I’m a busy guy. I work three jobs. In three different locations. And the schedules vary. Fortunately, two of those jobs are at gyms—so even on days when I’m pressed for time, I can build in an hour or so for a workout.
Most of my clients are time-crunched too. They want to make every minute count, including the time they spend exercising. Being efficient, though, takes practice. Here are six easy tips for streamlining your time at the gym while building strength and stability.
1) Be realistic.
Even if you set aside an hour for working out, you probably won’t be lifting, swimming, or cycling the entire time. You may have change clothes. Or drive to the club or track. Or leave time to shower. That hour may actually amount to just 30 minutes when you’ve factored in everything else and the necessities of a warmup and cooldown (don’t cut those essentials!). Be honest about how much time you have—it’ll keep you from getting stressed.
1) Have a plan.
If you’re like most people, you probably bring a list with you when you go shopping for groceries. The list helps you stay on task—and maybe on budget. It ensures that you don’t forget something important. The same approach works for workouts. Before you lace up your shoes or lift a kettlebell, jot down a brief outline of what you intend to accomplish. Write down the number of minutes you’ll need for each portion of the workout.
2) Set up for success.
Before you begin, make sure the equipment you need is close at hand. If possible, gather all the weights, bands, mats, or other items you’ll need before you begin. You don’t want waste time in the middle of the workout searching for the right dumbbell.
3) Hide your smart phone.
Emails can wait. Selfies aren’t that important. You’ll also be more focused if you’re not toggling between songs or podcasts—so consider working out without your phone in sight.
4) Make up excuses.
If you’re exercising in a public place, there’s always a chance you’ll encounter a friend or even a stranger who wants to chew the fat. (There’s an ironic phrase, right?) Practice a few lines ahead of time that could close the conversation gracefully. Or wear headphones—even if they’re not plugged in or transmitting sound, they’ll deter some folks from chatting you up.
5) Fill your water bottle.
Hydration is important, but every trip to the water fountain will cost you a few minutes. Save the steps by keeping some H20 within arm’s reach.
6) Have a plan B.
There is no end to the obstacles that can impact a workout: You were going to run outdoors, but now it’s raining; you wanted to row on the ergometer at the gym, but someone else is on the machine. Rather than getting flummoxed or irritated, keep an alternative workout or two in your pocket. You’ll be less inclined to quit or skip the workout.
Not sure what to do for a plan B? Short on time for exercise today? Here’s a 25-minute routine that requires no equipment and can be done anywhere—no matter what the weather. Keep it for a rainy (or just busy) day.
27-MINUTE FULL BODY WORKOUT
- 1 minute of Jumping Jacks
- 1 minute of Butt Kicks
- 30 seconds of Bear Crawl
- 30 seconds of Duck Walk
- 1 minute of Neck and Wrist Rolls
16-minute Strength Exercises
20 seconds active / 10 seconds rest for 8 rounds each movement
- Air Squats
- Tricep Dips
- Russian Twists
5-minute Aerobic Conditioning
Cycle through this series for as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes
- 5 Burpees
- 20 Lunges (alternating sides)
- 5 Burpees
- 20 Lateral Knee Jumps (alternating sides)
2-minute Cool Down
- 1 minute of Walking
- 30 seconds of Windmills
- 30 seconds of Toe Touches