Why There's Never a Good Excuse Not to Have a Plan B

Soldiers run stadium steps.
Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, run up and down the steps at the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium, April 26, 2012. (Staff Sgt. Ben Navratil/U.S. Army photo)

In life, it is always good to have a Plan B. 

A Plan B is simply a different route to get to your destination when your situation changes. Plan B also can be a completely different goal or destination. 

In the military, we called these contingency plans. Every phase of the mission had contingencies, and even our contingencies had contingencies. Even the best designed plans can get screwed up. That is life. With regards to your fitness, you need a contingency plan, or Plan B, when life gets in the way. 

This is something you can do quickly and anywhere just so you can keep up the habit of doing something that is going to help you move toward your health and fitness goals.

You need to have a favorite go-to group of exercises or quick cardio event in case you do not have time for your normal 45- to 60-minute, or longer, workout of the day. Or you can find another section in the day for you to squeeze in a 20- to 30-minute workout, like a lunch break or a 15-minute walk after a meal. 

Here is a list of some of the most common (and lame) excuses why you cannot exercise today, and some ingenious Plan B solutions to counter the excuses.  Some of these excuses are because you caught a cold or illness, got busy with work or were just plain lazy. We all have used some of these in our lives. 

Some days, you can just fit in a Plan B like these:

I Don't Miss Many Workouts, but When I Do ...

I call it a rest day and focus on mobility and stretching through the day and as I am winding down for the evening. "Live to fight another day."

No Plan B

There are many who start their day with a workout. Chances are, you will not have a conflict that pops up at 5:30-6:30 a.m., and you can complete Plan A as planned. 

Quote from Chuck:  "Plan A for me is no Plan B. Plan B is what got me into trouble in the past. Now, I start my day with a workout so that I don't have to count on a Plan B or hope I have time after work. If I have a flight, or some other event early in the a.m., my 'Plan B' is to wake up earlier."

Work Late, Work Early, Too Much Commuting

Work travel sometimes is a killer of workouts. One option is to leave earlier than rush-hour traffic and find a gym, park or community center near your work and work out before work, during lunch or quickly after work. Working out after work personally is tough, but it is a great stress reliever and can help you time your travel later when the rush hour has decreased (maybe).

Too Cold, Too Hot, Too Late, Too Early

Some excuses are legitimate; some are not. Acclimating to your surroundings is tough, especially if the temperatures are dangerous for humans. But as Randy states, "Unless it is a typhoon or a hurricane, you can go outside to train." Working out too late can be a challenge if you are trying to go to sleep within the next few hours. You may be better off going to sleep and waking up earlier and getting the workout done in the morning, versus working out and getting that second wind that usually follows a workout and struggling with sleeping that night. For the too-early excuse, it is only early if you go to sleep late.

Gym Too Crowded

Here is one you will see the month of January as a mass of New Year's resolution folks will enter the gym as well. You can do a few things. Change the time you train to a non-rush-hour time or change locations and go outside or get a calisthenics and dumbbell workout done in your home. Having a TRX is never a bad idea for a Plan B workout program. Many also pop in a workout video for 30 minutes and get a workout done in the living room when the gym is too crowded or the day got away from them.

Some Quick Workout Plan B's

Treadmill or bike workout 20 minutes

PT Progression Series #1: PT Pyramids

PT Progression #2 is the SUPER SETS


Repeat 10 times.

  • Jumping jacks 10
  • Push-ups 10 (variety of wide, triceps, regular, etc.)

Repeat 10 times.

  • Jumping jacks 10
  • Squats 10

Tabata intervals on bike or elliptical: 10-15 minutes of a 20-second sprint/10 seconds easy

30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 10-15 minutes: Pick 3-4 exercises like push-ups, burpees, squats, lunges and plank pose. Do 30 seconds of a harder exercise like burpees, then "rest" with plank pose for 30 seconds. Go hard or easy for 30 seconds with as many or as few exercises as you wish.  In 10-15 minutes, you will be done.

If you have one of those days and you missed a workout, do not make it a big deal. Admit it and move on. Call it a rest day and make it up over the weekend. If you can schedule five workouts a week and fit in two rest days when you need them during your seven-day week, you will have accomplished more than most people. 

When in doubt, keep moving.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

Want to Learn More About Military Life?

Whether you're thinking of joining the military, looking for fitness and basic training tips, or keeping up with military life and benefits, Military.com has you covered. Subscribe to Military.com to have military news, updates and resources delivered directly to your inbox.

Story Continues