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how to stay in shape when you're busy

How to stay fit and in shape when you are short on time [Infographic]

It’s easy to workout regularly and stay in shape when you have the motivation, time, and energy to do so. But it’s how you stick to your priorities when life gets busy or vacation comes along that will really help you in the long run.

With only 10 minutes a day and virtually no equipment, this do-anywhere workout guide by Precision Nutrition will help you maintain your fitness until you’re back in the game.

But first… Why is doing something so much better than doing nothing?

Well, on one hand regular exercise gives us this “training effect” – adaptations in the brain, circulatory system, respiratory system, metabolism, muscles, and bones that optimize health and function.

However, stop exercising and your body start adapting to that – doing nothing – so you start to lose all those benefits you worked so hard for. Plus, the longer you stay out of your regular exercise routine the harder it is to get back in the game. Kind of like the snowball effect I discussed with the One Bad Meal Strategy to help keep you on track when your nutrition options are less than ideal.

On top of losing the benefits of exercise, going through stressful times can also make you lose your health and fitness conditioning even faster.

This quick and easy do-anywhere workout works because:

  • It requires minimal time and equipment, so you can do it just about anywhere, anytime.
  • It uses “compound exercises” – big muscles, big range of motion – so you get more out of each rep.
  • It maintains joint and tissue health.
  • It helps you avoid the all-or-nothing downward spiral of feeling “off-track” with exercise.
  • It gives dietary sugar a purpose, mitigating chances of increased fat storage and weight gain.
  • It keeps stress in check.

Guidelines for the do-anywhere workout:

  • Move through each exercise in sequence (this is called a circuit).
  • Do 5 reps of each exercise.
  • Don’t rest between exercises.
  • Rest 1-2 minutes at the end of the circuit.
  • Repeat for a total of 2-4 circuits.

These guidelines are adaptable. You can shuffle exercises around, skip a few, add in new ones, come up with different variations to add resistance, or modify total number or reps and rounds according to how much time you have and how thorough a workout you want to get.

The most important thing is to just get some full-body movement in each day, and keeping it short and simple increases the likelihood of you actually doing it.

The exercises:

  • Bear crawl.
  • Reverse lunge.
  • Push-up.
  • Squat.
  • Single-arm dumbbell row.
  • Banded hip extension.

All you need for this workout is a resistance band and a pair of dumbbells in a weight that is moderately challenging.

If you don’t have dumbbells, you can get creative and uses whatever you have with you to add a bit of weight to your movements. Suitcases, water bottles, sandbags, rocks, etc.

If you don’t have a resistance band for the banded hip extensions you can perform glute bridges and hip thrusts using only your body weight. 

Make it easy:

When you’re busy and stressed, working memory and willpower are low. Here’s how to make a minimal workout happen:

  • Keep your resistance bands, dumbbells or workout clothes somewhere visible, where you’ll practically trip over them. Behavioural triggers make exercise more automatic and less thought-driven.
  • Don’t think of the workout as a chore or punishment. Positivity keeps your stress hormone response in check and reduces hedonic compensation (“I did push-ups so I earned this brownie”).
  • Can’t do one or more of the exercises in the circuit? Skip them. If possible, focus on the legs, which require greater muscle recruitment and energy burn.


Source: Precision Nutrition.

If you are like us and absolutely love infographics, check out what else we have featured here.

As you can see, being “too busy” is not a good enough reason to let your health and fitness levels drop, and deep down we all know it.

Simplify your workout as much as it needs to be simplified to fit your schedule, even if it’s just doing squats on Monday, pushups on Wednesday, and rows on Friday with some burpees or planks on days in between – but do something!

When you have more time, you can then start adding in more exercises.

And vice versa. If you have lots of time and a regular gym routine, great. But when life gets busy don’t abandon it completely. Drop the fluff and stick to your fundamental exercises.

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