Getting your workout done in a timely manner has just as much to do with what you do before you get to the gym as it does what you do when you’re actually there. If you’re an early morning exerciser set out your outfit and packed gym bag so that all of your things are ready to go as soon as you get up in the morning. If you’re more likely to head to the gym after work, packing your gear and heading there straight from the office will eliminate time wasted stopping at home. If possible, it’s also a good idea to arrive at the gym dressed and ready to workout. This will save you from spending idle time in the locker room.
The first step towards improving your fitness is setting a goal. The next step is making a plan; this includes planning out your workouts. If you have no idea what your plan of action is, chances are you’ll waste plenty of time trying to figure out what to do when you get to the gym. If you’re super serious, take time on the weekends to plan out each of your workouts for the week, or at the very least, come up with a strategy while you’re on the way there. (Think, 30-minute interval workout on the Stairmaster or a 10-exercise strength circuit.) Showing up with a plan of attack will save you time by eliminating aimless wandering, and it will make your workouts and overall plan more effective, too.
Texting and talking on the phone may be obvious time wasters and are both habits you should avoid at the gym, but since most phones double as music players these days the device has turned into a time-wasting triple threat. How many of your gym sessions become unnecessarily extended because you have to find the perfect song before finishing your last set of squats? Save time by putting together a premade workout playlist and stick to it through your entire workout.
Ultimately, your workout strategy all depends on your goals. If you want to run a marathon, your program will probably incorporate more running and endurance training. But if you’re prepping for a bikini contest, you’ll probably place a bigger focus on weight lifting and muscle building. However, for the average gym-goer looking to get the most bang for their buck in terms of time spent at the gym, the best plan will revolve around getting your heart rate higher.
The higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn. Instead of spending 40 minutes on the treadmill running at the same pace, reduce your total workout time to 25 or 30 minutes, but incorporate challenging intervals that will get your heart working harder. Not only will you likely burn the same amount of calories or more, but your strength, speed, and overall fitness will improve, too.
Sure, the gym is a social space, but if you tend to spend more time blabbing than sweating it could be a reason why you’re struggling to accomplish your goals. That’s not to say that you can’t say hi to friends, there’s no need to be unfriendly. But if you’re serious about your goals and you only have a certain amount of time to get your workout done, kindly let your buddies know you mean business and that you’ll catch up with them another time.
One of the most important parts of making the most of your time at the gym is going in with a plan, but what if you’re not sure how to make one? At the end of the day, no type of exercise is a “waste of time,” but performing the same workout every day is a common reason why many exercisers fail to achieve the results they’re aiming for. Maybe you only feel comfortable with one piece of equipment or you’re unsure about weight-lifting exercises. Learning new exercises and workouts (whether that be through working with a personal trainer or taking a few new exercise classes) is one of the best investments you can make towards making the most of your time at the gym.
Unless you’re a body builder, it doesn’t make sense to spend a huge amount of time focusing on one muscle group or body part during a single workout. If you’re aiming to sculpt a defined six pack your exercise routine will need to go way beyond abdominal exercises. Sure, performing lots of crunches, planks, and bicycles will strengthen and build your ab muscles, but you probably won’t see muscle definition there until your overall body fat percentage is reduced. The thing is though; your body decides where it wants to lose fat first. So just because you do tons of sit ups every day doesn’t mean any extra fat around your stomach will be the first to go. This means it’s much more effective to challenge all of your muscles by incorporating a wide variety of exercises in your routine.
So you made your plan, you got to the gym on time and your workout is on a roll, when suddenly it comes to a halt because another member is using the equipment needed for your next exercise. This isn’t an excuse to put your workout on pause while you wait for them to finish, though. Instead of waiting around try to figure out an alternative for the exercise, or move on to the next part of your plan and return to what you skipped later on. This is a good example of a time where having knowledge of different exercise variations would come in handy, too.