Against all odds, you’ve wrangled your busy schedule and managed to block out precious gym time. But bad habits looming throughout your workout are time sucks, making your workout less effective and your results harder to achieve. Banish these gym time wasters to maximize your workout session.
1. Your Rest Period
You may be taking rest period a little too literally. Sure, you can (and should) rest the muscle groups you are targeting in between sets. But that doesn’t mean you need to be a motionless lump endlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed on your phone (as tempting as that can be, I know). Find something else to target to make the most of your “down” time between sets, like using hip flexor exercises to work on your posture. Or if burning calories is your aim, you can walk around or do jumping jacks to keep your heart rate up.
2. Separating Cardio and Strength Training
Why do two separate workouts when you can combine them into one? I’m a huge fan of getting more done is less time, which is why my go-to workout is rucking. Rucking involves walking or hiking with a weighted backpack, which gives you a great cardio workout while also building up your abs, shoulder, and back muscles. Cut down your gym time by knocking out two solid workouts with one exercise.
3. Too Many Reps
It’s simple: the more reps you do, the more time you spend at the gym. Advocates of high rep training (15 reps or more) like to point out that this approach helps muscle endurance. Advocates of low rep training point to powerlifters who build strength with five or fewer reps.
Like many things in life, I think the perfect balance is found somewhere in the middle. Aiming for 8 to 12 reps is an ideal way to build muscle.
If you can pull out 15 reps with that weight, it is too light for you. Focus instead on doing fewer reps with a higher weight as a way to save time in the gym. You should feel pretty tired by the last few reps (while still maintaining the proper form of course).
4. Poor Form
Poor form is a personal trainer’s nightmare. It puts you at risk of injury, ranging from a light sprain to catastrophic incident. It also wastes your time. When you use poor form, you are not putting enough impact on the muscles you are trying to target. This means you are not getting the full advantage of your reps and are not getting as much progress as you could.
As much as we hate to be “that person”, watching yourself in the mirror as you execute a rep is a great way to monitor your form. Every so often, I catch myself doing an exercise wrong and adjust accordingly.
5. The Water Fountain
Always bring a water bottle to the gym. Otherwise, all of those stops to the water fountain for a quick drink do add up. Every second counts right?