| May 24, 2021
By Trevor Mah
Read time: 5 min.
Exercising is an activity to which we devote a valuable commodity in our lives towards—time. Subtracting the time we take in a day to sleep, go to work, and preparation, this leaves an average of about 6-8 hours on a typical weekday to ourselves. In relation to exercise, this often leads to either rushed workouts or stagnant sessions where one may feel unfocused and lethargic. Here are some simple tips to help you increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your workouts.
Focus on Performing Big Lifts
Incorporate large compound exercises in your routine which target large muscles groups. Exercises such as front squats, deadlifts and chin-ups can efficiently train multiple muscles simultaneously to increase the effectiveness of your session. In addition, compound exercises contribute towards greater hormone release which can help you pack on muscle and torch fat much more effectively than simple isolation exercises such as dumbbell curls and crunches. If you are in for a quick workout, full-body movements such as kettlebell exercises can get your heart going fast. These routines can be accomplished in under 25 minutes if you stay focused on your rest periods.
Plan First & Plan Ahead
If you come into the gym without a plan or a set goal in mind, it will be very difficult to be efficient with your time. Spend a few minutes writing down your exercises along with sets and reps centered on your overall goal and you will spare plenty of minutes contemplating what to do next. Stay focused on what your actual purpose of being in the gym is. If you are there due to guilt from what you were eating, you’re setting yourself up for a tough workout. Your mindset going in is crucial, as it plays into how well you perform and the amount of dedicated focus you put into it. Many people workout because of the fact that it’s a “good idea”, but without a plan the idea remains fruitless and empty.
As important as it is to come in with a planned routine, working out during peak hours can throw a wrench into the works. Workout momentum can come to a halt if there is a wait for a certain piece of equipment, or there are too many people around. In addition to writing out your plan, come up with an alternative if you anticipate someone already using what you need.
Another great workaround for this is to keep in the mind the stimulus you are looking to achieve with your workout. Rather than going in hoping to do a specific exercise at a specific weight, think about what adaptations this is working towards in the bigger picture. For example, if you are there to work on hammering out a specific muscle group, there are many variations and lifting guidelines you can follow. If you are looking to improve your metabolic conditioning, think about which exercises will really get your heart pumping.
Become An Early Bird
Working out in the morning can be difficult for many of us who enjoy our sleep. Training in the morning may be challenging at first, but doing so ensures that no excuses can suddenly get in the way of prolonging your workout. The energy gained from an AM workout can fuel you for the rest of the day. In addition to beating the evening rush, people who work out in the morning typically show more consistency in the gym compared to their late-day counterparts. This also avoids the growing dread of “having” to work out if your days are perpetually busy.
Employ Supersets (or Tri-Sets, or Giant Sets…)
Performing two exercises back to back without rest can drastically shave minutes off your workout time. They are great for increasing the workload on your muscles leading to improved gains. Additionally, cardiovascular effects also arise from the fact that you are decreasing rest time; thereby, boosting your metabolic rate to burn fat. Try super-setting opposing muscles groups to cover more bases if you are really short for time.
Interval training for cardio can be more effective than steady-state training. Both your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds can be pushed more greatly, leading to better results. Moreover, interval training can be less tedious and more efficient. Play around with your interval times until you find something comfortable, yet challenging.
Keep Your Phone Away
Way too many people bring their cell phones with them to the gym floor during their workouts. It is one of the most common time wasters as people spend much longer than they think during their rest periods on their phone. You are there to focus on yourself, not to text others or scroll through feeds. Of course, many people use their phones as music players or watches. Invest in one of those individual products alone and you will be less prone to suddenly realize you have rested much longer than needed.
If you really need your phone for playing your tunes, try working out in airplane mode. That way you can still play your music (if it’s saved), while being disconnected from other online distractions.
Train With A Friend
Having a workout partner to train with can be motivating and encouraging when you have someone else around. Barring any unnecessary idle chatter, a workout partner can help push you towards lifting more, running faster, etc. if you have a competitive tendency. Time can be better managed as you will be more aware of it elapsing when another is with you. As long as you both have the same goals in mind, your workout buddy can be a great source of motivation as well.
Despite differences in lives between individuals, one thing remains the same: everyone is subjected to the same 24 hours in a day. For many people, those 24 hours may seem a lot less, which in turn causes us to rush through our daily activities, including the time we spend at the gym. Take a moment to assess your own situations and you will realize that the minutes you can save on a daily basis can summate to a much greater amount.
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