Every evening I convince myself that I don't have time to workout. After a hectic day at work and an hour squashed between strangers on a packed train, I can't simply can't entertain the idea of leaving my flat and putting myself through the misery of queuing up for a treadmill.
Of course, the natural solution to this problem would be to get up earlier and workout in the morning, but if you already wake up at 6am everyday just to make sure that you make it on to the train with clean clothes on, then an early-morning workout lacks appeal.
If you're in the same boat as me, then you really only have two options, which are equally as dramatic as each other. You can either quit exercising altogether and go out in style with a ginger nut biscuit binge, or you can pretend the gym doesn't exist from Monday to Friday, stop beating yourself up about not going in the week, and force yourself to train like a beast over the weekend to even things out.
The latter has been nicknamed the 5:2 exercise trend and it has been creating quite a stir with free-time-deficient individuals like me. Whether you work away from home through the week, have a hectic schedule, or just really hate being torn away from your bed in the early hours of the morning, this style of exercise has the potential to help millions of busy people fit exercise back into their lives. The cons of the 5:2 exercise plan may well outweigh the pros, but although some health experts have warned about the dangers of burnout and injury, I've managed to make it work.
Is it doable?
After committing myself to the 5:2 exercise trend over the last month, I have realised that eight hours over just two days really isn't for everyone. It's a trend that lends itself to organisation and would be more suitable for someone who has a schedule free from commitments over the weekend.
Here are the main things I have learnt from my experience...
1. It's really tiring
This will hardly come as a surprise, but squeezing five days of exercise into two days is really hard work. A struggle that is accentuated by the fact that once you finish one part of your workout, you have to keep going with barely any time to recuperate before you need to push your body again. You really do have to think about how you fuel your workout.
2. You can squeeze in loads of different exercises
Unless you're a seasoned marathon runner, anyone would find doing the same exercise for four hours straight unbearable. With this is mind, you can occupy yourself by switching between different exercises per session. For example, you could incorporate spinning, running, yoga and an hour of weights. Swimming is also a great way to break things up. This kind of variety is good for those who get bored easily, or want a total full-body workout.
3. It will make you think about exercise differently
As someone who genuinely enjoys exercise, I sometimes feel as though the 5:2 plan turns it into a chore. Exercise isn't just about losing weight, it's a way to boost your wellbeing and lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.
However, some people may find the relief of not having to hit the gym for five whole days almost euphoric. It really does depend on your own personal preference.
4. It's not as time consuming as you might imagine
Eight hours of exercise split over two days sounds ridiculous, but if you head to the gym early in the morning then you can glide out of the place on an exercise-induced-endorphin-high by lunchtime. Then you are free to spend the rest of the day as you wish, just go easy on the Saturday night beers or else your Sunday session will be hell.
5. But it can dominate your social life
Unless you are the kind of mythical person who doesn't get hangovers, or is never tired, you will struggle to fulfil social commitments at the weekend. The solution? Drag a friend along to the gym with you!