Have you ever gone to the gym with the intention of getting a quick workout in and suddenly you’ve been there for well over an hour? Life as an adult requires juggling careers, responsibilities, relationships and families. With only so many hours in a day, it’s easy to let our health slip through the cracks and a “lack of time” is often the most cited reason why people don’t make their health a priority.
Little distractions in the gym can add up to a big time loss. With a little foresight and planning, here are six ways that you can streamline your process without wasting precious minutes.
1. Prepare your playlist ahead of time
A lot of time can be wasted trying to find the perfect song. Is it a Britney day? Maybe you need to work out some stress with a harder genre. Have a couple playlists ready to go before you even get into the gym. That way you can easily pick one and be done.
2. Use your phone only for music (or not at all)
It is easy during those rest periods or even before you start to quickly check in with the abyss that is social media. Picking up your phone for a text or a quick gym selfie can quickly turn into many wasted minutes of workout time. Not only will you extend your workout, you may also miss out on the benefits of the exercise itself if you rest for too long.
To help avoid phone distractions, try putting your phone in airplane mode or leave it altogether. Not having any music may help you concentrate on the workout and allow you to complete it more efficiently.
3. Keep your headphones in
If you frequent the same gym, people will get to know you. That means they may want to stop and chat. If you are pressed for time, you may not have the luxury to discuss the details of your day, week or month with another person.
Keep your headphones in even if you aren’t listening to music because it is a signal to other people that you can’t talk right now. As soon as those headphones come off, it’s a sign that your attention is available to be grabbed by someone else.
4. Plan your workout ahead of time
There’s nothing worse than showing up at the gym without a plan. “Hmmmm, what should I do today? Maybe I’ll start with a little treadmill action? Ok, this is good. Now what do I want to work today? Back? Legs? Arms? Maybe I’ll just do it all!” Before you know it, you’ve either been at the gym for two hours or you’ve done a really sloppy routine that may not have benefitted you at all.
Always plan out what you want to do at the gym to maximize your time there. Know your exercises, reps, sets and rests. If it is a crowded gym, try and do similar exercises together. For instance, if you are working with dumbbells for part of your routine, do all those exercises together while you are in one place. Another option is to set up a station for yourself before you start so you don’t have to rush around looking for equipment.
5. Exercise solo
As helpful as exercise buddies can be, they can also result in a huge time suck if you’re not careful. It’s easy to get carried away talking about everything under the sun instead of focusing on the exercises at hand, which, while awesome, will likely lengthen your workout time or make it less efficient.
On days when you don’t have time to kill, make sure to do your workout solo. This way you will be able to fully concentrate on each exercise and be less likely to be distracted.
6. Time your rest periods
You may know the number of reps or sets of an exercise to do, but do you know how much rest you should take in between? According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, specific fitness goals are associated with specific periods of rest. Endurance and stabilization exercises, for example, require rest breaks of 0-90 seconds, while exercises geared towards maximal strength gains require longer rests of 3-5 minutes.
Rather than finishing a set and sitting around until you feel ready again, be structured in your rests. Determine how long you should rest and set a timer so that you are maximizing your workout potential and also not wasting time between exercises.
What tips do you have for making your gym time more efficient?