The following is a guest post from David Emond, a 2nd year Kin student from uWaterloo. In his article, David offers 8 tips to make your workouts more efficient. Enjoy! – Austin
Quality over quantity – this is something we hear so often: at work, academics, sports and daily tasks. So why is it that this seems to be thrown out the window by many at the gym? It has no longer become an oddity to see people training for two hours trying to get swole, supersetting biceps curls variations, and I can only shake my head.
When it comes to enhancing performance, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or whatever your goals are, the key is efficiency! Here are 8 tips on how you can be more efficient in the gym:
1) It all starts in the bed
The journey to improving performance starts with proper rest. You want to arrive to the gym alert and active, otherwise you wont be able to perform optimally and you increase your chances of injury. After a long day, your body goes into recovery/rebuilding mode and getting enough sleep lets you reap the benefits of your hard work at the gym. Try getting around 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
2) Plan ahead!
I’ve noticed some people arriving at the gym and not having a clue what to do or where to go. This is a huge waste of time, because you’re spending more time thinking about what to do instead of actually doing it. Come up a plan that you can follow — write it out or print it out ahead of time and come prepared. If you have no idea what you’re doing, ask someone who does!
By preparation, I mean warm up, which determines how well you will perform during your workout.
Good Warm Up = Good Workout.
Make sure to go through the full range of motion for the movements you will be performing during the workout, as it is not good enough to just “get the body warm”. For more detail on warming up, check out Praneeth’s article, which goes into detail on this issue.
Usain Bolt does full dynamic warm-ups. Don’t you want to be like Usain Bolt?
4) Time management
You do not need 2 hours to get fit. I spend my summers training junior and professional hockey players, and these guys don’t even spend that much time in a session (this includes extensive warm-ups, proper rest and occasional prehab work). If you aren’t playing professional or varsity sports, all you need is 30 minutes to an hour to have a good workout.
To cut down on time, group functional movements into supersets. By doing so, you are still exercising while resting certain muscles. A second benefit is the limited rest provides anaerobic conditioning at the same time.
Try mixing an upper body movement pattern (push or pull), a lower body movement pattern (lunge or squat) and add in an exercise that improves core stability (carries, planks, anti-rotational work).
5) Don’t sit down
Sitting down is one of the worst things you can do for your body physiologically and you do it all day, so why do it in the gym as well? Isolation moves such as biceps curls and triceps extensions are not functional movements to begin with so don’t make them worse by sitting down.
When you are resting, you should also be standing. You are allowing better blood flow to your extremities, and staying tall allows better airflow to your lungs. This means you recover faster.
6) Movement patterns > Muscle isolation
Use less isolation moves. Don’t plan workouts by grouping muscles either (back day, shoulders and arms, etc.). Plan workouts with functional movement patterns. Let’s be honest, how many tasks do you perform throughout the day where you isolate one specific muscle? Not too many.
Different movement patterns allow the inclusion of many different muscle groups, which means you’re increasing your energy expenditure (for those interested in losing weight) and your training is much more applicable to every day activities or sports.
7) Eat all kinds of foods!
Let me clarify: Eat all kinds of good foods! If you exercise, and don’t fuel your body, you are not able to repair the damage you have done, thus getting weaker and actually decreasing performance.
When refueling, eat energy dense foods. You need your proteins, your complex carbs, your fats, and right after a workout you need all kinds of simple sugars. Getting the right foods in your body helps speed up recovery and allows for an increase in growth and performance. This means better workouts in the following days.
8) Don’t be shy
If you are unsure about anything, ask the professionals! There are many trainers around the gyms, professors who specialize in this field and other individuals who have experience in training who are all willing to help you with any troubles or issues you have. Use this to your advantage. You can always learn something new, so take in as much as you can to improve your methods.
If you are finding you are not making good strides towards your goals, spend less time doing the bad things (inefficient movements, sitting down, eating bad and poor recovery) and use your time to work on the good things!
How do maximize your time in the gym? Have any questions for David? Comment below and remember to “like” us on facebook!
My name is David Emond and I am currently a 2nd year Kin student at UW. As a former junior hockey player, I spend my summers as a trainer with my specialty being hockey players. I’ve been fortunate enough to help out in Dr. Stu McGill’s human biomechanics lab, and because of that, I’m passionate about constantly finding new ways to improve athletic performance. If you ever see me around feel free to come have a chat about anything fitness!