How to Be More Productive at the Gym
It can be difficult to squeeze in time at the gym between work or school and the demands of your family life and other activities. You want to make sure you're making the most of what little time you have. Additionally, the more time you spend at the gym, the less effective whatever you do will be. Ideally, you want to carve out at least 30 minutes a day to exercise. To be more productive at the gym, you must eliminate as many distractions as possible and use focus and intensity in pursuit of your fitness goals.
Turn off notifications.Any text or email you get while you're working out can wait a half hour or so until you're done. Barring an actual emergency, there's no need for you to constantly check your messages while you're exercising.
- Notifications are a distraction that can cause you to lose focus. Starting and stopping your routine every few minutes to actually respond can destroy the effectiveness of your workout.
- Before you begin your workout, you can easily shut off the notifications on your phone or put it on airplane mode while you're exercising.
- Don't bring devices with you that you don't need for your workout. If you have a fitness app or want to listen to music, you can still shut off notifications.
Choose workout clothes that fit.If you have to adjust your clothing every few seconds, you'll end up spending more time messing with your clothes than exercising. Even when you're not actually adjusting your clothes, you'll be thinking about it, which destroys your concentration.
- When you buy new workout clothes, go into the store to buy them in person so you can try them on. Move around in the fitting room to make sure the clothing will move with you.
- Keep in mind that you're not going to get the best workout if you're constantly worrying about whether you're exposing yourself as you go through your routine.
- Untied shoelaces can not only be a distraction, but also a safety hazard. Tie your shoes in a double-knot before you start your workout to keep them secure.
- If you have long hair, pull it back before your workout so it's not falling in your face and you have full visibility.
Go to the gym during non-peak hours.If the gym is packed, you won't be making the best use of your time – particularly if you have to wait for a free machine or compete for floor space. If you can, try to go to the gym in the middle of the day when there are fewer people.
- A crowded gym also can be distracting because there are so many people for you to watch, or potentially engage in conversation.
- One key to being more productive at the gym is to keep your chit-chat with other gym patrons to an absolute minimum.
- If going to the gym in the middle of the day isn't an option for you, consider going to a different location that's less busy.
- Even if it takes you a little longer to get to the gym in the morning, you'll make up for that time in not having to wait for machines.
Bring your own water.Your gym probably has plenty of water fountains. However, if you have to stop your routine to walk over to the fountain and get water, then walk back, you're wasting precious time and killing your productivity.
- Buy a large water bottle that you can refill, and freeze it or fill it full of ice cubes before you go to the gym so your water will be refreshingly cool.
- Try to stick to plain water without flavoring or other additives, and avoid sports drinks. Water is your best choice to keep your body hydrated as you go through your routine.
- Hydration is important if you want your workout to be effective and you want to make the best use of your time at the gym.
Focusing Your Efforts
Create your own playlist.Music is a great way to focus and motivate yourself as you go through your workout routine. Plan a specific playlist ahead of time that is full of upbeat songs that you enjoy listening to and that drive you forward.
- Once you've set your exercise plan, you can create a playlist that's timed to follow your routine.
- For example, you may pick more down-tempo songs for your warm up and cool down, or faster electronic music with driving beats that will set the pace for cardio.
- Various fitness and sports equipment companies have playlists you can download that are specifically designed for particular types of workouts.
- If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of creating a playlist on your own from scratch, these ready-made playlists can be beneficial. If they include songs you don't like, you can tweak them to suit your own needs.
Set realistic fitness goals.If you want to make the best use of your time at the gym, you need to walk in the door already knowing exactly what you're going to do and when you're going to do it. Design a routine and set goals for each session as well as longer-term goals that will keep you focused.
- The goals you set will depend on the reasons you're working out in the first place. For example, if you're just exercising to maintain your basic fitness level, your goals will be different than if you're trying to lose weight.
- Start out small, and don't try to take on too much at once. If you over-exert yourself, you could end up with an injury that results in you having to start all over again.
- Break your ultimate goal into small, reachable steps that will encourage you to keep striving towards your goal.
- For example, if your goal is to lose 40 pounds, you may want to set yourself a goal of two pounds per week.
Exercise separately from other people at the gym.If you're working out alone, do your best to actually work out alone – not surrounded by other people, who can distract you and cause you to lose focus. If your gym has an exercise classroom that isn't being used, you may be able to move your equipment there.
