How to workout when you are busy – Min Time, Max Results

By Paul Milano

Read Time: 10 minutes


  • Why it is not a good idea to skip your fitness routine when life gets crazy
  • How to workout so you can get the best results in the shortest amount of time
  • A workout plan for the busy executive, entrepreneur or professional in whatever your field


If you are reading you probably already know why it’s critical to keep up with your fitness routine for a multitude of reasons…

Let’s first dig into why you shouldn’t sacrifice workout time when you have a mountain of work and tasks on your plate.

Having a bad day? Go pump some weights in the gym and the endorphin response will almost immediately transform your mood from lonely panda to samurai warrior.

Want to be more productive? Learn from one of the world’s most popular billionaires and why he ensures he works out as part of his routine.

Tim Ferriss wrote in his book The Four Hour Body about an occasion where a group of people were assembled on Richard Branson’s private island to brainstorm growth options for Branson’s Virgin Unite project.

Branson was posed with the question, “How do you become more productive?”
Branson leaned back and thought for a second. Then he said, “Work out.”
He said that working out gave him at least four additional hours of productive time every day.

The positive benefits of fitness not only entail gaining lean muscle and burning fat, but emotional and neurological benefits to put us in a better mood, reduce depression and ultimately give us the energy to get more done.

What are beta endorphins?



As such, we know it’s not really a wise option to completely sacrifice our workout time all together as the negative effects will outweigh any of the positives gained by freeing up some time.

Being depressed, tired and low on energy are not exactly traits a high performing entrepreneur, executive or literally anyone wants to have.

I do fully understand though that life can get crazy at times.

Especially for most readers here who are really pushing towards their dreams and want a life of high productivity and success. Personal life events can further this craziness such as weddings, kids and friends showing up unexpectedly with a bottle of wine that can’t be left unfinished.

With all this we have a tendency sometimes to put working out lower on the priority list…

It does not help that the fitness world has gone into a craze that if you are not working out for hours upon hours each day / week you are somehow seen as less, weaker or not doing anything.

This isn’t true and in fact a lot of people are overdoing it, reversing the positive effects possible. I myself am 100% guilty of this. Younger Paul always thought he needed to work out more to the point that even everyday wasn’t enough, I thought I should be doing it twice a day. This was a total disaster of course. I had no results, I was exhausted all the time and I was totally frustrated as I had little time for my other ventures.

Since we know now why we don’t really want to completely skip our workouts, I’m sure by now you are asking as I was…

How do I get the maximum results and benefits in the gym from the shortest amount of time?


Today I will show you how to MAXIMIZE your time in the gym when you truly are on a hectic schedule to get the most out of your workout.

These are some of the most EFFICIENT exercises and workouts to do in the gym to get the best return on your time investment there so you  can still get great results and have more time for your ambitions, goals, business, career or whatever you want to do.

Efficiency is the goal here (I am an efficiency junky).

I will not only tell you which exercises to do I’ll even give you some sample routines you can try out.

What do I mean by efficient workouts? I mean exercises that have been studied to activate the anabolic, muscle building, fat burning hormones in our body along with give us the great mood boosting benefits. The three big players here are Testosterone, Growth Hormone and Insulin Growth Factors (IGF-1).

All three of the above play a big role in both burning fat and gaining lean muscle. Women need not be afraid of the Testosterone here; you will not all of a sudden start talking in a deep raspy voice by doing the workouts below.

A number of studies done by the National Strength and Conditioning association show compound workouts and movements that call in a large number of big muscle groups to have the biggest impacting on activating the hormones above.

…and we really don’t need to spend hours in the gym to get it.

Growth Hormone Response to varying levels of intensive exercise over time

growth hormone chart

Chart Source 

This chart sure looks nice but what does it mean?

The chart above measures growth hormone released in varying subjects working out at different intensity levels. The highest release of growth hormone is seen in the two working out the most intensely.

We can see it really doesn’t take long to initiate as well, seeing high doses of growth hormone after only 30 minutes of workout time with a significant drop off after that time.

The key is to work out VERY HARD for a SHORTER amount of time.

Let’s look at this chart that shows the beta endorphin response based on working out at varying intensity levels. Intensity in this case is measured by the persons max oxygen uptake (essentially how heavy their breathing).

If we recall from earlier, beta endorphins are the neuro transmitters that make us feel like a super hero (more or less).


