15 Ways to Get More Out of Your Gym Time
Whether you’re a first-time gym-goer or a dedicated gym rat, chances are there are a few ways you can make your gym time even more effective and efficient. Ready to take your workouts to the next level?
Here are 15 tips to help you make the most of your gym time.
Eat Something Before
Fueling your body is key to your performance when you work out, so don’t skimp when it comes to your pre-workout snack. If you’re feeling low-energy and famished, then you need a mix of simple carbs and a little bit of protein that will give you energy without weighing you down. Try one of our favorite pre-workout snack combinations. And don’t forget to fill up your water bottle before you hit the gym so you stay hydrated throughout your workout.
Start With Something You Like
After you’re warmed up, start your gym routine with the part that gets you most jazzed up. Love doing crunches? Hit the mat before you hit the machines. Love to dance? Take a group class before you follow up with yoga or weights. It’ll motivate you and put you in a good mood for the tasks ahead.
Obviously, avoiding peak times at the gym can get you in and out faster. But you should also take note of more surprising days and times when the crowds are sparse; at my gym, it’s often Thursday nights. But if you go at lunch, here are tips for getting in and out quickly.
Burn More Calories
You’ve already spent the time packing your gym bag and making your way to the gym, so now’s the time to put in the work. Maximize your calorie-burning potential by incorporating high-intensity interval training into your cardio routine, and learn some multitasking moves that work several muscle sets at a time. These calorie-busting exercises will ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Share a Trainer With a Friend
Having a trainer can be an efficient way to fit in a workout, since he or she will keep you focused and on task. If hiring your own personal trainer seems too pricey, split a session or more with a few friends. Many trainers will offer special small-group rates, since they’d rather train a group of people than no one at all.
Spy on a Class Before You Try It
Don’t waste your time in a class that’s not for you. Before you try a new group exercise class, stop by the studio a week prior. About 10 minutes into the class, position yourself outside the door and observe five to 10 minutes of the action, enough to get a sense of whether or not you’d like it.
Save the Chat
Your time is valuable, so don’t use your workout as your social hour. While it can be fun to bring a workout buddy with you to the gym, don’t fall into the gossip trap; save it for your postgym coffee break, and focus on your workout while you’re at the gym.
Get Competitive on the Cardio
On the treadmill, the bike, or the elliptical, look for someone near you who is clearly working hard, and try to run a little faster or stay on the machine a little longer than that unsuspecting gym-goer. Just be sure you don’t push yourself past your limits or overtly annoy your neighbor!
Break Down Your Sets
When faced with a set of push-ups, crunches, or strength-training moves, break the big set down into smaller sets. If doing 20 push-ups seems impossible, count them out in four sets of five. The smaller sets seem easier to conquer both mentally and physically.
Make It Short and Sweet
Who has time to spend hours at the gym? Get the same results in a shorter amount of time by increasing intensity. High-intensity intervals will burn fat faster than trudging away at the same rate will, and supersets combine the benefits of cardio with your strength-training routine. Check out more intense cardio workouts that help you cut time at the gym.
Stretch Between Strength-Training Sets
You can pass the resting time between weight-training sets by stretching those tired muscles. You can stretch muscles you’ve already worked or do complementary stretches for muscles you’re working — so if you’re working your back, stretch your chest.
Combine Two Workouts
You’re devoted to your favorite evening strength-training class, but your gym time doesn’t have to end when class gets out. Spend a few more minutes jogging on the treadmill or cooling down with your own yoga sequence (try this total-body yoga sequence) to make the most of your workout.
Showing your muscles some love will help you stay flexible and stick with your routine by preventing injury. And since there’s always a supply of foam rollers at your gym, you can massage your muscles easily while you’re there. Learn a few basic foam rolling massage techniques here.
Get in and Out of the Locker Room
The locker room can be a time-wasting zone if you’re not prepared. After all, wrangling with your clothes and jockeying for a place in the shower line can be time-consuming. All you need are a few strategies to make your time in the locker room minimal. If you’re going during lunch, for example, wear work clothes that you can change out of easily, and fill your water bottle up before you go to the gym. Here are more ideas for getting in and out of the locker room fast.
Finish at Least Three Hours Before Bed
To make sure you’re well rested for your next workout, be sure to wind down your physical activity at least three hours before your bedtime, since it can take that long for your body to cool down and your heart rate to slow.