Build muscle and burn fat faster by ditching your phone, being anti-social, and adopting seven other strategies.
Pete Williams, CPT 1 / 10
It’s considered a modern badge of honor to spend more time on something. Some pride themselves on spending 70 hours a week at the office, committing two hours a day at the gym, or even binge television watching, as if that’s an accomplishment.
For others, we're looking for ways to do things more efficiently—to get a greater return on our investment of time. Nowhere is that more possible than in the gym, where you can eliminate time sucks, distractions, and inefficient routines to save time and produce greater results. The key is to train with more intensity so you get more out of every second you spend exercising. Here are nine ways to do just that. Consider it your new ROI—return on intensity.
Nothing kills the intensity and focus of a workout more than checking your phone. How can you have any focus when you’re consumed with people miles away? Not to mention: the guy who lays a phone on a bench or around gym machines is the guy who soon will be replacing a screen or phone crushed by a dumbbell. Nothing is more annoying than the person who makes calls in the gym, snaps selfies, or bumps into people while texting. Leave the phone at home or in a locker. If you absolutely need your own music to train, buy a small music device that’s just a music player. (Yes, they still make them.)
Nothing sucks time and intensity more than resting between sets. Do circuits rather than resting between three or four sets of the same movement. Consider alternating an upper body pull (such as pull-ups) with an upper body push (push-ups) or a lower-body push (squats). That way part of you is resting while another part is working. Thus part of you is working at all times, maintaining the intensity and moving the workout along.
Even CrossFit detractors will concede that CrossFit is ideal for the ADHD workout crowd because it keeps you moving, hammering through WODs with no rest as you attempt to complete AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in a given timeframe. The music, coaches, and CrossFit box vibe also provide intensity most people can’t generate working out solo.
Sure, the gym is a great place to make friends and even meet a significant other. But chatting with friends and acquaintances drains the intensity and continuity out of a workout. If you have a training partner committed to working as hard as you are, great. Otherwise put your head down, avoid eye contact, and keep moving through your workout. Wear ear buds if you must to avoid those who use the gym as social hour.
Instead of slogging through another five-mile, steady-state jog, head to the track and run some intervals. Alternate between two-minute intervals of normal, maintain-a-conversation pace and two minutes of running at 80 percent effort. You’ll train yourself to run faster, getting more benefit in 20 or 30 minutes than others going for another (much longer) leisurely jog.
Come armed with a written workout. Not only does this force you to think about your training session beforehand, it keeps you on task. By putting a training session in writing, you’re more likely to include new and challenging movements rather than fall back on familiar exercises that produce little benefit since your body has adapted to them.
Instead of trekking across the room to the water fountain every few sets, bring a bottle of water. This saves time and maintains intensity. Too often we use the walk to the water fountain as an excuse to rest. We’re hydrating, after all. Avoid that temptation by having water close at hand.
Keep your workout in one area of the gym so you’re not spending time walking all over the place, killing the intensity. If necessary, organize your routines in sections so you can perform large chunks of the workout in one area.
Sure, you can sit on a stationary bike in the back of a spin class and go through the motions, admiring the view of what’s often a predominately female group. Or you can listen to the instructor and push through a tough hour of interval training. Because of the heat and sweat produced in a spin class, it’s easy to overestimate your exertion. Wear a heart rate monitor to get a more accurate measurement of how hard you’re pushing.