Getting the most from a workout makes sense. After all, it's hard enough to get the motivation to go to the gym, so you might as well make it count. Fitness experts are saying that a great workout may not take as much time as we might think, if we're really focused and stop wasting time.
"Efficiency makes the difference," said Robert Kingham, Director of Dynamic Dimensions. "Some people can come into the gym and stay for an hour every day and not achieve their fitness goal. Other people are out in 30 or 45 minutes, and they're on target."
Since we all have people we want to see and places we want to go, getting a good workout in a reasonable amount of time sounds great. Kingham offered these tips:
Workout, don't socialize. Save the visiting for after your workout. If you get distracted by a Chatty Cathy, it can slow down your momentum, heart rate and add unnecessary time to your workout. When you're in your target heart rate on a treadmill, for example, it's nearly impossible to carry on a conversation. So, if chatting is easy, increase your intensity.
Weight up. Women are especially guilty of not using enough weights to make a difference. "If you can do more than 20 repetitions, you need to increase your weight," said Kingham. Ideally, you should tire out your muscle on your last rep. It takes more time to do 40 reps with lighter weight than it does to do 10 reps with a heavier weight, and the heaver weight will reap more benefits, if done correctly.
Watch your form. Improper technique not only poses a greater risk of injury to muscles and joints, it also wastes your time. Doing a bicep curl with your knees locked could do more harm to your knees and back than good to your arms. Do bicep curls with "soft" knees, slightly bent. "We have trainers on site all the time to assist our members in using the right technique," said Kingham.
Keep moving. Taking too many breaks is a major time waster. Getting a drink of water, using the restroom, stopping to talk to a friend can add up; before you know it, 15 minutes have passed. The goal is to rest only 30 to 90 seconds between strength exercises. To maximize time, alternate a set of exercises for your ticeps with a set for triceps, for example. That allows you to shorten the rest interval in between. While one muscle group is working, the opposing group is getting active recovery.
Stand tall. Leaning on the handrails of the elliptical machine, or the stair-climber cuts your performance. It can reduce the number of calories burned by as much as 20%. Poor posture can increase risk for injury to the lower back and wrist. The rails are meant to assist with balance only. The machine is designed for the exerciser to bear their full weight during the exercise, so they can get the most benefit.
Change at home. "While we don't mind people using our dressing rooms, if you're in a hurry, it can save time to change at home," said Kingham. For people with only 30 minutes to exercise, taking 10 minutes to dress takes out a serious chunk of time. You're also less likely to get into a conversation in the dressing room if you change at home or work.