You see it every time, the person who comes into the gym and spends more time walking around, looking in the mirror, checking their phone, and talking to anyone in sight. It’s no wonder either a) they never improve or b) their workouts take hours. I would rather get in, get it done, and get out.
Here are seven steps to make your workout the most efficient:
- Have a plan of attack. Go into the gym knowing exactly what you are going to do. Do not guess. When you go in without a plan, you waste time thinking about what to do next and looking around seeing what looks best. I know that when I have a plan for my workout, I am more focused and move quickly from exercise to exercise and therefore best utilizing my time.
- Ditch the cell phone. Plain and simple, it’s a distraction. Take some time away from texts, Instagram, emails, and Facebook. It only wastes your time. Think you need your cell phone for a timer? Use a sport watch or the second hand of a clock or even count. Trust me, it’s worth it.
- Do supersets or circuits. A superset is two different exercises performed back to back, without rest, and can either be the same or different muscle groups. A circuit is similar but usually contains four or more exercises. I like supersets and circuits because they are wildly efficient and condense your workout time. I am constantly moving and working. Simply, I get my workout done quicker while keeping my heart rate up.
- Cut the socializing. Gym time is to workout, and talking is best done over a meal or coffee. Like oil and water, they don’t mix. When you socialize, you are taking time away from your intended purpose. Workout hard, get it done, and hang out after.
- Don’t watch TV or read. This mostly applies to people using cardio machines like treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals (which I generally have a problem with, but that is for another time). When you watch TV or read, you get lost and don’t focus. Your thoughts are concentrated on whatever you are watching or reading and as a result, you don’t maximize your time
- Avoid the peak hours. I hate working out between 5:30 and 7:30 pm. Everyone is just off work and so they head to the gym. Consequently, the gym is at capacity and it is nearly impossible to get access to the equipment you need. Depending on the type of person you are, go early in the morning, on your lunch break, or later at night. You will have the gym to yourself and can move effortlessly and without waiting.
- More big muscles and movements, less isolation. Spend more time on pull ups, push ups, squats, and deadlifts and less time on bicep curls, tricep pulldowns, and calf raises. When you work the big muscles, you work the smaller ones too. Someone once asked me what I do for arms and I answered “lots of pull ups.” It works though! By working the big muscles, you work more muscles.
It’s not impressive if you spend two hours at the gym yet most of the time is wasted. I would much rather have an intense, high quality 45 minute workout than a workout twice as long that is a snoozefest. As Jason Statham (quite the badass if you ask me) puts it, “get serious, do 40 hard minutes, not an hour and a half of nonsense.”
Do you have a friend (or a significant other) who could benefit from saving time at the gym? Share this article with them to help them stop wasting countless hours. You might be saving them.