5 Keys to Efficiently Training – More Results in Less Time
Why do you go to the gym and workout? People go to gyms or health clubs for a variety of reasons. Some of them are social – particularly after being housebound with this COVID mess. But social and environmental issues aside, the number one reason for training is….results!
No matter what your fitness goals, there’s no debating that resistance training plays a significant role. It’s the most flexible, multi-purpose exercise modality of all, and will give you the most efficient results. Period.
Think of your time, money, energy and sweat spent training as an investment. That said, every investor wants the highest ROI (return on investment) possible. In short, the question is “How do I get the best result while spending the least amount of time?” Time, or lack thereof, is one obstacle in getting to the gym that stymies people, when it doesn’t have to.
We’ve all heard it, “I’m really busy right now, but when things slow down, I’m going to start working out again (next week, next month or whatever)”. For the record: I estimate that probably 95% of people who work out can achieve their goals by training no more than 20-30 minutes, three times per week, if they train efficiently. Obviously, if you’re a competitive bodybuilder, or high-level competitive athlete, you’ll need more, but aside from that, three sessions performed consistently every week, with maximum efficiency, can get the job done.
And no, that does not mean using killer, joint-crushing poundages to increase training intensity.
But, let’s talk about what it does mean. Let me warn you: You might have seen some of this material before, but be open and remember that there’s a huge difference between knowledge and application! Think about the content below, and do a quick inventory of your training, your exercise execution, and where your head is at. If you do, good things will happen!
Ready! Here are 5 ways to get more efficient results:
1. Your time spent working out, should be time spent working out.
Stated plainly, to maximize efficiency, your focus on your training must be complete. That means, minimal conversations or interruptions (either in person or on the phone / texting). Sounds a little hardcore maybe in this day and age, but interruptions tend to have a way of taking a life of their own, and the next thing you know, 5 or 10 or 15 minutes have passed and your training stimulus has gone to zero. You’re on a mission to get results. Don’t let anything deter you!
2. Rest periods between sets should be minimal.
(No longer than 60 seconds and typically less).
There may be some confusion as to how long it takes muscles to recover between sets. Recovery is based on the number of repetitions, the resistance used and the number of muscle fibers recruited (along with the metabolic status of the athlete). Lactic acid, which causes the immediate burn during an intense set, is actually cleared from the muscle within seconds after the set is over, but other muscle cellular factors can take longer. Again, unless you’re training to be a competitive powerlifter who is handling near-max weights, 60 seconds rest will give you time to recover enough to have a very intense, stimulating, result-producing next set.
3. Your focus on form and contraction must be complete.
Efficient training biomechanics directs the most effective stimulus to your muscles when form is controlled, and when end range, or peak contractions, are taken to the “I think I’m going to get cramp” level. Such optimal execution will cause fatigue to come on more rapidly, so the amount of weight used and or rep ranges will likely need to be adjusted. Not to worry, training (result producing) stimulus to the muscle will be enhanced.
4. Train with significant effort and exertion (8+/10).
Notice I suggest “significant” rather than “maximal” when it comes to effort. Training with maximal effort and exertion is usually not necessary to achieve sustained results, nor is it advisable to stress connective tissue so severely on a consistent basis. Train hard for sure, but you don’t have to feel like you are busting your gut every single rep of every single set.
5. Keep it fresh.
Force yourself to change your program every six weeks as a matter of course. Get comfortable being uncomfortable, and avoid stagnation. Vary up body part pairings and order of execution. Vary use of modalities, exchanging machines for barbells, or barbells for dumbbell, dumbbells for bands or bodyweight exercises or functional movements. New and different stimuli for both your body and mind will help you focus more on form and movements and keep things interesting. As soon as you get too comfortable you become vulnerable to boredom, then your mind wanders. Next thing you know, you’re checking text messages or Instagram and there goes your workout efficiency.
Enjoy your workouts, enjoy the effort, and most of all, enjoy the results!
About the Author:
Dr. Tom Deters is the former Editor in chief and publisher of Muscle & Fitness magazine and publisher of both FLEX and Men’s Fitness magazines. He has published hundreds of articles and given hundreds of seminars on training, performance nutrition, diet strategy and bodyfat control.