Sadly, time is money and I frequently get asked by friends, family and clients how to make their workouts a little more time efficient. I think this is a great question, so decided to share my three top tips that I use when I'm training myself or clients.
Tips 1 - Little and Often
If you compare workouts to revising for your GCSEs exams when you were back at school. The students that were most successful revised in bite-sized chunks. This application rings true for success in the gym. The people that reach their goal are not the people I see workout intensively for hours a couple of times a week. No, it's the ones that consistently hit the gym daily. It is all about little and often or the phase personal trainers love to use "consistency not intensity". This rule is simply about adaptations, if you consistently ask more from your body it will respond and you will be surprised at how quickly.
To summerise, I would aim for between 30 - 45 minutes five days a week. That's just over 6% of your week spent exercising; not a crazy amount, right.
Tip 2 - Smart Cardio
This next tip is something that I feel strongly about as there is so much quality research to back it up.
Try and reframe from spending hours a week hitting the treadmill deck or bouncing up and down on the cross-trainer. You can achieve similar or better health benefits in less time using HITT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training). Here's another of my analogies. I remember my Dad telling me how his father used to take their car out for a "blast" on the motorway every weekend to "burn off" the deposits that build-up in the engine from idling around town at 3o mph. I am confident to say that most of us are idling through life and we need to give our hearts and bodies a similar "blast" to keep us running smoothly. This is where the HITT workout rules over slow and long.
Below are some examples of HITT workouts for you to try but bare in mind that you might have to adjust the workout to your abilities. I would do a 5 minute warm up of your choice before taking these on. Also, please check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime.
Wattbike (my favourite) - complete fifteen 20 second all-out sprints, with 40 second 125w baseline cycle between each one. I suggest using resistance 5 with zero magnets. No rest time.
Woodway Running Machine (2nd favourite) - complete ten 30 second all-out sprints, with 30 second brisk walks between each one. This is tough, but awesome! No rest time.
Cross-trainer - complete six 1 min full-speed sprints, with 1 min slow between each one. I would start with resistance 4 and see how you get on. No rest time.
Running Machine - complete eight 1 min sprints (8-12kph), with 1 min slow walks (5.5 - 6.5kph) between each one. Try this with zero incline then add a some "hill" if feeling enthusiastic. No rest time.
Tip 3 - Smart Lifts
When it comes to lifting weights, rest between sets (rounds) is important. If you don't leave enough rest time you won't be able to repeat the same repetitions with the same quality, but leave it too long and you're just burning through quality gym time.
A simple technique I use to cut time by half is to superset exercises. This mean doing two exercise that use mostly opposing muscle groups. Trust me there are many, but here are a handful of the most common:
- Chest press and low row
- Bicep curl and tricep press
- Shoulder press and pull ups
- Flys and reverse flys
- Leg extension and leg curl machines
You can also superset upper and lower body. For example, combine squats/deadlift/walking lunges with chest press/lows row/shoulder press/pull ups/bicep curls/tricep press/ flys etc.
The three tips above should get you working out smarter and help you make the most of your gym sessions in the least amount of time. Depending on your goal, though, you may need a more tailored program e.g. you are training for a marathon, a cycling sportive or a specific sport. In this case please seek advice from your local expert. If you would like my help, then please feel free to contact me and we can work together to build a tailored training programme for you.