When pressed for time, you’ll need to have the tools to maximize your gym sessions for success.
Rather than simply going to the gym and hoping for the best, making the most out of every gym session, regardless of time availability, is imperative for effective and efficient progress.
In this article, I’ll breakdown some of the best tips for maximizing your time at the gym, especially if that time is limited.
Plan It Out
The first step in maximizing the little time you have in the gym is to plan out exactly what you need to do when you get to there.
Planning your workout in advance allows you to make critical decisions such as the focus, the weight, reps and sets you’ll use. Additionally, doing so can even allow you to figure out exactly what exercises and pieces of equipment you’ll need.
Also, by planning ahead of time, you can ensure that you have a backup plan if things don’t work out how you’d hope them to.
We’ve all been in the situation of having a plan to squat, only to find the single squat rack in the gym occupied for an hour. This situation can cause confusion and much time wasted if you don’t know exactly what will happen when you get to the gym.
By having a plan ahead of time, you can ensure that your time at the gym is spent exercising rather than contemplating how you’ll workout.
Narrow Your Focus
In addition to making a plan, you should narrow the main focus of your workout before you get to the gym.
For example, are you training for strength, muscle growth, fat loss, etc.? The answer to this question will drive how you exercise and even which pieces of equipment you use during your workout.
Often times, people go to the gym with a general idea of what they want to work on. However, if you are pressed for time, yet want maximum benefit, you should narrow your specific focus down before showing up to the gym.
If, for example, your goal is to improve strength, you can maximize your time in the gym by focusing on compound movements, which will help produce the most strength. Doing so is far better than using a couple of isolation movements.
If your goal is muscle growth, you can focus on one to two muscle groups specifically, rather than trying to fit whole body sessions in. Doing so can help maximize the muscle growth response for a few muscle groups, rather than a subpar one for more.
If you’re hoping to lose body fat, ensuring you’re using intense, full body exercises with minimal rest will likely help you burn the maximal amount of calories per session. Again in this situation, a full body, intense workout would likely be superior to a couple of isolation movements.
Focus on a specific goal and muscle group to help drive your workout in an efficient manner.
Rest According To Your Focus
In order to maximize the time you are spending in the gym, you should rest according to your focus. Remember that you’re trying to maximize your time there, according to your specific goals, which can mean increased or shortened rest times.
For example, strength-based workouts will require a much longer rest time after each set than will a total body fat loss workout. Whereas the former should be focused on maximum strength gain, the latter should be focused on increasing calorie burn.
As a general rule of thumb, if your focus is on strength, you should rest anywhere from 2-5 minutes in between sets. Doing so will allow for ample recovery, producing the greatest strength response.
When it comes to muscle building, rest periods from 1-3 minutes are typically optimal to have a combination of metabolic stress and recovery.
Fat loss-focused workouts, however, typically call for short rest periods ranging from 0 seconds to 1 minute. Especially with a restricted timeframe, doing so will allow for the greatest metabolic stress and calorie burn.
Adjusting your rest periods based on your focus will allow for the greatest benefit for that given focus, even if your time is restricted.
Keep Intensity High
If you are pressed for time in the gym, you need to ensure that you maintain a very high intensity.
This means putting in the most effort possible for each session and even exercise set. When time is restricted to 30 minutes or less, the amount of sets and total volume you’ll be able to complete will be fairly minimal.
For this reason, you need to ensure that you’re getting the most benefit out of single sets. Whereas a 2-hour workout has more room for error and slacking, a 30-minute workout does not afford such luxury.
When exercising with restricted time, there is no place for light exercise. Work hard with a focus to ensure maximal benefit from the least amount of sets.
Start With Compound Movements, Then Isolation
When you are pressed for time and hoping to maximize a short workout, it’s in your best interest to first use compound movements and then move to isolation movements.
Compound movements are aptly named because they recruit multiple muscle groups and joints to execute a given movement. Given this, compound movements activate the largest amount of muscle and thus, the greatest potential growth response.
For example, a barbell squat will recruit most of the leg musculature almost maximally in addition to calling on back, shoulders, arms and core. On the contrary, a leg extension works almost entirely just the quadriceps muscles.
It’s no wonder that a barbell squat will probably provide greater benefit when pressed for time. Certainly leg extensions have their place, but if you have minimal time for the most benefit, using a compound movement first and then the isolation movements will provide greater overall benefit.
I suggest focusing on the most demanding and beneficial, compound movements first and then incorporating isolation movements when you can.
Celebrity Trainer Shows How To Maximize Your Exercise Session in 30 Minutes or Less.
If you find yourself in a situation of having restricted gym time, finding ways to maximize your time will ensure that you’re continuing in the right direction.
Using these tips will be imperative for effective and efficient progress in the gym, even if you are pressed for time.