Time-saving workout tips
Most people know they should exercise or exercise more. The benefits are well known and include weight management, improved health, increased functionality, improved athletic performance, enhanced sleep, better immune system function, increased longevity and looking better naked!
But, and despite all these well-documented reasons to work out, many of us find it hard to exercise frequently enough enjoy these myriad benefits.
One of the biggest obstacles to exercise is time – or the lack of it to be precise. We live in an age where time is of a premium and when time is in short supply, inevitably it is our workout that gets cut short.
For many of us, saying we have no time to exercise is not unlike a child saying their dog has eaten their homework – it’s plausible enough that it might just be true but, 9 times out of 10, is a fabrication. Did you know that the average Brit watches four-hours of TV per day? And that really you only need to exercise for three to five hours PER WEEK for optimal results? Mmmmmmm.
Of course, there is no point wasting time when you work out so this article has lots of tried and tested in the trenches tips designed to help you maximize your workout efficiency…
1. Stick with whole body workouts
Whole body workouts are the ultimate in exercise efficiency. If you do a split workout where different muscles are trained on different days, you are going to have to hit the gym anywhere from four to six times a week. However, if you do whole body workouts, you can reduce your training frequency to two times a week or even one workout every four to five days. For example…
Workout one – e.g. Monday
Single arm dumbbell rows
Triceps push downs
Stability ball crunches
Workout two – e.g. Thursday
Three to five sets of 6 to 12-reps will take you no more than an hour per workout.
2. Do your cardio from home
Why waste time travelling to and from your gym to do cardio when you can do it from home and save yourself a whole lot of unnecessary commuting? Go for a run or cycle from home or dust off your jump rope and use it in your garden. Not only will you save time, you’ll probably have a more productive workout simply because you won’t have as many distractions to contend with.
3. Superset everything
A superset involves performing two exercises back to back which essentially halves the amount of time you spend during your workout resting. For example, instead of doing three sets of biceps curls and then three sets of triceps pushdowns and resting 60-seconds between each set, go straight from the biceps exercise to the triceps exercise and then rest. Ideally, supersets should be comprised of dissimilar exercises so that one movement provides an active rest for the other but, if you are sufficiently advanced, you can also do supersets using similar exercises to pump up your workout intensity – e.g. bench press immediately followed by press-ups.
4. Walk whenever and wherever you can
Many people exercise specifically for weight control and that can take a lot of time. Instead of doing lots of structured cardio, you can increase your daily calorie burn by simply walking as much as you can during your day. Walk to work, take a walk at lunch time, walk up to the next floor to deliver a message to a colleague rather than email or phone, walk to the shops. Look for walking opportunities and try and clock up 10,000 steps per day – use a smart phone or pedometer to track your efforts. By walking more you negate the need for lots of cardio so you’ll save lots of valuable time. Of course, you’ll experience greater weight loss if you follow a healthy, restricted calorie diet…
5. Use compound exercises
Compound exercises use multiple muscle groups at the same time which means you don’t need to do so many exercises – a great time-saving ploy. For example, you could do leg extensions, leg curls, hip adductions, hip abductions, hip extensions and back extensions – all isolation exercises – or you could do squats. Squats, one of the ultimate compound exercises, work virtually every muscle in your lower body simultaneously. Focusing on compound exercises will save you lots of time and also generally are better for muscle building and improving athletic performance.
6. Don’t write off mini-workouts
For reasons unknown, the fitness industry has a big hang up on workouts that last an hour. It seems that, to the uninitiated observer, workouts lasting less than one hour are all but pointless. Forget this dogma and, when time is short, consider briefer workouts. Twenty-minutes of interval training can easily be as beneficial as 60-minutes of jogging and a 30-minute circuit workout is just as useful as a much longer bodybuilding –style workout. If time is short, make use of the time you have got rather than skip your workout entirely. Often, shorter workouts are more productive because they force you to pick up the pace, prioritize and stop lollygagging!
Lack of time is a legitimate excuse for not exercising but, as the saying goes, make time to exercise or make time to be ill. Remember; even short workouts are beneficial.