Health & Wellness

Fitness Strategies for the Busy Professional

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Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. She is frequently lost in a good book when she is not writing about how technology impacts our everyday health and wellness.

Staying in shape while pursuing a meaningful career is tough. When you’ve got your nose to the grindstone at work, you may struggle to complete basic tasks like doing the laundry, let alone improve your bench press or run a marathon. 

However, the world’s most successful people find ways to improve their fitness and achieve their health-related goals. That’s because they know the health risks of an inactive lifestyle and don’t want to be sidelined by conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis.

Find time to work up a sweat in your free time by setting clear goals. This will help you make some scheduling adjustments and ensure that you can prioritize your professional and physical growth.

Goal Setting

Woman stretching with headphones in

As a successful professional, you already know the value of goals. Without clear goals, your company cannot grow, your staff cannot excel, and you cannot find ways to improve your offering. Effective goal setting can also help you settle on an exercise regime that suits you. Start your fitness journey by setting highly effective SMART goals like: 

  • Specific: Don’t just say that you want to “look like celebrity X.” Set a goal related to fitness like “increase my muscle mass by X” or “improve my 5K time by 2 minutes”. 
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a metric by which you’ll measure your progress. This ensures that you have an objective target that will guide your progress. 
  • Achievable: Set goals that are realistic for you and your schedule. This may mean that you set the goal of running 5K in the next year rather than a marathon if you’re currently a couch potato. 
  • Relevant: Why is your goal important to you? What health benefits do you expect to reap? Answering these questions ensures that you stick with your fitness regime. 
  • Time-bound: When do you want to hit your target? Setting a time-bound goal is key for fitness, as it will incentivize you to work out even when you’d rather sit on the couch. 

Setting effective SMART goals can help you find a fitness plan that motivates you, too. For example, if you want to gain a few pounds of muscle, you’ll want to opt for a 5- to 10-week hypertrophy plan. Alternatively, if you want to improve your cardiovascular health, you could sign up for a Couch-to-5K program with a local running group. 

Spreading It Out

Many people mistakenly believe that you have to spend hours in the gym every day to see any observable results. While some professional bodybuilders may spend multiple hours pumping iron, you can save time and improve your fitness by shortening and spreading your workouts throughout the week. 

Splitting three-hour-long workouts into six 30-minute lifts can also help you form a healthy habit. This is key if you’re a busy professional, as you need a routine to follow if you want to stick with your new-found love of working out. 

Spreading your workouts out over the week can reduce fatigue and improve recovery, too. Shorter workouts involve fewer movements, meaning you won’t be entirely exhausted when you finish your final set and hit the showers. This is extremely important if you’re a leader in your workplace and can’t afford to feel overly fatigued. You don’t want to blow all your energy while lifting weights and should still feel sharp when you leave the gym. 

Pre-Dawn Workouts

Finding time to get a workout in can feel impossible if you’re constantly running between meetings. You don’t want to use your lunch break for exercise, either, as you need to refuel and rest during your time away from work. 

Pre-work exercise has become a staple for many busy professionals. Getting up before the crack of dawn to tie your laces and hit the road ensures that nothing can get in the way of your fitness goals, as the kids are still in bed and your boss can’t call you into their office. 

If running isn’t your thing, consider transforming your garage into a home gym. A garage gym is perfect for busy professionals as you’ll save time that would’ve been spent driving to a leisure center and can shower in the comfort of your own home. You can get a great workout in your garage the most out of your home gym with minimal equipment, too. Get started with garage gym workouts that include: 

  • High-volume bodyweight workouts with plenty of squats bends, and bridges
  • Barbell-based programs that use progressive overload principles to increase your strength
  • Full body plans that use dumbbells to build muscle and improve your conditioning
  • Dance-inspired workouts that improve your cardiovascular fitness while you have fun  

These plans can be completed with minimal equipment and are perfect for beginners. As you gain experience, consider investing in equipment like adjustable dumbbells, barbells, and a pull-up bar. This will ensure you can get a great full-body workout in before most people have even opened their eyes.  

Meal Prepping

Exercise is just one-half of the fitness equation. Follow through on your running, swimming, and lifting by eating a diet that fuels your body and helps you achieve your goals. However, if you lead a busy work life, you probably don’t have time to cook every day of the week. 

Improve the quality of your diet and fuel yourself properly by meal prepping. Start small with breakfast items like overnight oats or frozen burritos, and pull together a few snack items like trail mix and veggie pots. This will get you off to a great start and help you form a healthy eating habit. 

When you start to prepare meals like lunch, try to include a mixture of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and lean proteins. This means that most of your meals will be comprised of foods like: 

  • Whole grains: Brown rice,quinoa, whole wheat bread, popcorn, oatmeal. 
  • Fruits and vegetables: broccoli, spinach, kale, and carrot with banana, grape, apples, and oranges. 
  • Lean proteins: Fish, beans, tofu, loin-cut beef, and chicken.
  • Healthy fats: Avocado, olive oil, and nuts. 

Season these staple ingredients and try to eat them before your next workout. Foods like bananas and brown rice are high in carbohydrates, meaning you’ll be full of energy when it’s time to hit the weights or lace up your running shoes. 

Lean on frozen fruits and vegetables if you struggle to prep fresh produce in time. Frozen produce can save you time and contains just as much goodness as freshly plucked apples, pears, or pineapples. 


Staying in shape can help you achieve your career goals and boost your self-esteem. Working out can provide a welcome stress relief from the day’s trials and tribulations, too. Consider picking an exercise regime that works for you, like yoga for office workers, and invest in a home gym to reduce the risk of skipping your next workout. 

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