5 Ways to Maximize Your Time at the Gym

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As a personal trainer, a common excuse I hear from people for not exercising is that they don’t have enough time. It sometimes seems there aren’t enough hours in the day, with schedules divided between family time, work and other activities. For those with not enough hours in the day, these five tips will help you maximize your time at the gym.

5. Plan Ahead and Focus

Exercise is good in moderation, but too much is actually harmful to your body.Preparation leads to success in all aspects of life and exercise is no different. It takes little effort and minimal time to pack your gym bag the night before with whatever is needed for the next day — clothing, post-workout meal, snacks, etc. Taking the time to plan ahead will prevent a last-minute shuffle out the door in the morning, keep your eating on track and guarantee you won’t waste time that could have been spent at the gym. Once at the gym place your cell phone or Blackberry in a locker so you’re not distracted from the reason you’re there — to work out. Focus is an important part of maximizing your time and time spent texting or checking emails is wasted time. There’s plenty of time to text later, so focus on your fitness goal. And yes, iPods are allowed.


4. Try Supersets

Supersets are a good way to supercharge your workout.

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A superset is a technique in which you train one or two muscles, back to back, with no rest. You have the option of a single muscle superset or opposing muscle superset. For example: rope bicep curls followed by dumbbell hammer curl and cable chest press followed by narrow grip lat pull downs. (You can do a quick search on the Internet for those specific exercises and get full descriptions, along with photos, on how to incorporate them into your routine. Or, ask a personal trainer for help.) Vary your workouts by alternating between techniques to enable your muscles time to recover as well as to keep them from adapting to the same routine. Supersets not only maximize your time at the gym they also help with muscle development and endurance. Best of all, supersets are the perfect answer for anyone struggling through a frustrating exercise plateau.


3. Take a Dynamic Rest

Instead of sitting and resting after a set of lifts, hop on an exercise bike for a few minutes.

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Unless you’re preparing for a bodybuilding show and need to pack on muscle and bulk, it isn’t necessary to sit and rest between weightlifting sets. In dynamic rest, you engage in some activity instead of resting between sets. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways; utilizing a cardio machine, briskly walking around the gym, using a step or stool, jumping jacks or jumping rope, just to name a few. Be creative and develop your own dynamic rest go-to exercises. The point is to keep your heart rate elevated. Dynamic rest increases your fitness level and endurance, burns extra calories and improves heart health.


2. Use Circuit Training

Spend some time on a cardio machine after your circuit training.

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Circuit training is a grouping of exercises performed one right after another with no rest until completed. Circuit training keeps your heart rate elevated to reap the cardio benefits while strengthening your muscles by lifting weights. Boredom will never become a problem with circuit training because by changing the exercises and manipulating sets, reps or time at each exercise, the variety is endless and always challenging. If you like a challenge and want to increase your fitness level and burn even more calories, add a cardio element in between each set. End each session with some time on the stairmill, elliptical or an elevated walk on the treadmill.

1. Try Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to get a better workout in less time.

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Talk to any athlete and they’ll tell you that interval training is part of their weekly routine. Interval training alternates high-intensity movement with low-intensity movement and forces the body to exert more energy than a walk on the treadmill. Interval training pushes the body past the aerobic threshold and then back again, which improves speed, strength and endurance. Interval training also increases fitness level and supercharges your metabolism for greater fat loss, according to the American College of Sport Medicine. The best benefit for those pushed for time — you can get a more effective workout in less time. Incorporate interval training into your regimen twice a week for 30 minutes each session. You don’t even need to go to the gym; you can start right outside your door. Walk at a brisk pace for 3 minutes followed by a 1-minute run. As your fitness level increases, turn the walk into a jog and the run into a sprint. If you’re using a treadmill, walk on the treadmill at 5 mph for 3 minutes followed by running at 6 mph for 1 minute. As your fitness level increases, spend a little more time at the high-intensity level. Add a 30-minute circuit- or strength-training session in before the interval training for a heart-pounding, fat-burning and fun workout.

Written by

Diana Sadtler holds a BS in Sport and Exercise Science and is a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM. In addition to training her clients, she writes a monthly column for SUSIE Magazine.