If you live a busy lifestyle, like me, finding ways to be more efficient with your home workout can be the difference between getting a strength training workout in or hoping you have time later to exercise. Sometimes, you may even have to put it off until tomorrow. This is a reality as a parent with competing priorities or for a busy professional.
The good news is there are several strategies to reduce the time it takes to strength train or complete your cardio routines.
Don’t Overdo Your Warmup
While we all want to be properly warmed up and loose before we start pushing heavyweights around, we also don’t want to waste all of our energy endlessly on the elliptical. Unless you have time for a 2.5-hour workout, you need to be precise on your warm-up and not waste precious time building muscle. There are several ways to accomplish but there are two main things you want to accomplish; getting your core body temperature and make sure your muscles are ready to work hard. You do not need to spend 15 minutes doing light cardio followed by 10 minutes of light lifting. I use a workout-specific warm-up in which I complete 3 – 4 warm-up sets for the muscles groups I am working on that day. This sufficiently increases my core body temperature as my only rest is increasing weight and making sure each muscle group gets their sets mentioned above. You can read more on exercise-specific warm-ups. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27398685/
Compound Sets And Super Sets
Compound Sets Definition – A compound set involves completing 2 exercises, or more, in a row without rest in between. However, you perform exercises with the same muscle groups. For example; bench press followed by dumbbell flyes.
Super Sets Definition – Supersets involve moving to another exercise, not of the same muscle group, after your first set. An example would be pull-ups followed by an incline dumbbell press.
Using compound sets is a great way to save time as you can follow up the first exercise for a muscle group with another, with little to no rest. You would then complete your standard rest and complete your next set. This allows you to complete additional volume back-to-back, without doing the same exercise.
Supersets are a great way to complete successive sets and are particularly useful when you are short on time to compact your sets into shorter periods of time. Supersets allow you to still complete the sets you normally would and gets some additional rest for muscle groups as part of the rest for the first muscle group is the time it takes to complete your second exercise. Albeit not complete rest since you are performing another exercise. I incorporate this method in the vast majority of my workouts, to keep them all under 45 minutes.
Review Rest Intervals
If you are not watching your rest time, and just guessing when you should start your next set, you are likely doing one of two things. first, you are resting longer than you need or you are not resting enough and not coming back strong and rested for your next set. Yes, there is a balancing act here and most research shows rest periods of one-and-a-half minutes to two minutes a sufficient rest for hypertrophy. Many bodybuilders actually use less rest than this. You also don’t need traditional powerlifters rest of 3 to 5 minutes. Make sure you are watching your rest and getting back on that next set once your body is ready.
Use A Timer
One way to help with the previous recommendation is to use a timer. You can use one like I have, larger and plugs into the wall or there are much smaller options that are magnetic and attach to a rack or any other metal device. With a timer, there is no guesswork needed on was that 1 minute or two minutes rest? Be precise on your rest and this is also another way to track progress as your ability to complete reps is significantly different after 1 minute vs. three minutes of rest. Don’t believe me, try it out, and you will see what I mean.
Add Advanced Techniques That Incorporate More Work In Less Time
This is one of the reasons there are advanced techniques. Outside of the obvious increase in muscle hypertrophy, saving time is a major contributor to many advanced techniques. I won’t describe every possible option here but here are my favorites; drop sets, MRPDS, Tri-Sets, Giant-Sets, Myo-Reps, and EDT. If you want more options to look at, check out this advanced technique document with descriptions, don’t worry, it’s free.
There are many things that can distract us and take up our precious time; phone calls, text messages, reading an article during rest periods, work e-mails, and likely other things that get in your way. It’s workout time, that other stuff can wait until you are done working out. Completing this work after you are done will not take any more time and if it is causing you to add several minutes to your workout, did you save yourself any time anyways? Put the phone away, except for jamming to some music.
Professionally Built Workouts That Are Time Specific
If working out in a specific time period is important to you, trying and guessing what workout may fit into your time constraints can be a hard thing to do. No matter what fitness level you are, you can find workouts built specifically to be done in a desired amount of time. If you are winging your workouts, you are likely wasting time thinking about what muscle groups and what exercises. Does this sound familiar, hmm…barbell squat or am I in the mood for burnout leg extensions? There goes a couple of minutes right there. If you are doing this throughout your workout, you likely just added double-digits in minutes to the time it takes to get done. Reviewing a gym workout specifically for your workout space by a certified personal trainer can go a long way to saving you time.
Renegade specializes in this area. I specifically build workouts to be completed in 45 minutes or less. Yes, I work out at home and they are built with this intention but there is no reason you can’t use these if you go to a commercial gym. but with a commercial gym, there are likely other things that get in the way of getting your workout done. I have even built several HIIT Workout options, but mine incorporate weights or HIIWT.
Workout At Non-Peak Times
Wait, this is the home gym version, you don’t have to wait to use gym equipment or stand in line for the bench or squat rack to be available like a gym membership. Stop wasting your entire day driving to the gym and waiting for exercise equipment, build a home gym with an expert today. Try out these tested techniques to save you time on your workouts and enjoy more time with your family.