5 Ways to Optimize Your Gym Time
We've all been there. You're at the gym, you look at the clock and oops. An hour has passed by, and you've barely made a dent into your workout.
Distractions can be plentiful at the gym, and the way in which you approach your workout will inevitably be reflected in the results you get. No one wants to be wasting time at the gym of all places, so make sure you're not half-assing your valuable time. Phoning it in for an hour at the gym taking selfies is not going to get you anywhere compared to a focused, efficient workout for 40 minutes. Learn how to optimize your gym time and efforts to get the most bang for your buck!
Make sure you're making the most of your time at the gym by keeping these 5 things in mind:
1. Put your phone on airplane mode
You casually open up Instagram or Facebook on your phone after finishing a set, and oh wait. Now it's about double the rest time you were supposed to take.
Shut out all the noise + temptation to distract by flicking on the airplane mode switch.
You don't get distracted, it's not physically in the way of your workout (my phone has fallen out of my waistband several of a time, mid-kettlebell swing), and you conserve battery life for your phone so you can crank up that music.
2. Pay attention to form
Quality over quantity.
I always tell my clients this- the number of reps isn't an end-all be-all. I'd much rather you give me 10 quality pushups over 15 crappy half-pushups cranked out Tasmanian devil-style.
Also, you can pretty much make anything difficult. There is a MASSIVE difference between doing an exercise while fully engaging and recruiting all the proper muscles versus simply going through the motions to complete a rep.
By fully activating your muscles you should be using, you are getting much more out of the lift than if you were to aimlessly just try to complete a move.
Example: let's say that you are doing a set of 10 pushups. Person A rushes through his reps and finishes the set in 10 seconds. Person B takes the appropriate time to fully engage and finish each rep and finishes the set in 20 seconds. There is a training term we use, called "time under tension" that refers to the time that a muscle is under an active tension. I'm not saying you should spend 10 minutes there, but the more time under tension, the more muscle fibers recruited, the more energy used (and calorie burn, if that's your thing).
3. Take your exact rest time
There are two types of people:
1. Antsy people who rush into their next set without much rest OR
2. People who take their sweet-a** time sauntering to the water fountain and back and checking themselves out in a mirror along the way.
Type 1: Why you need to take your full rest time:
Your fascia needs some time to rehydrate. (A decent briefing on fascia, here). Think of your fascia as a sponge: by using your muscles to complete a set of an exercise, you are essentially squeezing that fascia sponge and depleting it of its hydration. As you rest, that sponge is soaking up the hydration from your body again to prepare for your next set.
Your muscles also need time to rest to ensure that you complete the next set properly. If you are cranking out your 3 sets of squats no problemo with barely any rest time in between, you probably should be making things harder.
Type 2- Why you need to hurry your butt up:
30 seconds or whatever your rest time is goes by a lot faster than you think. Stop lounging around, stop taking selfies while flexing, and get to work. There is absolutely ZERO reason why someone needs to be doing a 2-hour workout unless you're Hugh Jackman in prep for Wolverine, or a specialized pro athlete.
4. Have a plan / program
Do you wander into the gym and think to yourself, "what should I do for my workout today?"
Chances are, you're probably not going to get the most effective workout, as you wander from machine to machine, doing a random amount of repetitions with no set intention,.
Always have a plan before you set foot into your gym.
Even better if you have a specific program tailored to your goals. Even if it is the most basic, simple, generic program in the world, you will be far more efficient in the gym than if left to wander aimlessly. Set a goal for your session and go for it.
5. Get off the Cardio Machine
I already went on my cardio-bunny spiel in my other post about fitness not being one size fits all, but here are some highlights to read:
- Steady-state cardio (where you are going primarily at one speed/resistance for a decent duration of time) does have benefits for cardiovascular health (hence the name, cardio), but it on its own will not get you lean.
- You may lose pounds on the scale doing this, but that is primarily going to be lean muscle mass, which is the exact opposite of what you want. Why? Muscle is what keeps that metabolism stoked and it's going to be your best friend in fat loss.
- Your body is an efficient, smart machine. The more cardio you do, the more your body becomes efficient at burning calories. That sounds great, right? Nope. Not when the 20 minute run that used to demand 200 calories from your body now only demands 150, even though you put in the same effort. It increasingly becomes a game of higher investments with lower returns- nobody likes that at all.
Instead of steady-state cardio, why not try a some interval training instead? Will give you far better results in terms of what I think you are looking for if you're paddling away on an elliptical...