Fitness Tips: Using Your Gym Time Effectively
Using your gym time effectively is really important if you have limits on how long you can spend training. These tips will show you how you can cut down your gym and workout time but still make health, fitness and physique improvements…
Include warm up in your set
One of the best tricks for using your gym time effectively is to include your warm up in your training. In an ideal world there’d be time for movement prep, joint mobilisations, foam rolling etc, but if time is limited there is a way around that.
Grab an empty bar or light dumbbells and perform 12-20 reps of the exercise you were going to do. After a couple of sets of this you will be warmed up enough to safely perform the exercise, building up to your working weight after each set.
With my personal training clients I often use kettlebells in the warm ups – it’s stretching, strength and conditioning in one exercise, plus it’s easy to scale up or down as a warm up exercise.
Use your rest periods for mobility work
During the rest periods in between sets, use this time to perform stretches that will allow you to stay injury free and supple. There is some research that says you shouldn’t stretch the muscles you are about to use, but if this concerns you then stretch another part of your body – rarely will a stretch be totally useless.
This is a tip I learned from Dan John and I have used it effectively ever since. As I’ve gotten older I’ve started to pick up injuries that have accumulated over the years, so this really helps me to alleviate them.
You can even use this time to fit in a little foam rolling. As I’ve gotten older, if I feel I’m tight in my shoulders or chest I often will foam roll or stretch during my rest periods to help prevent injury and make the next set a better one. Mobility work between sets is a good way of using your gym time effectively.
Use Compound Exercises
Compound exercises (multi-joint) such as squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench presses, military presses should make up the vast majority of most weight training programmes anyway, but this is even more important if time is limited.
Hitting multiple muscle groups in one go removes any need for accessory work and in turn cuts down your training time considerably. Too many people waste a lot of time on unnecessary accessory work such as bicep curls when they aren’t able to do a single pull up yet.
Using your gym time effectively means not wasting time on useless stuff, so focus on the important tasks and leave the accessory work until you have more time.
Supersets are a couple of exercises performed back-to-back without any rest in between. These can be exercises targeting the same muscle groups or totally different muscle groups – it’s up to you. Supersets are the ultimate tool for using your gym time effectively!
The benefits of performing supersets are that the workout time is reduced, the intensity is increased dramatically and it allows the workout volume to be almost doubled as there is almost no rest period in the session. There are hormonal benefits to training this way, not to mention increased muscle building and fat burning outcomes.
Don’t Mix Training Modalities
Lots of gym beginners will mix modalities when then train – they’ll often do a treadmill workout, a row, a bike session and then some weights. This takes too long and isn’t very effective.
What you end up with when you mix modalities is a sub-par workout – you aren’t getting a great cardio workout because you are saving something in the tank for your weight training, but your weight training is compromised because you’ve already fatigued yourself at some level during the cardio work. It’s two bad workouts rather than a single good one.
There’s a solution to this – you don’t mix modalities. If you only have limited time, you pick whichever is the most important to you and focus on that one. If you are really short on time, go for a resistance-based conditioning workout such as these…
- Partner HIIT Circuit Workout
- Kettlebell Swing and Pushup Workout
- Home Based Bodyweight Workout
- Lunch Time Workout
- Home Based Resistance Workout
Even if you have barely any time in your day (which I don’t believe – we all have at least 10 minutes in our day), there is an exercise solution. You also don’t need to spend hours in the gym every week. I’ve said dozens of times that a good 30 minute workout beats a bad hour workout hands down.
Use these tips on using your gym time effectively and you’ll see yourself still making fitness improvements even if your gym time is really limited.