Balancing A Career and Fitness: Training Under 20 Hours A Week (Part II)

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Balancing A Career and Fitness: Training Under 20 Hours A Week (Part II)

I wanted to write this to contrast a prior post in 2016, when I had a “mind over matter” approach towards fitness. I used to tell people about how I would work out from 7PM until past midnight everyday. In subsequent years, I dabbled with training at 6AM as well, at Norcal Functional Fitness in 2017 and PerformanceGaines (which involved a commute as well!) in 2018. I would then go to Sports Medicine Institute and take a nap while wearing the Normatec Pulse 2.0 before taking an ice bath to wake up and go to work. My idea of balancing a career and fitness was really just willing through it, neglecting sleep, and just getting it done.

What I Didn’t Tell Anyone

What isn’t told in that story is how inefficient I was and how I would frequently succumb to burnout. My version of balancing a career and fitness was hardly a balanced lifestyle.

I was pretty much a zombie early in the morning and gave subpar efforts off of no sleep. And in between closing at Dreamland (at 9PM), and going to 24 Hour Fitness, I used to sit in my car for long periods of time exhausted, trying to recuperate, before putting in more work. I would then hop on the bike and review sparring footage and edit all of the weekly content you saw for Dreamland Boxing (thousands of videos), hit some weights, run 5K, do 1,000 sit-ups, and then go to the sauna before going home. The only one of those I allowed myself to skip was the 5K. But if I was feeling slow, I still wouldn’t leave until all of those were done, often well past midnight.

What Changed

Well, a lot. I wrote a bit about my life changes at 28 here, but life happens. External events outside of fitness, from meeting my partner, to buying a place, to focusing on my career, and prioritizing family can change where you value your time. In 2019, I was getting burnt out once again training 9 fighters for the Dreamland Boxing Never Give Up Show, training for my first ultramarathon, and buying a condo. I took a step back from coaching boxing and also my own personal training to focus on other personal commitments. Fitness is an important part of my life, but it isn’t the only part of my life.

In early 2020, I laid out my resolutions and New Year’s goals as I started planning my calendar for my races and boxing events. But this time, I did something different – I put a cap on my training hours and a floor for my sleeping hours. The goal was to have all of my gym commitments under 20 hours a week and sleep for over 50.

Time Allocation:

So I mapped out all 168 hours in a week and how I wanted to spend them. In general, my week breaks down as follows:

  • Work: ~50 Hours
  • Gym: ~20 Hours
  • Sleep: ~50 Hours
  • Personal: ~48 Hours

Having more personal time means more date nights, house projects, and other personal commitments – an area I certainly neglected previously. And, now sleeping is a non-negotiable bucket, so I could only cut down on my gym time. So I tried to fit different aspects of fitness and coaching into those 20 hours.

My time allocation changed within 2020 both pre-pandemic and post-pandemic, and once again for 2021. As I’m setting my 2021 goals, my gym time looks like this:

  • Running: 6 Hours
    • This has some buffer as I originally put 4 hours on Saturdays to run with my trail running group. As this is a large group, usually we convene at different times and take our time while running some long distances (10-22 miles). Obviously, this doesn’t even apply due to the pandemic, but I kept the Saturday 4 hours as is to make way for slower paces trail runs or hikes.
    • The remaining 2 hours is for my weekday mileage (10-15 miles).
    • My overall mileage goal is 25 miles per week. 6 hours is on the high end for that mileage, but I’m also planning for the unexpected – a bad day, getting lost on the trails, etc.
  • Boxing: 2 Hours
    • That’s it. I don’t compete anymore, so I don’t do boxing specific workouts as often. It’s usually a warm-up plus a 6×3 (6 rounds, 3 minutes, 30 second rest) four times a week.
  • Strength Training: 5 Hours
    • 3 Hours: I do three classes at PerformanceGaines: two Kettlebell Classes and a Move, Sweat, Smile class.
    • 2 Hours: The remaining time is for me to get creative. I do core workouts and make use of my home gym using the various equipment I have there (pull-up bar, sand bags, battle ropes, box jumps, etc.)
  • Coaching Boxing: 4.5 Hours
    • 3 Hours: I coach virtually Dreamland Boxing members on Monday and Wednesday nights, and in-person outdoors at Dreamland Boxing on Fridays.
    • 1.5 Hours: I also train my partner’s dad 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Recovery: 2.5 Hours
    • 1.75 Hours: I spend the first 15 minutes every morning in front of my Joovv Red Light stretching and reading.
    • On Fridays, prior to my long runs, I’ll allocated an hour for yoga or recovery methods. My favorite recovery tools are the Theragun, Biomat, and Ice Baths.

And that’s my plan for training in under 20 hours a week. I have a few other hacks for squeezing in training to other hours of the day (i.e. I use a Fitdesk to pedal while working, walk/runwhile taking Zoom meetings, etc.) I’ll save that for another day.

About the Author:

Coach Ian is an ultra-marathon runner and a volunteer coach at the non-profit boxing organization, Dreamland Boxing, in San Jose, CA. He competed in boxing for both Dreamland and collegiately at UCLA. His goal is to empower all to be the best that they can be, in boxing and in life. You can find Coach Ian on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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