- For example, if you're doing a stretching routine, or floor exercises that only require resistance bands or hand weights, move to a private, more isolated part of the gym if at all possible.
- Moving away from other people allows you to focus exclusively on your own exercises and your form, rather than being distracted by what other people or doing or wondering if other people are looking at you.
- If you're using an elliptical or a treadmill that can't be moved, you don't really have a choice in who surrounds you. However, using headphones and facing forward can help you focus and avoid distractions.
- Keep in mind the reason you're going to the gym. You came there to exercise and focus on your own physical fitness – not to socialize or to watch other people working out.
Download a fitness app.If you have a smart phone, there are many different fitness apps from which you can choose. Most are free, while others cost a small amount up front or may require you to purchase a subscription for monitoring services.
- You can find fitness apps that will monitor your heart and breathing rate, as well suggest exercises to benefit you in various ways.
- If you're interested in using an app, check out what's available and decide what functions you need.
- Using a more expansive app with extensive monitoring functions on a free trial may be a good option if you're not sure how many of those functions you'll actually use on a regular basis.
- Keep in mind that any fitness app you use is only as good as what you put into it. If you're not going to use the app – or if you find the app itself distracting – it's not worth your investment.
Work more than one muscle group at a time.Rather than focusing on one muscle group at a time, exercises that give you a whole body workout are a better use of your time at the gym – particularly if that time is limited.
- Many exercise machines are designed to work multiple muscle groups. For example, rowing machines engage your arms and shoulders, legs, and core muscles.
- If you're working out more than one muscle group, your form becomes even more important if you want to avoid strain or overexertion.
- When using machines, make sure you're using the machine correctly and only for the purpose for which it was intended. Avoid getting creative and using the machine for exercises it wasn't designed for, such as doing leg lifts with a knee brace bar.
- Consider getting an expert to review your stance and movement and make sure you're doing the exercises correctly.
Increase resistance.If you continue to do the same exercises over and over, not only will you get in a rut, but those exercises will lose their effectiveness over time. Using hand and ankle weights or resistance bands helps you avoid a plateau.
- For example, if you've been doing leg lifts for several weeks, strapping on ankle weights adds resistance and improves the effectiveness of the exercise. This way you'll continue to build strength in your legs.
- If you're doing cardio on a treadmill, try increasing the angle so that you're running or walking slightly uphill to increase the resistance.
- You can make similar adjustments to an exercise bike or elliptical machine to simulate an uphill workout and increase resistance.
- Adding resistance is about making the exercise more difficult, which forces your body to work harder. This builds muscle and burns more calories.
- Many people are reluctant to add weights to their workout because they don't want to bulk up. However, simply adding resistance is not going to give you large, bulky muscles.
Use a personal trainer.You may not be able to afford to work out with a personal trainer on a daily or even weekly basis. But getting the advice of a certified fitness professional at least once every month or two can enable you to get the most out of your workout.
- The personal trainer should watch you go through your entire routine. They can then help you troubleshoot your workout and pinpoint exercises that maybe aren't working for you anymore to achieve the goals you've set.
- A personal trainer also can suggest different exercises or routines that will help you increase the productivity of your workout and get the most out of your time at the gym.
- Your gym may offer a limited number of free sessions with a personal trainer. If it does, make sure you take advantage of this offer – it's included in the price you're paying for a gym membership.
Eat before your workout.You don't want to go out for a four-course meal right before you hit the gym, but you also don't want to work out on a completely empty stomach. Give your body the fuel it needs to increase your productivity and reach your fitness goals faster.
- Typically you want to leave at least two hours between the time that you eat a good-sized meal and the time that you go to the gym.
- A half hour or so before you start exercise, have a light snack such as a piece of fruit or a protein bar.
- Focus on pre-workout snacks that will give you energy but don't have complex ingredients that take a long time for your body to break down and digest.
Get sufficient sleep.Many people neglect recovery time when they plan their fitness routines. However, adequate recovery time between workouts is essential if you want to get the most out of your exercises, and sleep is an important element in proper recovery.
- Too little sleep can result in mental and physical fatigue, and can put you at higher risk for injury.
- Doctors and fitness experts recommend you get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. However, keep in mind the quality of that sleep is just as important – if not more important – than the total amount of sleep you get.
- Many people believe they get more out of sleep if they go to bed at a decent hour and sleep several hours before midnight, waking up in the early morning close to daybreak.
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