Skip to main content

Trust Me, You Have the Time: Fitness Excuses Under Scrutiny

Let’s face it: Life is tough!  Work alone is hard enough, but we also have our daily chores and errands to run, our friendship and familial duties, various hobbies, and emergencies to deal with. In addition, we’re supposed to be trying to get ahead in life, getting sufficient sleep, and maintaining a social life, all while keeping everything in good balance. Now we’re being told to add more onto our plates – exercise – without completely falling apart?

You might be thinking to yourself that you simply do not have the time. Furthermore, you might be looking at all of those fit people out there with disgust. Clearly they starve themselves and are all slaves to the gym. There’s absolutely no way that they can lead normal lives, let alone have any fun, right? You’d like to see them try to look good and be fit while dealing with actual responsibilities and real jobs. They couldn’t possibly juggle half of what you deal with, let alone handle your lousy genetics.

Does any of this sound familiar? I’m sure that almost every person, fit or unfit, has felt this way at some time or another. Life can be damn hard, so it’s no surprise that many people struggle to devote ample time toward their fitness. But I’m here to tell you that you do have the time, you’re not too busy, and you can accomplish more by prioritizing your health and fitness.


You Do Have the Time, You’re Just Not Prioritizing

Of all the fitness excuses, “I don’t have the time” has got to be the most common, and also the most lame. First of all, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, the same 168 hours in a week, the same 730 hours in a month, and the same 8,766 hours in a year. Fit people don’t have 25 hours in a day, and most of them work just as hard as you do. Think hard about it – there are fit people who run multiple businesses and are workaholics, and there are unemployed people who are unfit. Fitness and number of hours spent working are not well correlated. I have many gym friends who work 60+ hours per week and still make it to the gym 4-5 days per week, and I also have friends who work part time and still don’t work out. But this is irrelevant. Even if you were working three jobs, you could still find the time to be fit and healthy. Making exercise a habit has more to do with being motivated, dedicated, determined, familiarized, and confident than it does with having ample free-time.

In the past, I’ve written several articles on training for busy people.

Though many people prioritize their health and fitness and dedicate the appropriate amount of time toward allowing them to be fit and healthy, others do not. Being healthy and fit really don’t require that much time. For most people, all it would take would be to make a few lifestyle adjustments, add in 30 minutes per day of resistance training several times per week, and start making proper food choices.


I don’t think people realize what a dramatic impact this has on one’s physique over time. But there’s a caveat – the training must be progressive in nature. Click HERE for a great article on progressive overload. Let’s say that you’re a total beginner female in weight training, and you can currently perform 20 bodyweight squats, 20 Romanian deadlifts with 45 lbs, 20 bench presses with the 45 lb bar, and 20 lat pulldowns with 50 lbs. Say you increased the load just 10 lbs each month for lower body lifts and 5 lbs each month for upper body lifts and performed the same amount of reps. At the end of year one, you’d be performing 20 reps of squats with 120 lbs, 20 reps of RDLs with 165 lbs, 20 reps of bench press with 105 lbs, and 20 lat pulldowns with 110 lbs. You’d be in pretty good shape at this point in time. Say it takes you two years to reach this level of strength – so what? Each month, you’ll be looking better and getting healthier, which is the whole point of exercising. You just need to get the ball rolling and start making exercise a habit.

The Key Elements to Looking and Staying Fit

What are the key elements to looking and staying fit? I’d say that there are three:

  1. Staying at a bodyweight that allows you to be lean (15% bodyfat for males, 20% bodyfat for females)
  2. Performing rigorous exercise at least a couple of times per week (preferably progressive full body resistance training)
  3. Adhering to a sound nutritional strategy (ideal caloric intake and macronutrient split)

The bodyweight that allows you to be lean is highly influenced by genetics, and of course, height. Ideal bodyfat percentages are subjective. Some people prefer to carry a bit more weight and are okay with 20% bodyfat levels, while other people prefer to stay leaner and maintain 10% bodyfat levels year round. In general, most males will appear fit at 15%, whereas most women will appear fit at 20%. Some genetically gifted males can stay under 15% bodyfat levels while weighing 220 lbs or more, but others have to weigh 170 lbs or less in order to stay under 15%. Over time, with progressive weight training and a slight caloric surplus, you can raise your bodyweight while keeping bodyfat percentage constant by packing on mostly solid muscle. You can also stay the same weight while reducing your bodyfat percentage by gaining strength. But you need to make good nutritional choices in terms of total calories and macronutrient split. Rare is the person who can just eat whatever he or she wants and stay lean, especially once the individual advances past the age of 30.

