From Coach Josh: The Backup Plan

Each Sunday, I chart out a carefully considered set of workouts for the week, following a periodized, balanced approach to strength, conditioning, mobility, and recovery. All in, it’s about an hour worth of stuff each day.

Some weeks, I manage to stick to the plan precisely.

Others, everything more or less goes to shit.

In the past month, I’ve had unexpected work developments dump huge piles of urgent work on my desk. I’ve had a death in the family rearrange my schedule around a funeral and sitting shiva. I’ve even jumped in for a few afternoons of nephew-wrangling when my brother’s nanny called in sick.

On those days, I just don’t have the time – or the mental bandwidth – to commit to hitting the gym.

In the past, when days like that happened, I just wouldn’t work out at all. The perfect – following my program precisely – became the enemy of the good – doing something rather than nothing.

But more recently, I’ve started to use a simple, standard fallback workout: I pull a 24kg kettlebell from my closet and do a single set of 50-75 swings.

That’s it. All in, it takes about two minutes, but it’s still a serious kick in the lungs, and a great way to train the muscles of my grip and my entire posterior chain – from my upper back down through my glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

Because I’ve made that one workout the default, I can hop right in, even when I don’t have the energy to think about what to do. And, though it’s short, it’s enough to make a meaningful contribution to my overall health.

Even more importantly, it’s also enough for me to be able to chalk the day up as a fitness success.

I’ve written before about aiming to never miss twice, and I think that’s still an excellent mantra – it’s the surest way to avoid letting one skipped workout become a whole month down the tubes.

But in crazy times, a short, simple, no-thought-required fallback plan also makes it much, much easier to make sure your day doesn’t become a ‘miss’ in the first place.