Chart Data Source

As it was with growth hormone, we can see the more intense the workout, the higher the amount of endorphins released.

The point of these charts above is to illustrate that you can get a great result, in a short period of time as long as you do it properly.

As such, I give you the 7 best exercises from my experience, research and results to trigger these above and get the job done in the quickest amount of time.


Probably one of the most intimidating exercises, but don’t be afraid to learn it. Start light and get the form and movement down, then worry about adding on weight later. An article on muscle and fitness has published “As well as increasing muscle and strength another great reason for deadlifting is the release of testosterone and growth hormone, as studies have shown that compound lifts like the deadlift use the most muscle groups hence they release the most of test and GH”. I have seen my back grow larger through deadlifts than any other exercise. Plus something about lifting heavy weights (especially on deadlifts) just does absolute wonders for your confidence.

Front Squats:

Another intimidating lift, but again the form and movement can be easy to master with time and patience. The key is to again start light, master the form and add weight little by little. You will in short time be lifting some big numbers.  Front squats will hit your quads and core hard and fast and will quickly make your legs feel like jello.

Back Squats:

The all-time classic and a staple of almost every muscle building program for good reason. This one is nothing new, but if you are not doing it you need to be.  As well you need to be doing it in a way targeting constant progression and increased resistance. Don’t blitz through these like a bunny rabbit throwing the weight up and down, use a slower movement with more tension for better results.

Kettlebell Swings:

It has been described as the perfect exercise. It touches almost every muscle in your body and when executed correctly is fantastic and very low impact for your back. Pavel Tsatsouline, former Soviet Union special forces operative and an expert in the fitness industry has stated that if he could only do 3 exercises, this would be one of them. I myself am new to Kettlebell swings but after researching up on it am now making it a part of my routine.

Pullups / Chin Ups with varying grips:

The beauty with pull-up’s and chin ups is we can do a lot in a very simple movement. By changing up our grip, the distance between our hands and slowing down for more tension we can focus on different muscles and get great results. The beauty is as well these can be done almost anywhere with a bar. In University I used to do these on the shower rod in my apartment (I still don’t know how that thing didn’t come crumbling down one day).

Barbell Bench Press (with varying grips):

Much like with pullups, by varying grips we can change the focus to hit different areas and create a powerful workout in short amounts of time. Close grip will help us hit the triceps as well as the chest whereas widening our grip more will target the chest to a much greater extent.

Interval Sprints with Burpees:

You won’t see any slow endurance training here for two reasons. It simply takes way to long and doesn’t optimize the return we want from our hormones. You can get better results from doing 10 minutes of high intensity sprints then 60 minutes of jogging. Adding in burpees kicks it up a notch.


Now let’s fit these into 1.5 hours of total work out time each week. This is purely a sample, you could mix and match the workouts above how you want but to get an idea of what it looks like I’ve created a sample plan below.

The times may seem short, but research shows only a minimum of 10 minutes of work is required to stimulate the hormones we want. The key is – (and I am repeating this to drive it home) – you have to be working out at a high intensity that pushes you out of your comfort zone. To be honest, you should be doing this every single time you step in the gym anyway, otherwise what’s the point? No progress will be made.

Focusing on only doing the exercises above will help so that so you are not wasting any time.

Sample 90 minute total workout time each week:

how to workout when busy chart


There you have it. Barring injury, I know everyone can spare 90 minutes out of the 10,080 minutes allotted in a week to fit these in, no matter how busy you are. (I purposely put the time in a week in minutes so you can see just how minuscule an amount of time you actually need).

What if I don’t have access to a gym?

Well first, I would say I don’t believe you. Where I live in Toronto there is literally a gym on almost every corner. In case you do live in some remote corner of the world or a place where gym memberships are incredibly expensive it is easy to get creative.

tree pullup

You could be bad-ass, like this guy using a tree to do his pull ups and chin ups.

bench pushup

Or you could use the city and park as your own personal gym. There is a ton of options.

Regardless of where you choose to work out, the main point I am trying to drive home here is when life get’s crazy, don’t put your workout or fitness routine aside.

Both your body and your mind will thank you for keeping it up and will help you better deal with everything life throws your way.

If you have been short on time I encourage you to give this, or a program like this a shot. It really doesn’t take much and you will feel like a champ in no time… and you won’t want to stop in the future, despite how “busy” you are.




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