Once You Get Fit, You Don’t Want to Lose it (Plus it’s Much Easier to Maintain)

Your efforts to be lean will likely be much easier once you attain leanness. Once you’re fit, you won’t want to lose it. You won’t cheat as often or as severely. Training tends to be more fun when you’re familiar with resistance training and highly coordinated. After sufficient training, your muscle cells have many more nuclei (through satellite cell activation caused by resistance training), your hormones and enzymes are working in your favor, and you have more metabolic flexibility. We all have to put in the hard work, but it pays dividends in time.


The 20 Most Common Fitness & Health Excuses

Being busy and not having enough time isn’t the only excuse that crops up in fitness, there are numerous others. Below is a list of common fitness excuses – these are all barriers to success.

1. I don’t have the time (I’m too busy)
2. I don’t want to count calories (I don’t want to weigh my food)
3. I don’t want to avoid my favorite foods (I get cranky if I restrict my carbs)
4. I don’t have the energy (I don’t have the motivation, I’m too tired)
5. I don’t want to be obsessed (I don’t want to be a gym rat)
6. I don’t have a trainer (I don’t know what I’m doing)
7. I don’t get a break from the kids
8. Exercise is boring
9. Exercise is painful
10. I’ve tried before and I never see results (nothing works for me)
11. I’m too old
12. I don’t have a gym membership (there’s no gym nearby, I can’t afford a gym membership)
13. I don’t have anyone to train with
14. I’m too fat
15. I’m already thin
16. I’m too stressed out
17. I’m too insecure (I’m too self-conscious)
18. I don’t really care about my health (it’s not a priority)
19. I’ll start up next month and give it my all
20. I don’t want to get bulky

When you scrutinize these excuses, they’re actually quite silly. I’ll refute all 20 excuses in this paragraph. You do have the time, you just have to find ways to sacrifice, better manage your time, and make exercise a habit and a priority. You don’t have to count calories, but if you do you’ll likely see even better results. You can have carbs and inject some of your favorite foods, no matter how seemingly unhealthy they are, into your diet, as long as it fits your macros. Working out will help cure lethargy and give you more energy throughout your day. Training 3-5 days per week isn’t obsessed, it’s healthy – it’s what everyone should be doing – anyone who claims that that amount of training is obsessive is lazy and pathetic. You don’t need a trainer – if you hire one you’ll likely see better results, but you can learn plenty off of the Internet, from gym members, and from magazines. Resistance training becomes more fun and less boring when you’re fit since you’re performing more advanced exercises and using heavier loads. Exercise isn’t painful if you do it right, and it can help you rid chronic pain if you do it right as well. If you tried it and didn’t see results, you weren’t doing it right – try again. You’re never too old to exercise. You can get an amazing workout from just using your bodyweight and minimal equipment, no gym is required. You don’t need a training partner, but if you try you will likely acquire one in time. If you’re fat, then exercise will expedite your progress, so start now. Being thin doesn’t mean you’re fit – exercise is good for everyone. Exercise is a stress-reliever and the benefits will transfer over to other areas of your life. Exercise will help you develop self-confidence and increase your sense of security. If you care about your friends and family, then you should care about your health for them – they don’t want to see you hospitalized or worse, dead. If you say you’re going to start up next month, then do it – people who are “all talk” are annoying – but you should start today, why wait? And finally, you won’t bulk up unless you eat more – any form of exercise causes you to burn more calories, so as long as you don’t follow it up with greater caloric intake, you’ll either lose or maintain your weight.


