Before anything else, I want to say two things. It isn’t necessary that your workouts should extend to two hours or so. You can gain considerable muscle mass by doing shorter 45 minute workouts as well. And, the second thing is that you can always find spare 45 minutes in a twenty four hour day to fit in these workouts. Five days a week will do.
Coming to the main topic, it is often seen that people waste a lot of time in the gym on useless things, which leads to workouts extending to two hours or more. Not only such workouts aren’t good in terms of efficiency, they are lacking in effectiveness as well. This is because working out over long duration of time usually leads to loss of focus and intensity which should be some of the main components of any training regime.
You should definitely keep your phones and toys away from the gym. Also, gym is not a place for socializing, especially when you are working out. Get in and just focus on lifting heavy and smart. Here are five less than obvious ways, you are wasting your time in the gym.
Cardio warm-ups are waste of time
Unless you are looking to lose weight, the treadmill isn’t the ideal equipment for you. Now, tell me – how is walking or running on the treadmill going to help you lift big? In all probability, after spending fifteen minutes on the treadmill, you will have to do warm-up sets of the exercise, you are going to do to prepare your muscles for the workout. The only good thing about the treadmill routine is that it can raise your core temperature, but so can dozens of other exercises. Another way in which cardio warm-up routines hamper your workout is that more than often people lose too much energy doing cardio and it can adversely affect the amount of weight they can lift. So, won’t it be better, if you cut this time wasting routines from your workout session and get to real movements that will prepare your muscles for the workout.
Doing bodyweight exercises that correspond to the body parts you are going to train is the best warm-up possible. If you are going to do a chest workout, get on the floor and do low rep pushups. In case, it is a leg day, you can do some body squats, and single leg deadlift. Another option is to do couple of reps of the same exercise. For example, you can do bench press with barbell without weights before starting loading it up and lifting big.
Are you super-setting?
If no, then you definitely should. The superset training concept can bring in lot of benefits. Least of all is working your muscles to complete failure. Usually, the supersets are used for pushing a muscle to failure by doing an isolation move after a compound exercise for the same body part. For example, you can do dumbbell flyes immediately after doing a bench press or dumbbell chest press. Also, doing so will mean, you will have one less exercise to do later in the workout.
However, another and better way of using supersets in your workout is by doing upper and lower body strength work together. You can cut your rest time into half, which can help you burn more calories. And, you shouldn’t have any problem in popping some squats after a set of loaded pull-ups or in doing deadlifts after weighted dips. Another great combo is overhead pressing and squats or deadlifts.
By smartly incorporating the principles of supersets in your workout, you can effectively do two workouts in time period of one. Also, you can use it to increase stress on your central nervous system, which will stimulate bigger muscle gains.
Rest is not to cool down
Usually, the rest period between sets should not exceed one minute. In case, you are lifting very heavy with five repetitions per set, you can extend the rest period to two and half minutes. Anything more than that is cool down. You have to keep a close eye on your rest period, if you want to train at high intensity. The long rest periods can lead to loss in focus and concentration. To accumulate metabolic stress, you have to train on incomplete rest.
With distractions such as smartphones and TVs, people can easily lose focus. A minute break can easily turn into five minutes and even after a lapse of half hour, you would be doing the same exercise. One effective solution is to wear a sports watch. You don’t have to keep track of your rest to exact seconds, but you need to keep an eye on your rest period.
Also, even during a rest period, avoid sitting or standing at a single place. Move around and stretch the muscles you have trained. This would improve the blood flow to the muscles, which in turn will improve nutrients supply to the muscles and flushing of waste from them. Also, remain mentally focused. Imagine the way your muscles will move while doing the particular exercise.
Several exercise variations
Although I agree that you have to hit your muscles with different exercises to achieve complete failure, but sometimes variations of the exercise are done for the sake of variety. For example, what is the use of doing smith machine shrugs and dumbbell shrugs after doing barbell shrugs? If you do the barbell shrugs with right intensity and heavy weight in the first place, you won’t need to do any other variation to achieve complete failure. And, instead of doing the same exercise with different equipment, do other exercise that will work the same muscle. In case of above mentioned example, the better option would be to do bent-over lateral raises.
Pick one or two single joint exercises for a particular muscle group and do it as hard as you can. Go heavy for few sets to create stress overload because you won’t have the right intensity while doing the set number – eight or nine of the same exercise.
If you feel you haven’t worked the muscles sufficiently hard or feel it is lagging behind, you can work it again in a week. For the second workout, you would be brimming with energy and can hit the muscles hard once again. It’s better than dragging your feet in a same workout and adding pointless exercise to the routine.
Training at peak hours
Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can workout at 10 o’clock in the morning or at 9 in the night. People have regular jobs and they have to squeeze a workout in small window of time that their busy schedule allows.
However, it is also true that it is difficult to get a high intensity and time efficient workout when there is a line for every bench and machine. It is nearly impossible to have a short and quality workout when you are waiting your turn with four guys at the pec-deck machine. So, if your daily schedule allows the flexibility of picking your own gym time, try to train early morning, the late morning, afternoon or late in the evening. Believe me, it is a wonderful experience to workout in the gym when there is no crowd and cacophony of noises.