How to Make Your Training More Efficient

Time for a pop quiz!!!

What percentage of people wish they more time? A recent article I read mentioned that up to 80% of people wished they had more time.

Does that surprise you? Would you be included in the 80%?

If most people wish they had more time…

And most have goals to be leaner, stronger and healthy…

Than it would make sense to find ways to be as efficient a possible with the little time we have when it comes to training.

With that in mind here are 10 Ways to Make Your Training More Efficient.

1. Put Yourself on the Clock – Are you aware of how long regular tasks take you to do? For example, how long would it take you to unload the dishwasher? If you’re not aware then set the timer on the microwave for 4 minutes and see what happens.

Typically we think things take longer than they really do. And unless we’re on the clock and aware of diminishing time we can adopt a casual pace and stretch things out. Imagine packing for a flight that leaves in 2.5 hours and you need to leave for the airport ASAP. You might be able to pack in 5 minutes and be out the door.

With your training set a count down timer at the start of your workout. If you have 20 minutes set it for 18 and hit ‘start’. Change your settings so your screen doesn’t go blank and you’ll be able to see the time counting down as you train. You’ll have a greater sense of urgency and make the most of your limited time.

2. Get Off Line – Make sure to turn your data and notifications off while you train. Set your phone to silent mode. We’re not talking about doing this for hours on end but just enough time for you to train and not be interrupted.

Consider your own routines…when you have to get something done, how distracted do you become? Does an incoming text message cause you to reach for your phone? Does the ping from FB have you checking to see who it is? After a recent social media post are you checking likes and comments?

Even if this isn’t you, it’s just a god habit to turn off anything that could be trying to get your attention.

3. Make it an Appointment – If you find it hard to make the time for exercise than maybe you should consider making it an appointment in your schedule.

Think about the other things for which you make appointments. How often are dentists appointments not completed? How often do you get interrupted during a doctor’s check up? How many job interviews aren’t completed because something else got in the way?

If you find it difficult to make the time and then complete a training session than maybe put it as a calendar and make it a regular appointment.

4. First Things First – Do you find you’re busier earlier or later in the day? Or do more surprises await you upon rising or come on during the day?

Most people find they get busier as the day goes on. Emails and calls come in. Meetings run long. Other departments or team members need a moment of your time.

There are lots of ways the day can fill up. Not only does training first thing in the morning lessen the change of a distraction derailing your training but you will be more effective with any cerebral or academic tasks that follow.

5. Make Sure You’re Fueled – Have you ever had a day where you haven’t had enough to eat? But you want to stay on top of your training and so you keep your appointment. You may feel weak and lacking motivation. It’s hard to bring the intensity. Rest breaks can get dragged out. And in the end it takes you a fair bit longer to get through the workout.

One way to ensure you can go hard and need minimal rest breaks is to be properly fueled and hydrated. When time is that important make sure you don’t compromise intensity due to a lack of fuel or hydration.

6. Pair Opposing Movements – What gets taxed when you deadlift? You may feel it in the glutes, hamstrings and through the posterior chain. What doesn’t feel it too much on a deadlift? Probably the chest, shoulders and triceps. So when you think of what gets worked and what doesn’t with an exercise this provides clues as to what you can pair for maximal intensity.

With the example above it may make sense to pair a deadlift with a chest press. With this pairing a couple of advantages are presented. The first is that you can train each movement more intensely. The other is that you’ll need less rest to complete all your sets.

Here’s an example to see how it could work.

Option #1

Deadlift 3 reps @ 90% 1 RM

Rest 60 s

Bench 3 reps @ 90% 1 RM (then repeat sequence 3 more times)

Option #2

Deadlift 3 reps @ 90% 1 RM

Rest 60 s

Glute Ham Raise 6 reps @ bodyweight (then repeat sequence 3 more times)

When the exercises don’t target the same muscles and movements you can train more intensely withe less rest. When the movements are too similar you’ll have to dial back the intensity, increase the rest or both.

7. Prioritize Weak Links – This one is obvious but gets overlooked. If a chain has a weak link that is where it will break. And the integrity of the chain is limited by the weakest link.

Imagine each of your lifts or movements represents a link in the chain. Your bench is the best in the gym. And you can do as many pull ups as your age in years. But your squats are limited to 135 lbs for a few reps because of some knee pain. Unless that gets addressed it’s harder to see overall improvement.

So how do you figure out your weak links?

The first place to start is movements that hurt. Next, where do you lack range of motion? Can you touch your toes? Can you reach overhead? Can each arm touch the opposite shoulder blade?

If this still isn’t clear send us an email and we’ll figure it out for you.

8. Go During Non-Peak Times – Do you shop at Costco? If so, have ever gone Saturday over the noon hour? It’s insane in there. The first clue should be after circling the parking lot for 15 minutes then hunting high and low for a cart. We would have been better off to go for lunch and maybe come back later, if at all.

Do you do the same thing at the gym? Do you go when it’s busiest? Do you find yourself waiting to use equipment? Do your trips to the fountain and rest breaks between sets become opportunities to catch up with your gym friends?

If this sounds like you the best time to go to the gym, or Costco, would be when no else does. Most gyms are busiest when people aren’t in school or at work. Once school lets out or the work day ends things can get busy in an instant. Try going at an off-peak time so you get more training done with fewer line-ups for equipment or interruptions.

9. Cut Your Time in Half – Remember the example above where I suggested setting the timer on the microwave for 4 minutes and then seeing how far you could get with unloading the dishwasher? Well the next thing to do would be to repeat the experiment but now set the timer for only 2 minutes. See how close you can get to getting the job done.

Two things will happen. One you may actually be able to get the dishwater unloaded in under 2 minutes. Not to brag but my record is 1 minute 47 seconds. The second thing that will happen is that even if the 2 minute timer goes off and you haven’t completed the task you’ll have an incredible pace going. And once you have this quick pace working for you it’s easier to keep going. This will allow you to complete the job in the least amount of time possible.

Do the same thing with your workout. If you believe a workout will take 60 minutes cut this in half. Set a timer for 30 minutes and get started. See what you can get accomplished in half the time. If you get everything done in 30 minutes this tells me you were really slacking the times when you took 60 minutes. And as with the dishwasher example, if you don’t complete the training session in 30 minutes keep going and see how close to 30 minutes you can finish. This can become a challenge to beat your time for your next workout.

10. Don’t Forget Body Weight Training – Sometimes training can take a while because we think we need special equipment including barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and more. There can be time to go and get each piece of equipment. There is time to add and remove plates from the bar. As well, if equipment is in short supply we may spend precious time waiting on another to finish with a piece of equipment we need to do our workout.

Instead a great alternative can be to do bodyweight workouts. Imagine sprinting 20 meters and then walking back. This could be followed by three forward broad jumps. After four sets of these you could do some pull ups, some push ups and some get ups. Five rounds of this and you’d be done everything in under 20 minutes. And nothing is more challenging than sprinting, jumping or doing as many pull ups as you can.

Getting a great result in the gym can be enough of a challenge as it is. Make sure a shortage of time doesn’t become something that prevents you from getting the best results possible.

And of yeah, late Friday night is the best time to avoid the lines at Costco.

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