If you’re not exercising already, you really should start. It will do wonders for your physical and mental health and fitness. In twelve months, you could be in an entirely different body and mindset. See what a difference one year made for Ruth in THIS article – it will blow your mind. I will end this article with a quote.

Excuses are the tools of the weak and incompetent.
Used to build monuments of nothingness.
Those who excel in it seldom excel in anything else but excuses.

– Anonymous


  • Ned says:

    Sometimes, I feel a bit of dissonance pushing myself to work hard everyday and then start to doubt why I do it at all? Is it really for my health or vanity?

    • Dunkman says:

      It’s OK to question yourself. But after years and years of doing this, I think my final answer is that I really enjoy remaining fully functional and strong, something my peers have allowed to fall by the wayside. And looking good is never a bad thing!

  • Charles Nankin says:

    steroid veins, plastic breasts and amenorrhea. I don’t need these pics, mate!

    • Jessica says:

      I gotta agree with a previous commenter that the photos in this post are out of place. Unlike the previous poster, I’ve got nothing against breast implants and would never shame a sister for getting them. That said, photos of women who have, as likely as not, reduced their body fat to the point of amenorrhea – and god knows what other problems – for competitions do not constitute a healthy image for most of us to aspire to. I know that you train competitors, Bret, but let’s not pretend that that image has anything whatsoever to do with “health”. As this is a motivational post for “the rest of us”, I feel like less extreme examples would have been more appropriate. That being said, I’m a big fan of your rational and positive approach and I am LOVING Strong Curves.

      • Bret says:

        Jessica, there’s a big difference between the National level competitors and the local ones…the girls I’ve trained were incredibly healthy. None have ever used performance enhancing substances, none were too lean to where they stopped getting menstrual cycles, etc. But I understand your point. I have always posted pictures of lean people or people with great glutes on my site, and I do this in hopes to inspire, not offend. Sorry that you find the pics distasteful, I think these people look great.

    • amigo says:

      Hear, hear..

  • ggs says:

    I hate it when people say to me the reason your in good shape is you don’t work….yes technically I don’t have a paying job…but I do work….I have been watching my grandchildren everyday since the first one was born eighteen yrs ago…I have them until they are of the age to go to school all day… But I feed them breakfast and drive them to school and do three car line pickups everyday…..I have them all summer long ….all school vacations etc….my point is I am busy and old…. I am also tired….but I am also strong and in shape because I have made a commitment to myself to be the best I can be…now I am not there yet it is a work in progress…but my time at the gym is just that MY TIME….my music…. my focus on myself… excuses needed here….
    That’s it….

    • Paloma says:

      GGS, that is fantastic. Never let the others put you down! How old are you?
      I am 37 but I plan to be a fit woman all my life. I feel now better that when I was 18. No kidding!

  • Sam says:

    For anyone who is really pressed for time – consider doing High-Intensity Training. One really good resource for learning about HIT is Drew Baye’s website (

  • B says:

    Well I read this and thought why not–changed my clothes, picked a song “I’m so fancy” and told the kids we were working out. My daughter picked “Shake it off” and my son picked “fireball”. We busted out lunges, push-ups, hip thrusts and back rows. Threw in a few dance moves for kicks. 15 minutes. I’m not training for anything but still need to exercise!

  • Paloma says:

    Dear Bret,

    I have recently read some articles on the same subject, but yours is the best one! It is really short and points out the main issues.
    I have a full time job, I work for myself, have two small kids and a very active social live. And a nice and toned physique. I have always found time to work out, but never before I started weight lifting has my time investment paid off so greatly!
    Thank you for this awesome blog: your exercises and tips are the best to get wonderful results in less time. I recommend them to everybody, but people have too many excuses 🙁

    Now I am trying to get my husband in shape. These are his main excuses:

    1. I don’t have the time (I’m too busy)
    8. Exercise is boring
    9. Exercise is painful
    18. I don’t really care about my health (it’s not a priority)

    What the hell can I do?

    Regards from Spain,


Leave a Reply


and receive my FREE Lower Body Progressions eBook!

You have Successfully Subscribed!