Scheduling in exercise in an already busy life can be tough. You already know how importance exercise is to your energy, long-term health and for looking good, but with so many other pressing commitments, it can be hard to put away more time for the gym. By optimizing your workout you can get more benefits without spending more time.
Here are seven ways to take your improve your workout:
1) Get a Workout Partner
Find a friend who has a similar workout schedule that you can go with to the gym. Your workout partner can motivate you to maximize your gym time and keep you committed until the end if you start to feel lazy. Going alone to the gym makes it far easier to give up early and not get the benefits you came for.
A workout partner can also provide some social interaction to make your trip to the gym more interesting. Going by yourself can be really boring, so bringing a friend can make things more fun. Just make sure you are both focused on the workout so that you don’t end up wasting all your time in conversation.
2) Drink Plenty of Water
Don’t use the water fountain at the gym and bring a big water bottle you can carry around between exercises. Drinking fountains are horribly inefficient and the most you will probably get is a few sips at a time.
Although you should be drinking throughout the day, chances are you don’t have the maximum amount of water content for physical exertion. I usually refill my half liter bottle three to four times when I workout. Not only does the water replace any water from perspiration, but it will give you the amount of water content you need for peak activity.
3) Focus on Each Repetition
Arnold Schwarzenegger once pointed out that you should be focusing on the contraction of your muscles when you are lifting weights. Whether it is the benchpress or a sit up, you should be aware of each repetition you make. If you aren’t paying attention, you can easily lose form and diminish the benefit of the workout.
This effect with sit-ups is amazing. When you aren’t focusing on your abdominal muscles, it can be easy to swing very slightly with your arms and back, completely removing any benefits. I can frequently cut in half the number of sit ups I need to do if I focus on contracting my abdominal muscles to get the same intensity of a workout.
4) Push Yourself
Once you’ve established a routine for going to the gym, start pushing yourself harder. Pushing too hard early on might turn you off of exercising entirely, but if you aren’t pushing hard in each workout you are missing most of the benefits of going. The 80/20 rule really does apply here in that last twenty percent of exertion results in eighty percent of your improvement.
Even if you aren’t training for a marathon or trying to be the next Mr. Olympia, pushing yourself allows you to expand your levels of physical energy for daily life. You wouldn’t expect a promotion without working harder at your job, so why do you think that taking a nap on the exercise bike is going to help?
5) Plan Your Workout in Advance
You should have a clear idea of what you are going to do at the gym before you get there. Are you going to run? Lift weights? Ride an exercise machine? You should know how long you plan to do each exercise and how much.
Planning your workout has two distinct advantages. Firstly, it keeps you committed to your exercise. A solid plan will ensure that you don’t later decide to opt out of the exercises you need to do. Whenever I go into the gym without a plan I end up skipping workouts I like to do less and stick with the easier ones.
Planning also saves you time trying to decide what to do. If you go in without a plan after each workout you will stare around you wondering what to do next. Knowing what to do in advance allows you to focus more on actually exercising.
6) Don’t Be Idle
Plan out how much rest you are going to have in advance. Otherwise you may end up wasting a fair bit of time walking around the gym, reading the magazines or watching the television. Rest is important to a workout, but you should have a rough idea of how much time you need in advance to prevent wasted time. Reducing idle time has allowed me to increase the amount of workouts I do, often as much as 50%.
7) Optimize Your Workout For Your Goals
Everyone has different fitness goals. Some people want endurance, others strength, some to slim down and others to bulk up. Determine what your goals are with your exercise program and spend more time focusing on those that will contribute to those goals.
No matter what you choose it is a good idea to spend a little time on aerobic activity, weights and core strength. Optimize the rest of your time to emphasize the kind of workout that will help you reach your goals.
Exercise is essential for energy and health. But, not all workouts were created equal. A more efficient workout means less wasted time and more time to do the things you really want to do.