The way that modern society is structured is, forces us to create time in our day for exercise. It wasn’t always like this! In the past, we just moved; whether it was shoveling snow in Utah, tending a farm in Iowa, or walking to school in California, movement was always a part of our day. Today, as we become increasingly more and more sedentary, we have to make time to get our daily dose of movement. But who has that kind of time? Who can carve out 2 hours to drive to the gym, workout, stretch, shower then go to where we need to get going? Well, what if I told you that you could accomplish everything you needed to in 60 minutes or less? Would that be convenient (The answer is yes). Well, you’re in luck! Coach Jon is here to give you the tips and tools you need to completely maximize your gym time.
How to schedule your workouts
Scheduling your gym time is going to vastly increase your efficiency in the gym. And when I say schedule I mean write it down! If you have a smartphone, schedule it in the calendar app. If you’re still living in the stone age and use a physical planner, that’s ok, that works too (I don’t judge). Doing this is going to do a few things, but the main reason is that it is going to keep us honest and consistent. We tend to schedule things that are of a high priority, and our health IS a high priority. Scheduling our workouts will also give us a sense of urgency while we are working out; if we know that we can only dedicate the next 30 minutes to our workout, we are going to partition our time a bit differently and focus on the things that truly matter, which brings me to our next topic (good segway, huh?).
Early Bird Gets The Worm
The next tip to maximize your training efficiency is to use the first five minutes to set up your training session. Now in a perfect world, we would be able to arrive at our gym/place of exercise and just dive in head first. That’s what we all think is going to happen, but in this technological age we ALL get distracted and lose sight of what we are supposed to be doing. Have you ever walked into the gym and completely forgotten what you were going to do next? Or realized you had been staring at your phone, and that two minutes has vanished into the ether (more on the ether later)? To make sure that we have a plan that is going to be as effective as possible, walk into the gym and sit down and take five minutes to either;
- Write down what you are going to accomplish in the allotted time.
- Review what you are going to be doing and plan how you will be partitioning your time accordingly.
No matter what I have to do or how much time I have to workout I ALWAYS make sure to take at least five minutes to review what I want to do and to get in the right mental state to train- it’s a non-negotiable for me. You may be saying to yourself, “Coach Jon, I am the epitome of planning and already know what I’m doing before I step foot into the gym”. Great! Even still, I would highly encourage you to take five minutes before and take a seat and get all the little stuff ready.
Do you have your playlist loaded and ready to go? Do you want to take a second to finish that pre-workout drink? These things matter because if you don’t get them out of the way in these five minutes before your training, they will take up more time while you fiddle with it during training. Now perhaps even still you’re saying “Coach Jon, I drink my coffee on the way to the gym, and write my workouts out 4 weeks in advance already, this is child’s play”. Great! Take a seat and for 5 minutes visualize what you will be doing. Are you going to be benching heavy? Feel the weight in your hand and the bench on your upper back. Are you going to be doing sprints? Visualize your foot coming in contact with the ground, and your knees driving in front of you with each step. Visualize the goal for the day so when you begin your workout you’ve basically already done it once, doing it again will be a breeze.
The Meat and Potatoes
Our next tip to maximize your workout routine is to eat your meat and potatoes first. What I mean by this is do the things that are going to give you the most bang for your buck at the beginning of the workout. This seems like it would be common sense, but people go about this the wrong way. For example, because of a back injury that I sustained during April 2018, for the entire year after that, my priority was to strengthen my core and to fix many of the imbalances I created from the accumulation of poor training habits. So to begin each and every workout I would spend the first 10-15 minutes doing mobility work for my hips and ankles, and perform core work BEFORE I did anything else. Now did I want to do other exercises that might be more exciting or fun? Of course, but I had been skipping my meat and potatoes for dessert for so long I forced myself to eat them. This may look different from person to person. If you want to get bigger and stronger, perform your heavy compound movements first, such as your squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and everything in between. If you are trying to improve your hip mobility, spend the beginning doing some 90/90 hip switches before anything else. It may seem obvious to some, but all too often somebody will tell me they want to get better mobility and aren’t doing any until the end of their workout.
Mix The Vegetables in The Sauce!
I’d be willing to bet money that a large portion of you reading this were just like I was and did not enjoy eating vegetables. Doesn’t matter what it was! If it wasn’t meat I probably didn’t want to eat it. Because I was on an anti-veggie campaign through my younger years, my parents had to mix my vegetables in the sauce, which is exactly what I want you to do. Nobody actually wants to spend the time doing the prerequisite stretching and mobility that is required from us, but we have to do it to stay healthy. If we want to maximize our time in the gym, I would recommend performing these mobility drills during your rest, in between sets. For example, if we are performing 3 sets of 8 in the squat, I would perform my 90/90 hip switches during my 90-120 seconds rest period. A few words of caution about this, I would not recommend performing traditional “stretching”, I would much rather loaded mobility. The reason for this being that when we are performing resistance exercise or even cardiovascular exercise, we need a certain amount of tightness in our muscles to be stable during the movement. Excessively stretching our hamstrings before a squat will likely hinder our performance during the movement, which we do not want. Performing mobility drills during rest times will not only make us more efficient during our training, but it will also help improve our mobility during the movements themselves.
GET OFF OF YOUR PHONE
There is no good transition into this because this issue always gets me fired up so I’m just going to dive in. GET OFF OF YOUR PHONE. When you are training in the gym doing whatever you need to do, leave your phone alone. Do whatever you can do to minimize the number of times you look at your phone because it will distract you from the task at hand, I guarantee it. Ideally, we would be able to go into the gym without it on us at all, but I’m not unreasonable. I understand the role that some good music has on our performance. I get that our phones are wonderful tools that can help us regulate rest times, keep a log of our workouts, and search instructional videos if we’re having issues with technique. So in light of that, I would have a few recommendations,
- Turn airplane mode on.
- Have music playlist ready.
- Turn on grayscale to prevent distraction.
All too often I have seen people in the process of doing a movement and on their phone simultaneously and it truly amazes me. All too often I’ll see a CERTIFIED TRAINER doing a movement while watching videos on their phone and that’s just an utter disappointment. Please, I’ll keep this nice and short to avoid preaching anymore. Get off of your phone. You’ll save Coach Jon many headaches and make the world a better place. Thank you.
There you have it, Coach Jon’s tips and tricks to maximize your workout efficiency. If you take only one thing from this article, let it be to get off of your phone while working out. You’ll be okay if you aren’t on social media or texting your friend for the next 60 minutes, I promise!
Sports Performance Coach
“Coach Jon, Irvine Strength and Conditioning Coach who is an athlete himself and someone I recommend to my patients because he knows what he is doing and his attention is on the proper form and injury prevention which is how it should be.”- Dr. Shakib