Time-Efficient Workouts

Pressed for time and can’t get a workout in? This is a challenge most of us face every day, so instead of thinking you’re the only one who is too busy to shape up, shift your attention and become a more time-efficient exerciser. Next time you are at the gym, give the following tips a try and see how much time you can save.

Tip 1
Full body warm-up:
Avoid the bike. To make your warm-up most effective, perform some type of activity that involves the upper and lower body. My favorite is walking on a treadmill at a quick pace with the incline high enough to increase my heart rate and breathing. Focus on really pumping your arms when you walk. Do this for three or four minutes then lower the incline to a more comfortable level and perform forward and backward shoulder rotations. Follow this with some stretching of your arms. Continue walking for a couple more minutes, then go immediately into an upper body exercise and stretch your lower body on your breaks between sets. This way no time is wasted and all body parts are stretched before being used.

Tip 2
Try circuit training:
Circuit training involves a series of strength training exercises performed one after another. Since you are not working the same body part on each consecutive rotation, only a short rest is necessary. Not only will you save time, but with the body in constant motion you are actually receiving a cardio workout as well.

Tip 3
Take a pair of dumbbells with you:
Whenever you are using a machine that is in high demand simply take a pair of dumbbells with you. After you have performed one set on the machine, use the dumbbells to perform another exercise. You won’t lose your machine and this keeps you moving to the next body part. Don’t forget to be courteous to others; let them work in while you are performing your other exercise.

Tip 4
Do not wait for a machine:
Don’t stand around and wait for a machine. Using the same machine isn’t so important, it’s more important to work the same muscle. If you can’t get the barbell that you want, pick up a set of dumbbells. Strengthening the same muscle but in a slightly different way can actually help your training.

Tip 5
Work two muscles at the same time:
This usually works best when using free weights. For example, hold a set of dumbbells in your hands while performing lunges. Every time you step into the lunge position, curl the dumbbells to work your biceps. Or, raise the dumbbells over your head to work the shoulder muscles. Rise up on your toes after performing a squat to work your calves as well as the thigh muscles. Be creative!

Tip 6
Pair up two muscles of opposing functions:
Chest and back, quads and hams, inner and outer thighs—find your favorite exercise for each and perform your given set of reps for one, then switch to the other. Work each muscle group two or three times. You will have done two muscle groups before you know it.

Tip 7
Work a little harder:
Whether you are on a weight day or a cardio day, if you are pressed for time, pick up the intensity a little. With weight training, perform a few more reps for each set, or choose a slightly heavier weight. With cardio, go a little faster, work harder and perform a mode of exercise that uses the whole body. Remember to listen to your body—do not go beyond your limits and always maintain proper technique.

Tip 8
Focus on large muscle groups:
If time is tight and you absolutely need to cut out some exercises, cut out the ones involving the smaller muscles. Try to stick with the chest, back and thigh muscles. Your larger muscles burn more calories, contribute more toward proper posture and are essential for health-related strength.

Tip 9
Include a high intensity cardio session in your circuit:
Circuit training doesn’t have to be limited to different strength exercises. Include a two- to four-minute session on a bike or cross trainer. Focus on reaching an intensity level close to your maximum to get your heart rate up and keep it up while you continue with your next set of exercises. If you want to target the lower body, cycle immediately after a lower body strength exercise. If this is too intense, cycle after an upper body strength exercise. While bikes are most often recommended for this method of training, treadmills can also be used; however, only use a treadmill for high intensity training if you run on a regular basis—you don’t want to cause any injuries.

Tip 10
Bring a water bottle with you:
If you want to move quickly from one exercise to the next, don’t waste your time standing in line at the water fountain. Always carry a water bottle with you and remember thirst lags behind actual water needs, so don’t forget to drink.