Who doesn’t want better results? It doesn’t matter whether this relates to business, finances, education, fitness or anything else. We all like to experience improvement.
But you know what’s better than improved results? Better results in less time.
Think about it.
If I told you that investing $1000 could turn into $10,000 would be impressed or interested? It depends, doesn’t it? Obvioulsly the time component makes a huge difference on whether or not this would be considered impressive. 10 days to turn one thousand into ten thousand would make any investor curious and possibly interested. However if it took 100 years to achieve the same no one would be interested.
In the same we need to consider the time component when it comes to achieving results in the gym. Better results in less time always wins. So with that in mind here are 5 ways to make your workouts more efficient and get better results in less time.
1. Skip the General Warm-up
What’s the first thing most people do when they get to the gym? The jump on a bike or walk on a treadmill. While there may be a slight increase in heart rate and circulation this does next to nothing to mobilize and activate the thoracic spine, shoulders and upper body. And while the foot may contact the belt of the treadmill there isn’t the same proprioceptive feedback gained from solid ground contact. And with a bike there is no ground contact. Add to this the lack of frontal or transverse plane motion as well as nervous system excitation and the pre-workout cardio becomes more useless. But personally my main reason to ditch the general warm-up is that is uses energy that may have allowed for more intensity, volume or speed of movement.
2. Perform Complentary Exercises
When someone new to training performs a chin up for the first time how likely are they to have sore lats the next day? Or on the other hand how many of them will have some soreness in the biceps?
The point of the previous statement is that a chin up involves both the lats and biceps. So it would make sense to train them on the same day. The lats are a larger muscle group than the biceps and perform most of the work on a chin up. The biceps contribute as well however to this lift so it would be beneficial to train them on the same day.
Look to see what other big-small muscle combinations you can find in your lifts and use the smaller muscle group as a finisher on the same day. You’ll already be warmed up from the previous exercise but will earn yourself an extra rest day when you won’t have to train this smaller muscle group again.
3. Take Bigger Bites
Over the last few years a number of individuals have shown that their programming yields the best results when in the range of 15-25 total sets. This might be 5 sets of 3, 3 sets of 8, 5 sets of 5…it doesn’t matter the combination but simply that this volume seems to work best.
In terms of being efficient think to use the fewest sets to complete your total number of sets. For example, if the goal for an exercise is 15 reps there is benefit to doing as much as you can with fewer stops between sets. From one workout to the next you can track improvement by seeing how many more reps you can achieve and how few sets this can take.
One condition on apply this rule however is that you need to use a heavy load. You can’t cheat yourself and grab a weight you know you can get 15 reps all at once. Instead select a load that you can do 4 or 5 reps with perfect form. Then see how few sets it takes you to get 15, or 25.
4. Stop Less
How many of you record the start and end time of a training session? I would say almost 99% of people show up at a gym and aren’t really aware of the total stop time during their workouts.
Why would I say this?
Because most people don’t use a stop watch to time their rest breaks. And most people don’t know the the duration of a set. And most people don’t have a specific plan in place when they show up at the gym. So without a plan they are more likely to wander looking for something to do.
Be aware of your time in the gym. Make note of when you start and end a workout. Time your sets and your rest breaks. You’ll be surprised how time flies and how much time is wasted.
5. Do the Opposite Exercise Next
Quick question…what muscles are worked when performing a deadlift?
If you said any of the muscles of the posterior chain you would be correct. This would include the hamstrings, glutes, low, mid and upper back.
Alright smarty pants here’s another question…which muscles are not worked during a deadlift?
Looking at the answer above you could include anterior chain and upper body pressing muscles. Let’s finish this off with one more question then. What exercise might be the opposite of the deadlift?
The bench press would a great example of an exercise that is not taxed during a deadlift. So after performing a deadlift as intensely as possible you might still be able to perform a bench press.
And this type of pairing of exercises allows you do more work in less time. The other nice thing is that from the time you perform on set of deadlift to another your total rest total is greater. And with more rest we can lift more intensely.
Look to incorporate these tips into your training to achieve better results in less time.