Time-Effective Fitness: The 4 Ways to Make Your Workout Most Effective
by Marty Seldman and Joshua Seldman


A question that often comes up is how can today’s top employees and leaders increase their performance and effectiveness and at the same time maintain their health and emotional well being?  For today’s busy leaders and ambitious employee’s the answer is simple:  time-effective fitness.  In our newest book, Executive Stamina, we outline how busy and stressed executives can use fitness to have the time, energy and productivity necessary to reach their career goals, while maintaining health and avoiding costly trade-offs in their personal lives.  For a long time fitness was a nice to do for executives when time allowed for it in their schedule.  In today’s corporate climate, executives are more stressed, with more complex responsibilities, and more pressure to have them done than ever before.  For many this means that the time available for fitness is rare if not gone altogether, as are the associated benefits, such as reduced stress, clear thinking, healthy attitude, and having energy to perform at your best throughout the day.  To get these benefits back, you must make fitness work into your schedule so it is time-effective.   To determine whether your fitness plan is time-effective for you, there are two questions you have to ask. 

  • Will this workout or fitness plan add to the time I have available in the future, increase my energy and increase my productivity?
  • Will this workout or fitness plan give me the greatest results in the shortest amount of time needed?

In order to answer a resounding YES to these two questions, your workouts and fitness plan need to include the following three components based on the pioneering systems presented in Executive Stamina

Focused on Aerobic Conditioning

The heart and lungs are what give you the energy, stamina, stress relief, and endurance you need to be effective through-out the work day.  As opposed to lifting weights and other exercise which are important, by focusing your workouts on aerobic exercise you specifically gain the benefits most likely to give you what you need most.  Here is a list of the benefits of aerobic exercise:

  • Increased Energy and Stamina
  • Better Health
  • Stress Management
  • Mood Elation
  • Clear Thinking
  • Improved Sleep
  • Improved Decision-Making Capabilities
  • Improved Image and Impact
  • Company benefits through increased productivity with lower heath care costs and reduced absenteeism

Depending on your current level of fitness, you will receive these benefits by completing at least 3 aerobic workouts a week for 20-30 minutes each time, with the eventual goal being 5 aerobic workouts a week, each 20-30 minutes long.  In the final component you will learn how to make these workouts even more powerful and effective by including intervals, however right now it should be clear that the benefits to your future time, energy, and productivity make these workouts a time-effective investment.

Progressive Workouts

The greatest achievements I have been a part of have come from incremental steps building progressively on each other.  This is the both the most effective way to receive the benefits of fitness as well as the easiest time-wise.  By doing short, effective, and consistent (3 times per week) workouts, you are able to increase your fitness in the shortest amount of time possible.  Where others do one great hour-long workout on Monday and nothing again until Friday because it was too much to squeeze in again, you are able to get in three, shorter (30 minute)and more effective workouts that week and keep your fitness moving forward as well as all of the other stress relieving and energizing benefits of working out.  So keep in mind, smaller more consistent steps are the most time-effective way to workout.

Include Intervals

Now that you know to do aerobic activities in short, progressive workouts, you will include intervals to make the 20-30 minutes super-charged and receive maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time.  Intervals are that great moment when you are walking, jogging, or riding your bike and hit a hill, get passed by a friend, or feel a surge of energy and pick up the pace just enough to feel  your legs and lungs work just a bit harder.  This “interval” is the most effective way to increase the effect of your workout.  These efforts of going just a little bit harder should last 2 minutes at first and 3 minutes for advanced exercisers.  You will do them every 5 minutes or whenever the urge (or hill) presents itself, making sure you include at least 3 per workout.  The great thing about them is that they are long enough to give you a huge boost in fitness, while short enough that they are fun, adequately challenging, and something that you know you will accomplish.

Combining Activities

In many of the companies we work with the simplest solution to make time for fitness is to combine it with another activity that you need to do as well.  You want to meld other goals, priorities, or activities with your fitness practices in order to maximize the time spent and also you will find it makes these activities much more enjoyable and productive.  Often just the time savedfrom combining these activities gives you such a boost in enjoyment and that you got things done.  Here are some key ways to combine fitness with other activities:

  • Commuting, through walking, cycling or running all or part of the distance to work.

  • Learning, by reading or watching videos while on a stationary bike or treadmill, or listening to pod casts or books on tape.

  • Doing work like reading papers on stationary equipment; Thinking about key issues or ideas when walking or jogging.

  • Forming new, or solidifying current, relationships by engaging in fitness activities business associates.

  • Spending quality time with your spouse, children, other family or friends while engaging in fitness activities, such as bike rides, walking or hiking, and sports like tennis or basketball. 
  • Combining fitness with your desire to contribute by signing up for fund-raising races/walks or  physical activities to contribute to a religious organization or social cause.

These four ways are at the foundation of the principle in Executive Stamina that fitness is a key resource in the success of today’s top executives.  As we all know in the current work world effective use of your time is essential, and using these four components ensures your workouts with be effective, give you the results you need, and do it in the time you have to spare.  This way of time-effective fitness is the simplest answer that busy executives have to the question of how to achieve their career goals and maintain their health, family and personal well being.


The Authors

Marty Seldman, Ph.D. is one of the world’s most experienced and successful
executive coaches and is president of Seldman Executive Development Programs (www.seldman.com).  He is the co-author of The Wall Street Journal
bestseller Survival of the Savvy:  High-Integrity Political Tactics for Career and Company Success as well as the author of Super Selling Through Self-Talk: The Ultimate Edge In Sales Success.  As an organizational consultant, Dr. Seldman specializes in team building, conflict resolution, feedback systems, and skills and workshops in building and maintaining trust.  He received his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Temple University.

Joshua Seldman is a highly respected cycling and fitness coach and a successful endurance athlete. During his professional athletic career, he was a twelve-hour and twenty-four-hour solo mountain bike champion.  He was also a lead coach for Carmichael Training Systems and Lance Armstrong’s Tour of Hope cross-country ride.  He received his B.S. in exercise physiology, specializing in sports psychology from the University of Florida.

Many more articles in Executive Performance in The CEO Refresher Archives

Copyright 2008 by
Marty Seldman and Joshua Seldman. All rights reserved.

Current Issue - Archives - CEO Links - News - Conferences - Recommended Reading