How To Get The Best Bang For Your Time In The Gym
Everybody’s busy, I know that. Heck, as a personal trainer I’ve heard this excuse so many times: “Sorry Tyler can’t make it today, something came up and I don’t have time to get to the gym.”
Time is probably our most critical resource. You can’t get it back. And when things get crazy busy at work or at home, how do you find time to stay in shape and to exercise? Not everyone on the planet has 1 hour every day to workout, right?
Wait, but who said you need 1 hour? And who said you need to work out every day or 5 days a week? What if I told you that you can achieve all your fitness goals by just working out for 30-40 minutes, 3 times per week? That’s less than 2 hours of your time in one week.
Got your attention? Alright, here’s how.
Set your goal
The first and foremost thing you need to do is to set a goal. What do you want to get out of your workouts? It may be losing weight, improving your endurance or simply becoming a healthier person. Or maybe you want to become muscular, if you are a guy, or have a nice but, if you’re a gal.
Whatever it is, you need to figure that out first. That way, your entire workout routine and your diet plan will be focused on that particular goal. Without a target you are just drifting around, wasting your time and you will end up nowhere.
So figure out what you want to achieve and work towards that in the gym. Get rid of the fluff activities which don’t help your cause.
If you want to develop your endurance, stop doing HITT or weight lifting. If you want to become muscular, stop wasting time on the treadmill and put more of your time and effort into the weightlifting. If you want to just have a good health condition do a variety of both cardio and resistance training. Tailor your workouts to your goals.
Warm up faster
Most people will spend 10-15 minutes just to warm up. Warming up is an important step and you should not skip it as it prevents injuries. As a certified personal trainer, I would be a completly ignorant if I told you otherwise. So always warm up before your workouts.
What you can do though, is try to speed up that process a little bit. An easy trick would be to wear a hoodie while you are warming up. Another trick that I use all the time is to set the treadmill on a steep incline level and hold some dumbbells while I walk for 5 minutes or so. And while I’m doing my incline walking I’m also doing some lateral raises or bicep curls. This gets the blood flowing really fast.
Do super-sets and drop-sets
This is a huge time saver for any gym goer. For those of you who are not familiar with these terms, let me get you up to speed really quick.
Supersets refer to sets that are part of different exercises that target different body parts, done in a row with no resting time in between. A common example is to superset biceps with triceps. So you would do 1 set of bicep curls and then go straight to doing one set of triceps extensions.
Since you are targeting opposite muscle groups you will be able to effectively train both muscles. This allows you to train twice as fast as you normally would. If you want to get really crazy with it you can do triple sets – three sets of three different exercises/muscle groups.
Drop sets refer to the same exercise and it basically means that you are doing the same set two times, but you are decreasing the weight on the second set. So you could bench press 225 for ten reps, then immediately after that you could drop the weight down to 135 and do another 10 reps.
Drop sets allow you to get in more volume in less time. Another thing you can do to maximize your productivity in the gym is to combine supersets with drop sets. There are countless possibilities here. Just experiment and see if it grows on you.
Focus on the exercises that matter
There are tens if not hundreds of different machines in a commercial gym. Which one should you use? What exercises should you do? Is there such a thing as good and bad exercises? Well, not really. All exercises have their role. But some are more effective than others.
Generally speaking compound movements (or exercises) tend to work better. As opposed to isolation exercises, these types of movements activate more muscle groups and allow you to use heavier weights. Common examples of compound exercises are bench press, shoulder press, squats, deadlifts, pull ups and chin ups.
So if your goal is to get bigger and stronger or at least tone up a little bit, you can include more of these exercises in your routine. If you have extra time to isolation exercises too, if not you can skip them altogether.
High-intensity interval training
Lastly but not least, if you want to do cardio and your goal is to lose fat, your best pick is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This type of cardio is the quickest and the most effective of all.
By doing just 15 minutes of sprint drills you can burn as many calories as you would if you were jogging for 30-40 minutes. On top of that, too much running can actually have a negative impact on your health. Not to mention that you would also benefit from the so-called afterburn effect as well – that will help you burn even more calories for up to 24 hours after you are done training.
So that’s it guys and gals. This is how you become more effective and more productive in the gym. Have a goal, focus your workouts on that goal, and do stuff such as supersets and drop sets, don’t spend hours on cardio.
Oh, and I didn’t mention one thing – stop checking your phone after every set. Put it away and get in the zone, focus solely on training.