9 Time Hacks to Speed-Up Your Workout, Without Losing Effectiveness
“Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin
It sounds too good to be true. Can you really shorten the time it takes for you to work out while still getting the same benefit? You definitely can… and here’s how.
You’re a busy parent. You only have so much time in the day. Despite that, you’ve committed to a daily fitness routine, which is step one. Now make the most of it. Here’s how:
- Have a Plan – One of the saddest sights in a gym is when you see someone walking around aimlessly from machine to machine. They do a little bit of this, a little bit of that. After an hour of misguided exercise, maybe they have broken a sweat. The result… time wasted with no real benefits. If you are going to commit the time, make sure you have a plan written down with details about reps, sets and exercises. Ensure the effort you put in is well rewarded and gets you the benefits you are looking to achieve.
- Be Prepared – The first thing that likely comes to mind when I mention being prepared, is having all your stuff ready to go as soon as you are ready to workout. Having your water, equipment, clothes, etc., are all good recommendations. However, just as important, is being prepared for everything outside of your workout. For example, if you have meals prepared for the week, and everything you need laid out ahead of time, you won’t have to rush around before and after your workout. Every minute counts when you are a busy parent.
- Have a Strategic Warm-up – Warming up is different from stretching. A good warm-up should last 5-10 minutes, and focus on activating the muscles you are about to use during your workout, as well as getting your heart rate up. Full body movements like jumping jacks, pushups, squats and even burpees make for a great warm-up for just about any workout. Static stretching is just wasted time, and provides more benefit after a workout. Plan ahead so you don’t spend extra time on a warm-up that doesn’t help.
- Time Your Rest Periods – This is one of the most effective time-saving techniques I have used to shorten my own workouts. You will be shocked when you realize how much time you waste between sets once you do this. This simple fix helps to eliminate unnecessarily long breaks and distractions. If you are lifting light to moderate weights, (8-15 reps), 45-90 seconds is plenty of rest. If you are lifting heavier weights for power, (4-6 reps), 2-3 minutes may be necessary. By timing your rest periods, you also get the added benefit of keeping your heart rate up and taking advantage of a cardio effect and more calorie burn.
- Cut Out the Chatter – This one may be hard if you have a regular group of friends you exercise with. However, time spent talking before, during and after your workout can really add on to your workout minutes. I am not suggesting you be unfriendly. Having social support is an excellent way to stay accountable and motivated. However, using the timed rest period technique above, or a good set of ear buds, can help you stay focused without coming off as rude.
- Eliminate Distractions – Everyone needs a little motivation to get them going during a workout. Whether it is music, podcasts or your favorite TV show on in the background, most of us use something. However, if you find that your workouts are taking too long, this is a good place to look for improvements. Before I started timing my rest periods, I used to watch sports TV as I worked out. I would get caught up looking at scores or highlights, and without realizing it, I would waste lots of time just staring at the TV. You may not want to get rid of everything, but pay attention to whether or not your media has become an issue.
- Supersets/Combos/Complexes – Supersets, combos and complexes are great ways to save time while also getting an intense workout. These techniques combine several moves into one move, or have you transitioning from one movement to the next without any rest. You can save time and get a more intense, fat burning workout than if you used traditional single set methods. If you haven’t tried these yet, mix them in this week.
- Major Muscle Groups – If you are limited on time, make sure your workout hits the most important muscle groups for overall fitness and fat burning (which you should be doing anyway). If you do nothing else each workout, make sure you take care of your major muscle groups (chest, back, quads, hamstrings, shoulders, core). Focusing on these muscle groups alone will help you burn more fat and improve your overall health and mobility. The majority of the exercises that work these critical muscle groups also work the secondary muscles in your arms, core, and lower legs. So if you can only do a few exercises, hit the squats and stop wasting time on the curl machine.
- Fast Pass – Don’t Wait in Lines – If you have ever been to Disney, you know about the fast-pass. This is one of the most amazing things imaginable when you are surrounded by hoards of hopped up kids waiting to get creeped-out on the “It’s a Small World” ride… If you work out in a gym, then you have undoubtedly had to wait for a machine or piece of equipment to open up. This definitely adds unnecessary time to a workout and kills your momentum. While these aren’t exactly Disney-style waiting lines, and there isn’t a fast pass that I am aware of, there are still a couple of options that can help you bypass any waiting. For starters, get away from the machines. Every gym I have ever been in has crowds around the machines, and a wall full of lonely dumbbells, barbells and squat racks just begging for some attention. Free-weights provide a better workout anyway, so if you are on a machine circuit, maybe try some other options. It is also a good idea to have backup exercises in mind for each workout in case your equipment is locked up. For example, if you are supposed to do bench press with a barbell, and someone is on the equipment, hit 3 sets of dumbbell bench presses or pushups instead. Keep your workouts going by being flexible. You may also have more fun with a new and variable while you are at it.
There you have it, nine great ways to shorten your workouts without sacrificing effectiveness. I would suggest using them all, but using just one will immediately make your workouts more efficient. Break through your obstacles and get moving today.
For more helpful and entertaining articles, check us out HERE.