When working with new clients, it seems that one of the toughest barriers to working out is actually having the time to workout. There is a perception that a workout needs to be a full hour or more of a completely sweaty, leave-you-so-sore-you-can’t-sit-down time.
That is just not true. While fitness is important to your overall health to increase blood flow, boost metabolism, stave off osteoporosis, reduce risks of stroke and heart disease, it is not the whole picture. A workout routine is going to account for 10-15% of your daily calories, while what you eat is about 80% of that. So, while fitness is vital for the health benefits, it is not the only, or even the biggest, puzzle piece when it comes to losing weight.
Instead of skipping a workout all together because of a lack of time, use these 10 ways to make your gym time quick and efficient to get in, get it done, and get out. These tips also apply whether you are at a physical gym space, or if you are working out at home.
1. Have a plan when you walk in. Instead of wasting time deciding what workout you want to do when you get to the gym, have a plan ready to go. You will be so much more efficient when you know exactly what you have to do. I recommend following a more comprehensive, long term routine, like the 5 Week Health & Fitness Plan, rather than just picking random workouts from day to day.
2. Create a Pinterest board of workouts that take different times. There is a ton of free inspiration on Pinterest for workouts that take anywhere from over an hour, to 7 minutes. If all you have is 7 minutes, you can still get the benefits of a workout in! Pin a few workouts that vary your locations too so you have options whether you are in the gym, at home, or have limited equipment (think traveling).
3. Do not skip a warm up or cool down. I know you are strapped for time, but you need to build in at least 10 minutes for a warm up and cool down. A warm up will help you prevent injuries as you slowly increase your heart rate while a cool down will help you stave off soreness and dizziness. Get your free warm up and cool down guide here for suggestions on what to do.
4. Have your clothes ready to go. Sometimes the biggest mental block to working out, apart from the time barrier, is physically putting on your workout clothes. For whatever situation you are in, have your clothes ready to go. Whether that means you change your shirt, pants, etc. as soon as you get home so you are already dressed by the time you get to your workout time (for me, when Zoey goes to bed), or you lay out your workout clothes before you go to bed for a morning workout, or you pack them with you when you head to work so you can hit the gym on your way home, you are ready.
Also, be sure you have workout clothes you actually feel good in. Wearing items you enjoy and are confident in can change your whole demeanor about working out (especially in public).
5. Involve the family. There are days when having a solo workout are just not going to happen, but that does not mean you have to entirely skip your intentional movement. Involve your kids (and spouse) in family movement in a few ways:
- Have a dance party where everyone gets to pick 1-2 of their favorite songs. You have to dance to everyone’s songs!
- Go for a family walk or bike ride. You do not have to go far, the idea is to intentionally move!
- Set up some obstacle courses in the backyard or other open space.
- Have a few relay races or kid games. Red light, green light. Simon says. Follow the leader. Tag. They all get you up and moving.
- Do a 500 rep body weight workout while your kids play at the park.
6. Have the equipment you need at home. You might not want to afford a gym membership, or you might not have the time to actually use it if you did. You can create a mini-gym in your home with just a few pieces of equipment.
For instance, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I adore my Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells. Both Rob and I can use them since they go from 5 pounds all the way to 55 pounds. Those, plus a mat, a weight bar, and an $80 treadmill we found on Facebook Marketplace make for an excellent space to get a workout in. Much less expensive than a gym membership for both of us!
7. Do not wait for machines in use. You know what I am talking about. You want to use the hamstring machine, but some teenager is sitting on it checking his Snapchat. Rather than waiting for the person to move, go on to something else. Whether you just go to the next move in your workout, or you find a replacement for that machine that does the same thing, you will not be wasting time waiting on someone else.
8. Skip the steady state cardio. You have limited gym time, then you do not have time for steady state cardio. The amount of time you would need on the elliptical, treadmill, or bike to burn a good amount of calories, is more than you probably have. Opt instead for a plyometric workout or full body strength workout. If you are just feeling like using a cardio machine that day, choose an interval workout to burn more in less time.
9. Pack a portable, or easy to grab, post workout snack. Refueling your body properly is vital to reaping the benefits of your workout rewards. Pack a snack that does not need refrigeration, or have it ready to go. Choose a snack that contains proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and fats. A few options:
- Apple and nut butter
- Trail mix and banana
- Hummus and whole grain crackers
- Almonds and piece of fruit
10. Have your entertainment ready to go. Instead of walking into the gym, or into your workout space, and playing on your phone to download a podcast, find a show, or create the perfect playlist, have your entertainment ready to go. Know what you want to spend your gym time listening to, or watching, so all you have to do is hit the app and press play.
If you are still strapped for time, and workout during work hours, take a look at this info graphic for more tips on how to make intentional movement and a workout flow into your day.
Try a few of these tips this week and see how much time you are able to cut down on your workouts. I am sure you will see an improvement!
What are your favorite ways to make your gym time quick and efficient?1