It doesn’t take much to make massive improvements in any given area, your health, fitness and nutrition are no different. In the book Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed, he takes about Dave Brailsford’s implementation of his idea of marginal gains to improve British cycling. The idea that by improving every aspect by just 1% each will add up to massive overall improvement.
Here are a few ways you can make major improvements in your health in around 15 mins or less each day.
1. improvements in your Pre-sleep routine.
Getting a good nights sleep is one of the most underrated factors in improving performance, increasing fat loss and generally being more awesome all round. Improving your pre sleep routine is a simple way to make sure you get a better nights sleep.
- switch off electronics before bed, if you use a tablet or phone, use an app liek F.lux to reduce the blue light
- have the room slightly on the cool side
- have a note pad to jot down any ideas that might pop into your head and might keep you awake
- don’t have caffeine less than 6 hours before bed
- try to set a time to sleep that you stick to each night to get into a better schedule for sleep
2. Prep food for the day.
Seriously. 15 minutes is all it’ll take to set you up for the day.
- Cook up a serving of lean protein such as chicken, pork or fish to have at lunch, while it cools, prep a simple salad
- Add a piece of fruit and maybe some greek yoghurt or cottage cheese for a high protein snack.
- Or put a scoop of protein in a shaker to be topped up with milk or water when you’re ready to have it.
- Boil a couple of eggs, shell them and pop them into a tupperware box to have later.
The options are endless. Just make sure you’ve done number 3…
3. Take 15 mins to plan your weeks meals and write a shopping list.
A couple of options for breakfast, 2 or 3 lunch options and dinners and a snack for each day. Most folks rotate through the same few meals so you can keep it simple. From that, build your shopping list.
It might even take not much longer than 15 minutes to shop for it.
4. Switch off while you eat
Removing distractions while you eat can work wonders for fat loss. Believe it or not you will pay more attention to what you eat, and more importantly, how much you eat with this simple “trick.” Being more mindful about your eating habits will help you gauge when you are satisfied (rather than packed full), help you enjoy the tastes and textures of your food, which in turn encourages you to buy better quality food, and you are more likely to engage with your fellow diners.
5. Foam roll.
It’s great for working out those trigger point and aches from training, take a small amount of time before or after training to work out any aches. Here’s a good article from Tony Gentilcore on the subject.
6. Read 15 mins on a topic you want to learn about.
On your lunch, on your commute, after dinner, before bed. Whenever you choose to do it, getting just 15 mins reading done each day can work wonders for reducing your stress levels and helping you relax. Reading about a topic you are interested in will give you an hour and a half each week of learning and development time.
7. Warmup properly
A good warm up gets your heart rate up, mobilises your joints and generally gets you ready to crush your training session. For the sake of about 10 minutes of your time, you can minimise the risk of injury and maximise your potential for a great session.
8. Add in a short conditioning circuit after training
Generally your conditioning should be kept separate from your strength training to get maximum benefit, but let’s face it, not many of us have the luxury of the time to get 2 sessions in each day or train often enough to do both separately.
The answer is to add some conditioning work to the end of your training session. Some lower intensity steady state cardio mixed with high intensity work builds both your aerobic and anaerobic fitness, leading to improvement in recovery between strength sets and between sessions.
Here is a free download of 30 great conditioning ideas to get you in great shape
9. Get out for a short walk every day
Dr Stuart McGill ranks walking as one of the best things you can do for good back health, and everyone wants a strong, healthy back. Other research has shown that a short walk can lead to improvements in:
- stress levels
- concentration and creativity
Plus, fresh air and the possibility of a little sunshine is always good!
Meditation is a simple way to clear your head and creates improvement in focus and concentration. It’s simple and effective and you can get great benefits in just 10 mins a day. Try Headspace for a free 10 session block to see what it can do for you.
11. Show some gratitude
This one takes even less time, spending just a few minutes each day to think about what you are grateful for has been shown to have major benefits on your mental health. There are loads of apps and journals you can get that help you get going with this, but just a few minutes out of your day can be all it takes.
12. If you’re stuck at a desk all day do this series each morning and night.
McGill Crunch – 10s holds for 6 rounds, rest 45-60s 5 rounds, rest 40-50s, 4 rounds, rest 30-40s, 3 rounds, rest 20-30s, 2 rounds, rest 20s and 1x 10s hold
Bird dog 6-8 reps per side, focussing on maintaining a flat low back
Side plank 2-3 x 30s hold per side
T-spine ext 1x 20-30s stretch
13. Have a coffee nap
Wait. You haven’t heard of coffee naps?? Well you are in for a treat!
It’s simple. Have a coffee. Espresso is good. Have a nap for no more than 15 to 20 mins. The nap refreshes you, the caffeine, which takes about 15 – 25 mins to kick in, blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain stopping adenosine from filling the spaces. This stops the build up of adenosine which stops you from feeling as drowsy.
Upgrade your nap. Double the benefit. In just 15 mins.