Ok, so anybody who trains with me knows I’m a big fan of being efficient in workouts. My in-person and online clients all love the fact that they can get in and out of the gym so quickly.
It’s how I train too, as I don’t like spending more than an hour in the gym. I love shorter, more intense workouts where I leave with a great pump.
Here I’m going to outline 3 ways to make your workout more efficient.
1 – Listen to a podcast or audiobook
Yes, this one is not related to working out itself.
We all love music. Especially music that gets us pumped up and ready for the workout.
Whether it’s Nas, DMX, old school grime, or even dance music, music undoubtedly has a huge impact on our motivation and performance in the gym. Research has proven that.
(It’s unfortunate that the gym I currently train out of has some of the worst music known to man).
But in this busy world where we are all trying to get ahead, what about if we could improve other areas of our lives while we’re at the gym? What if, instead of listening to music, we listen to an audiobook or podcast instead?
While you’re at the gym building muscle and getting fitter, you can also be listening to a self-improvement podcast, an ebook about business, or even learning a new language. (I used to do this with Spanish. I would listen to Pimsleur while I worked out).
I haven’t worn headphones to the gym in a long time, but I’ve recently made a commitment to start listening to podcasts and ebooks again while I’m training. I first got this idea from a fantastic audiobook called ‘Life Leverage’ by Rob Moore.
Ever since listening to it, it completely changed my attitude about efficiency in the modern world.
Put on some good noise-cancelling headphones and download your favourite audiobook.
2- ‘Fillers’ in between sets
Warming up is boringggg. Trust me, I know, but it’s a necessary evil.
If you want to expedite the process, you can shorten the initial warm-up and do your mobility work in between sets of actual lifting.
For example, let’s say I’m doing a barbell squat that day.
I might do a quick pulse raiser including exercises like star jumps, bodyweight squats, inchworms, and one or two other mobility drills.
From there, I’ll move to the squat rack and begin warming up with the bar. After a couple of sets with light weight on the bar, I might feel that my hips are still a little tight.
So I may do another hip mobility drill such as a shinbox with extension, which is brilliant for hip internal and external rotation, the hip flexors, and also the glutes.
You can do this in between warm-up sets of the squat as much as you need to. Just make sure you’re not tiring yourself out for the actual lift. Keep these mobility drills low reps.
Don’t hold static stretches for minutes at a time either. To be on the safe side, hold them for about 20 seconds. Holding static stretches for too long can interfere with strength and power production.
You can do the same with ‘stability’ movements like planks and dead bugs. These movements help activate the muscles necessary for safe and ‘solid’ form.
I particularly like dead bugs, which are not only an excellent core trainer in and of themselves, but help to build good movement patterns and stability. Lifting a heavy weight without stability is a injury waiting to happen.
I might bang out 2-3 sets of dead bugs while warming up for a big lower body lift.
3 – Superset your accessory work
The heavier, more complex stuff like squats, deadlifts, heavy split squats, and power movements like trap bar jumps etc, do require a bit more rest in between sets for your muscles and nervous system to recover.
From a purely safety perspective, you don’t want to go into a heavy barbell squat with a tired lower back or abs. Ideally, you feel fresh and everything is switched on so you can perform the exercise safely.
However, once you move further in to the workout, try to start grouping exercises into small mini-circuits to save time. This is a great timesaver, and will also push your heart rate up a little for a cardio/fat loss effect.
For example, let’s say I had the following planned at the end of an upper body workout:
5) DB lateral raise – 3 x 12
6) Tricep pushdown – 3 x 15
7) DB Farmers walk – 3 x 2 laps (15 meters each way)
I would simply group the above in to one mini-circuit to save time, like so:
- 5a) DB lateral raise – 3 x 12
- 5b) Tricep pushdown – 3 x 15
- 5c) DB Farmers walk – 3 x 2 laps (15 meters each way)
None of these exercises really require much recovery (maybe apart from the Farmers walk if done heavy enough, in which case you would rest for the next big ‘mini-set’ anyway).
Plus, none of them would really interfere with each other, thus making them perfect for grouping together. (There definitely is a place for supersetting exercises that hit the same muscle group though).
Being in the gym is nice, but being outside is even nicer! So use these tips to be as efficient as possible so you can enjoy the great outdoors (see my article here for my favourite outdoor workouts).
Oh, and guys, if you haven’t already, please check out my ‘Staying Lean At 30’ ebook for free.
Hit me up with any questions or enquiries