How to get better workouts in less time
Getting the most out of your workout is important when you're busy. If you're already struggling to find time for the gym or your personal trainer, you especially need to maximize the time you're investing.
How best to spend your time from a pure training/physiological sense is obviously a complicated subject open to all sorts of debate; but there's plenty of ways we can turn a hour workout into 45 minutes or get more out of a 45 minute workout.
Get focused and you'll be surprised at how much you can actually pack into a small amount of time! These are some of the big things that were holding me back and I still see in the gym with others all the time.
The ways we waste time in the gym
Not monitoring break times between sets- We often have a break time of something like 30 seconds or a minute in our head, but unless we're actually timing it, we start estimating and might be taking far longer breaks than we realize. It's quite easy to get lost staring off into space or at our phones and lose a minute or two, which add up over the course of the workout.
Too much social time- This can happen with a workout buddy, personal trainer or just people at the gym. This can be complicated as obviously working with others provides all sorts of benefits and motivation. But it can become an issue when there's chatting for a straight hour. There should be some degree of focus on the task at hand and when every week is a discussion of the latest relationship drama or TV shows, it can be a distraction and slow things down.
No plan, or no backup plan- Coming up with a workout on the spot is usually a bad idea unless you're at a more advanced level. Have a specific routine in your head or written down before you go so you're not wandering around but more importantly, have a backup plan for when the piece of equipment you need is inevitably unavailable. You're probably not getting on the squat rack on a weekday at 6pm at your local gym, so have a backup exercise ready to go. Precious moments are lost figuring out what to do instead- and nobody likes standing in the middle of a packed gym with that confused look on their face!
Your phone- This is obvious, but few things can suck the life out of a workout than an overused phone. Music is great and does actually have a positive, tangible impact on a workout; I just don't see many people who bring their phones in and don't get distracted, even in airplane mode. They're just too effective at drawing our attention and constant changing of songs or monitoring fitness apps can take away much more time than we realize and that's just the stuff with the ringer off. Leave the phone in the locker and just focus on what you're doing to save a little time and have a better workout.
Focus in general- From phones to friends to just the thoughts in our heads, do everything you can to really think about what you're doing- visualizing the muscles you're working and really squeezing on every rep. Maintaining proper form and thinking about what you're trying to accomplish. It sounds a little flimsy, but I assure you you'll move through your workouts more quickly, efficiently and with a greater sense of purpose. Years ago, I heard Arnold Schwarzenegger describe that as a secret to success and being a champion and it has always served me well.
The subtle impact of saving time in the gym
Individually, not all of these things take up a lot of time but collectively, you might be able to shave 5 or 10 minutes off your workout- and get a little more out of it in the time you are there. Those 10 minutes can often be the difference in being able to jam a session in during your lunch or on the way home from work.
The quicker we can complete an effective workout, the less of a mental burden the thought of working out might be for you in the beginning. We're getting busier all the time so always be on the lookout for ways to achieve your fitness goals in the most efficient way you can. Every second counts!
Feel great again with Cooper Health Coaching!
Cooper Health Coaching is a personal training and health coaching service located in Vancouver, B.C. providing in-person and online coaching for clients locally and across North America. Founder Geoff Cooper is certified as both a Health Coach and Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). To get in touch, click here.