Preston Wood, pictured above, is 44 years old. He works anywhere from 60 to 70 hours a week, and his job demands a lot of travel. He also has a wife and family that he puts above all else, and lives in a town that is about an hour and a half round-trip commute from his gym, Gym Jones, where I’m the general manager.
I’ve heard people use all of those reasons—work, family, age, time—as excuses to not become fit. But despite Preston’s so-called “limitations,” he’s reached a truly incredible level of fitness.
I’m never easy on Preston. Gym Jones is considered one of the most hardcore gyms in the world, and I give Preston the most difficult of goals to achieve. I don’t give him a break, but he hits all the targets I set for him, and always goes above and beyond.
The reason Preston is so fit is simple: When it’s time to work, Preston always works his hardest. He never makes excuses. Just like you, he has plenty of reasons why he can’t train, or can’t perform at an optimal level. But he doesn’t—Preston rarely misses a gym session. And if he does, he always makes it up by doing a workout at home.
Preston is one of the greatest excuse-killers for the other people I train—he’s a litmus test for bullshit. When anyone else tells me they don’t have time to achieve their goals because of their work, family, commute, or because they just aren’t suited for something, I can say, “Well, Preston works more than you. He also has a family. He lives farther away from the gym than you. He’s also older and smaller than you. But Preston did it. Why can’t you?”
The single most common excuse I hear from people is “I don’t have enough time to work out.” When people feed me that line, we fill out one of my infamous time audits, which I also included in my new Men’s Health book Maximus Body.
In this exercise, the person in question and I stand in front of a big white board. I write “168” in big numbers. I tell the person, “168 happens to be the number of hours there are in a week.”
Then I ask the person how many hours he works and sleeps each week. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s say he works 70 hours a week—that’s 14 hours each day, Monday to Friday. Then I assign the person 8 hours of sleep each night, or 56 weekly hours. I don’t ask about sleep, I tell—people rarely get 8 hours of sleep every night but that’s how much they should be sleeping.
Add 70 and 56, and right now the person has used only 126 hours out of a possible 168. Do the math and you’re left with 42 extra waking hours each week that this guy tells me he “doesn’t” have. That’s nearly two days he claims just aren’t there. I ask the person what the hell he does with the rest of his time. It’s a fair question.
The person inevitably start to shout things like “I have to commute to work,” “I have to grocery shop,” and “I have to spend time with my family!”
So I give the guy 10 hours of commuting (2 hours, five days a week), 3 hours of weekly grocery shopping, and 20 hours of quality time with his family.
That brings his total hours to 159 hours, meaning he still has 9 spare hours each week. By now the guy gets the message.
Everyone has enough time for health and fitness. You don’t even need the full 9 hours every week to get in incredible shape. In my Men’s Health book Maximus Body, I created a 6-month training plan that will radically transform your body with just 5 weekly hours of exercise. That still leaves you 4 hours a week for Netflix!
If you choose not to use those 9 hours, that’s your prerogative. But realize it’s not a question of can’t—it’s a choice. I understand that some days things come up and you really may not have time to train that day. But over the course of a week, you do have the time.
Preston’s schedule is a rarity—the funniest thing about this exercise is that most people who say they don’t have enough time to train don’t work 70 hours a week, don’t sleep 8 hours a night, don’t commute 2 hours a day, and don’t spend that much time with their family.
No one lacks time. They lack willpower and motivation. Those two qualities start with your psychology, which is why, in my Men’s Health book Maximus Body, an entire section is devoted to the mental hacks I use on everyone from pro athletes, to special forces soldiers, to average guys to help them get their minds right.
Let’s fill out a time audit together. Copy the following down on a sheet of paper and write in your numbers.
Work: ______ Weekly Hours
Sleep: ______ Weekly Hours
Commute: ______ Weekly Hours
Errands: ______ Weekly Hours
Family Time: ______ Weekly Hours
Add the above numbers. That’s your “Total Hours.”
Now do this equation: 168 – (Total Hours) = Weekly hours you have for fitness. Now stop making excuses.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health