5-Minute Workouts and the Importance of Starting

Time constraints is one of the main reasons why people don’t get to exercise. This is true for most working people, who spend hours commuting to and from work, which takes up most of the day. This also explains why there are so many “minute workouts” being marketed today. Be it a 5-minute circuit or 6-minute abs, the lure of having to spend little time on a workout is enough to get people moving. However, these “minute workouts”, as I’ve learned from a mentor at work, are actually simple marketing ploys to get people to buy into a certain training program.

Does a 5-minute circuit really take up only five minutes? Not exactly. As with any workout, you’ll have to change into the proper attire and warm up first; these alone will take around five minutes to do. Then you have the actual workout, which takes, more or less, the amount of time it promised to take up. Then you cool down, and your workout is over. “Minute workouts” aren’t really as quick as they promise to be, but they make you think that they are in order to encourage you to get off your ass and do them. The beauty of “minute workouts” is that they trick you into getting started, because once you start, you’re more likely to push even further and do more than the prescribed workout.

Take for example a 4-minute circuit. You’re likely to try it out because you’ll be thinking, “hey, it’s just four minutes”. But before long, you won’t find the circuit that tiring, so you’ll decide to challenge yourself by doing three sets of the 4-minute circuit. That’s a 12-minute high-intensity workout, 12 minutes that you thought you didn’t have.

The point here is simple: if you start, then you might end up doing even more than what was expected. Just the other day I dragged myself out of bed for a relaxed 3-kilometer run. But five minutes in, as my body began to warm up, I figured, “hey, I’m already out of bed and running, might as well make the most of it”. I ended up running 10k, a feat that I wasn’t planning on tackling that morning. So just get started and you’ll be surprised what you can accomplish.

And the importance of starting doesn’t only apply to short-term goals, but to long-term goals as well. As the old saying goes, “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. Everyone who has ever become good at something started somewhere, and they probably sucked at it too. In my case, I began grappling in 2005 at the NewBreed BJJ Academy in Ateneo. I was a track athlete then, but I saw a flier for BJJ lessons and decided to give it a try. I learned two techniques the first day of training, then I was sparring by the third day. I kept training and little did I know that those lessons would lead to a fruitful Judo and grappling career spanning over 7 years.

Starting is the first step to achieving something great. Be it a workout, a hobby, or a career: just start, because you never know how far you’ll go from there.

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.