We’ve all been strapped for time when we’re in the gym, right? We all want to make those gains, but you just don’t have time for a two-hour workout.
Well, you’re in luck because we’ve put together our top tips for a quick and dirty training session to keep those gains coming.
Have a plan
To make the most of your time in the gym and to get the most from your workouts, you need to have a plan all mapped out before you get started. This also helps you track your routines, including reps, sets and weight – allowing you to keep pushing yourself.
It’s wise to also have a backup plan in place; for example, if you want to use the bench press but all stations are full, have a backup available, such as pivoting to dumbbells.
Group and order your exercises
You need to ensure your main movements come first to perform your best. Otherwise, you might struggle to deadlift at the end of a back day after an hour wearing yourself out on other exercises.
Plus, you can cut down your session time by ordering your routine in a way that reduces rest, travel across the gym and equipment.
Crossing the gym and changing equipment takes more time than you realize; cut time by making your workouts more convenient and grouping your lifts. For example, you could group your routine like this:
- Back Squat (power/squat rack)
- Rack Pull (power/squat rack)
- Walking Lunge (dumbbells)
- Romanian Deadlift (dumbbells)
- Leg Extension (machine)
- Leg Curl (machine)
- Crunch (cables)
Make your warm-up work for you
When you’re short on time, make your warm-up work for you. So, get specific with your warm-up and help your body prepare for what’s ahead.
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On chest day, you could do a short circuit session of push-ups, bench press reps with an empty bar and band pull-aparts to warm up. A few rounds of this will have your heart pumping and support your gains.
Focus on compound movements
Compound movements involve moving more than one joint simultaneously and multiple muscles or muscle groups at once. These can be incredibly valuable when you’re short on time. Choose a compound movement if one exercise can do the same job as three.
You might not get the same level of targeted stress on any individual muscle group, but you’ll save time and cover what you need to.
Below are some of our favorite compound lifts for hitting multiple muscles, don’t make your entire workout these big lifts, but include a few in every workout:
- Front Squat
- Power Clean
- Push Press
- Barbell Row
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Dumbbell Pullover
When you’re short on time, supersets can be a gamechanger by helping you to maximize any fatigue. If you tried to perform two glutes exercises back-to-back, your performance on the second exercise would suffer, but working out two opposing muscles?
So, pair up opposing muscles and cut your rest time down to almost nothing. For example, instead of doing a set of bicep curls and then resting, you could squeeze in a set of triceps extensions instead.
Ask to tap in
Even with a perfectly planned routine, you might hit a roadblock if you find the machines or stations that you want to use busy.
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You could just move on to your next exercise, or you could ask to tap in whilst the person using the machine is resting. This way, your training stays on track, and you may even get a new gym buddy.
Time your rest
When you have all day to train, you might find yourself taking your time between sets and exercises. However, when you’re trying to be as efficient as possible, you need to monitor your rest periods tightly.
It’s so easy to absentmindedly spend longer in the gym if you’re scrolling through social media between sets. But if you set a timer and rest for a set amount of time, you know that you won’t be wasting any time.
For most exercises, 45-90 seconds of rest is plenty of time to recover before going again.
An example arms workout for gains when you’re short on time
We’re sure you typically have enough time to spend in the gym to make the progress you’re looking for, but when you’re short on time, you need to know how to condense your routine to ensure you’re getting the most out of it!
All in all, the sample workout below should take you less than an hour to complete and build up gains in muscles and strength.
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Arms and shoulders are two muscle groups that are well-suited for being time effective. Most of the exercises below use dumbbells, which can be easily changed between workouts. Plus, arm and shoulder exercises tend not to require any set-up, meaning you can get stuck in quickly. Keep your rest time between sets under 90 seconds.
- Superset: Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press and Lateral Raise: 3×6+12
- Superset: Front Plate Raise and Face Pull: 2×12+12
- Seated Dumbbell Curl: 3×8
- Dumbbell Overhead Triceps Extension: 3×8
- Superset: Incline Hammer Curl and Triceps Kickback: 2×12+12
Any veteran bodybuilding competitor will tell you that bodybuilding is a slow burn. Gains don’t come overnight. However, that doesn’t mean that your workouts always have to be marathons; sometimes you have to sprint and get in those gains in a shorter time.
Luckily, thanks to the tips we’ve given you, you’ll be able to make some serious headway with your goals, even in a shorter training session.
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