

6x Push Press

…all with one bar at 60kg.

Sweat Fest

10 rounds of;

200m Run

12x Dumbbell Snatch at 22.5kg

6x Burpees

Kettlebell Complex

15-minute AMRAP of;

x12 Deadlift

x9 Swings

x6 Push Press (Right Arm)

x6 Rack Hold Squat (Right Arm)

x6 Push Press (Left Arm)

x6 Rack Hold Squat (Left Arm)

…all with one 18-24kg Kettlebell

4. Create a short term, attainable goal

Training can become stagnant when we do not have a goal, and even if we do have a goal, when the gym has to take a back seat for other priorities, that goal can become forgotten or a lost cause.

When the going gets tough, time becomes an issue or money stretched, keep the goal in the back of your mind but place it on pause for a limited time.

Instead, come up with a short-term goal you know you can achieve with limited attention. Do not aim too high but choose a goal which you know will keep you motivated to degree, without causing you to stress or worry about big targets.

The trick is to choose a short term, smaller goal which still leads you along the path to achieving your larger goals.

For example; if your goal is to lose a stone, but you get stuck in messy break up with a partner, forget the stone and aim to simply maintain your weight or lose 1-2kg within a 4-week ‘break up period’.

You could even make it even simpler by just aiming to achieve 3-4 gym sessions per week, without fail and forget about your weight completely.

In this case, the gym time with your phone in locker would probably become a welcome break!

5. Seek enjoyment rather than routine

When we are stressed, upset, skint or just bored, the gym can be the last thing we want to do!

So, why make it even worse with a dull workout you were following just because it was part of a plan?

I did this for years and it nearly ruined my relationship with fitness. Due to my work and affiliate responsibilities I felt the need to be ‘big’ and very muscular, even though I really did not like the type of training this entailed, and once under other stressful situations, like my last year at university, a messy break up and running a fast-growing business, I began to resent my training sessions and the time I thought I should have been spending on my other pressing issues, in the gym.

The answer… F**K IT, do things you enjoy.

I started martial arts again and started following a CrossFit approach in the gym. Two types training I love, however training methods I try to limit due to my occupational responsibilities.

Motivation shot up and my workouts became my escape, my stress buster and my hour of freedom every day.


bottom of page