Ask Stew: Working Out On a Tight Schedule

Army Olympian Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher participates in the 200-meter freestyle at UIPM World Cup I in Pomona. (Photo: Tim Hipps)
Army Olympian Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher participates in the 200-meter freestyle at UIPM World Cup I in Pomona. (Photo: Tim Hipps)

Finding time to train when working long hours with a long commute can be done, but you have to be quick and determined — even if for only 15-20 minutes. Something is better than nothing and a few short workouts will help you be more productive when the mind starts to wander.

Hey Stew!

I came across your articles on recently and have taken up quite a few things to incorporate into my fitness plan. Just needed a little advice regarding a small thing. I am a medical student and the only physical activity I had until a while back was A LOT of walking around in the hospital and campus. I recently started swimming early morning to get some exercise and would do some laps for about 30-40 minutes. I was looking to incorporate some of the early morning exercises mentioned in your website, but was anxious to start it off at once considering I have hardly trained before. Do you recommend doing something low intensity before I move on to more strenuous cardio. If yes, any suggestions from your end for the same. And for how long before I move on to increased intensity workouts? I'd really appreciate your advice. Thanks a lot in advance! Vin

Vin — I would keep doing the early morning swim workouts as they help you quickly wake up - especially after a long night of studying. On days you cannot get to the pool in the morning - go for a brisk walk or start adding in some jogging. Maybe 1 minute of running / 1 minute of walking for 15-20 minutes.

Eventually over a few weeks, you can build up to running without stopping to walk, but give it some time to progress. See beginner running progression.

However, in the evening when you still have to be productive, I have found a second quick and intense workout for 20 minutes can help wake you up after dinner. So, in the evening, try to mix in some weight machine circuits or calisthenics (super sets, pyramids) or just stretching after being on your feet all day. Stretch your legs and lower back especially, as they will get tight over time and start to ache without some flexibility training.

See this PDF for a lower back workout plan.

You can also get some PFT ideas here.

Check this page for more swimming workouts.

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