I do not know anyone who has had a child and magically found more time and money for training. I certainly didn’t. Suddenly there’s a lack of all the resources you used to take for granted. This deficit of time, money, and well-rested hours requires us to re-prioritize our training and become more efficient in our practices. Let’s talk about some ideas to compress more training into less time, while spending less money. This topic could easily bleed into several posts, but I’ll try to lay the groundwork here. This post will concentrate primarily on time savings. Reducing training expenses will be a later post. My approach is an integration of periodization, combining cross-discipline skills when possible, having training opportunities at home, and a whole lot of dry fire.
Throughout this whole process, keep your mission statement in mind. Why are you doing all this? Once again, define this for yourself. A comprehensive mission statement might be, “I want to live a long and healthy life and enjoy it with my loved ones”. You then will have to decide which skills demand the most attention to achieve this mission.
First, make a list of the skills you want to build and maintain. Here’s mine as an example:
- Physical fitness: strength, endurance, mobility
- Shooting Proficiency: speed, accuracy, decisional shooting, competition, training courses
- Emergency Medical training
- Martial Arts/ Combatives
Now, figure out how much time you want to allocate for training each week. Well, let me clarify and say, “How much time can you actually spend on training?” because it’s probably not as much as you’d want. That’s OK, you’re a Dad/Mom now (or just a busy human being) and you have to spend time with the family that you’re trying to protect. Let’s say it’s two hours a week. If it’s more, good! If it’s less, that’s fine too. You have to work within your limited resources and unlimited desires.
Next, decide which thing you suck at most. This will be the priority. This part is important, because it’s easy to want to train what you’re already good at. This can happen with shooters who want to shave a few tenths off of their draw, a runner who wants to shave minutes off of their mile time, or a Jiu Jitsu player who wants to get the next stripe on the belt. Don’t forget that it is very likely the Pareto Principle applies to these endeavors. Honing your shooting to the limits of human ability means that you’re likely ignoring another aspect of your training. Get good enough, and then focus on the next weakness.
In sticking with the mission statement I wrote above, the best probability for achieving my goals (and probably yours too) is to give top priority to Physical Fitness. As Larry Lindenman pointed out at his lecture at the PaulEPalooza 2 Training Event, we’re much more likely to die of heart disease or some other preventable disease than in the gunfight we have been training for. The reality is that the bulk of the training time should be spend on physical fitness. We should concentrate on the aspects of fitness (strength, endurance, and mobility) in periodic blocks to give our bodies enough time to get the training adaptation we’re after, and then switch to a block of time concentrating on another aspect of fitness. Larry recommends, and I have used, 8 week blocks of time on your current weakness. Within this 8 week block, use 75% of your training time building that weakness, and the remaining 25% on maintaining the other aspects. After 8 weeks, switch to the next fitness goal, and put rest on maintenance mode. repeat. Luckily, the non-fitness aspects can be maintained and even built in conjunction with the physical fitness goals. You probably will have to make concessions in your training because life gets in the way.
Note: I’m assuming my audience isn’t an Elite in any of the disciplines that I’ve listed. If you’re a Crossfit God/Goddess, you can probably skip some WODs and prioritize getting some medical training or firearms training. You get the idea.
Here’s a few tips to streamline your training:
- Keep a journal. Whether you’re strength training, shooting, or running. You simply won’t be able to document your progress without a record of where you’ve been.
- Film yourself. Use your phone and take some video of yourself doing your practice. Compare this over time. Send it to a peer and ask them to critique you. The feedback loop is important for course corrections. It will make you mo’ better, mo’ faster.
- Get a few pieces of home exercise equipment. Nothing fancy is needed here. A pull-up bar, a kettlebell (bought or made), a sandbag, TRX bands, whatever. Build a home gym if you have the resources. Try to cut drive time out of your training allotment and you’ll have more time for training. Do the work by whatever means necessary.
- Combine training time with family time. I’m thinking mostly of fitness stuff here. Get out and hike or walk with your family. Two birds, one stone.
- Schedule your training when it doesn’t impact your family. If you have to get up early to dead-lift, suck it up buttercup.
- Dry-fire while you’re taking a dump.
- Depending on your training budget, try to get at least one course of professional training during the year. Try to choose coursework that will yield the greatest progress towards your goals. This takes honesty with yourself, and a dedication to your mission. It’s easy to go to man-camp and hose 1500 rounds of carbine ammo in a 2 day course. Try to avoid that trap.
- Combine training when possible. Throw a few repetitions of dry fire after a set of push-ups, do push-ups while you recover from sit-ups, or do a sport that also trains your combative abilities. Try to increase the time efficiency by combining skill building with attribute building.
- Don’t train for longer than 60 minutes at a time. Whether at the gym, or shooting, you probably have diminishing returns after about 60 minutes.
- Do a perfect draw stroke every night and get a perfect sight picture as you’re securing your gun for the night. This gives you 365 practice draws a year, for free.
- Perform mental rehearsal and visualization. See yourself performing a perfect draw stroke in your mind. It’s free, and can be done while you’re getting ready in the morning.
- Choose your shooting drills wisely. Here’s The Tactical Professor discussing training priorities. Concentrate on mentally demanding, low round count practice sessions.
- Train with a plan. If you don’t have a plan you’re going to waste time figuring out what to do, and probably will default to something easy that you’re already good at. Nuts to that.
- Train things you don’t like to train. Because if you don’t like training it, you’re probably bad at it. Bring up the weaknesses.
- Compete. You are forced to perform in front of others, perform on demand, and are directly compared to your peers. People often say that one Jiu Jitsu tournament is the equivalent of several months of gym training time. The importance of this cannot be overlooked. Find a sport (shooting, power lifting, whatever) and plan on competing in it. You’ll train harder and with more focus.
Keep in mind this same approach would work with a single person with no spouse who has a huge training budget and training time. At some point, choices have to be made and priorities chosen.
What time savings training tips do you use to get more out of your training time?
Get training, and then go spend some time with the family!