20 Tips to Speed Up Your Workout Now
We hear it all the time: “I’m too busy to work out!” Well say adios to that excuse. We’ve got 20 easy hacks to speed up gym time without skimping on a quality workout. Just remember, no amount of time saved is worth risking injury— so test out any new super-speedy training regimen with care. (And we’re starting the timer riiiight NOW!)
Prepping & Planning
1. Tune out. Put that phone on airplane mode (the cell service is off, but those apps and tunes are still accessible) and plug in the headphones to avoid responding to texts or chatting with other gym-bodies. Time saved: 3-5 minutes
2. Turn it up. Prep a workout playlist appropriate to the length and type of workout in advance to avoid messing with an iPod mid-workout. Time saved: 1 minute
3. Map it out. Learn the lay of the land to skip searching for your favorite machines and equipment (where the heck do they hide those BOSU balls again?!). New to the gym? Ask a trainer to show you around. Time saved: 3-5 minutes
4. Head in during off-hours. Not having to work-in to someone else’s sets can save precious minutes. Off-peak hours may also mean plenty of available free weights and more cardio machine options (hooray for not being squeezed between the two super-sweaters on the treadmills!). Time saved: 3-5 minutes
5. Don’t be picky. Instead of showing up to classes 10 minutes early to snag your usual spot, choose classes that are routinely less full. Or just suck it up: Show up at start time and don’t worry about where you stand (someone will probably show up late and block your “window” anyway). Time saved: 5-10 minutes
6. Superset. Decreasing the rest time between sets may burn more calories and work muscles smarter— not to mention shave off precious seconds  . And at 3 sets of 7 exercises, those 30 seconds saved per set really add up. (Go hard or go home, right?) Time saved: 10 minutes
7. Join a class. It’s like having a personal trainer— but with 25 of your closest pals. With their definite start and end times, full-body focus, and central stash of gear, organized strength training sessions may be just the ticket for a quicker workout. Time saved: 5-10 minutes
8. Keep it moving. When moving from one weight rack to another, try lunges or bicep curls instead of doing them as a separate set later (just be sure to return everything to its rightful home at the end). Time saved: 30 seconds
9. Gotta Tabata. High-intensity interval training, like Tabata, can trim a workout down to as little as 4 minutes. Give it a shot, but go easy at first to avoid collapsing into a hot, sweaty ball of emotion on the floor (never a good look). Time saved: 15-30 minutes
10. Go full-body. Make the most of lifting time: Choose compound lifts (like deadlifts and lunges) over isolation exercises to work multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Time saved: 15-20 minutes
11. Run intervals. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race. Instead of running at a steady pace, try interval training, which alternates bursts of high and low intensity cardio. Time saved: 10-20 minutes
12. Go solo. Or work out with a pal who doesn’t mind a silent run. When aiming to get in, get out, and get on with life, a higher intensity workout is a must. And being able to chat means that goal isn’t being met (it’s called the “talk test”). Time saved: 5 minutes
13. Avoid distractions. Know what will get in the way of an effective workout before hopping on the treadmill. So if reading a book or watching TV interferes with keeping pace, nix it. Time saved: 5 minutes
In the Locker Room
14. Walk it out. While heading out to the gym floor, rotate the arms front, back, and across the chest to kick-start a warm-up— just don’t forget to stretch out the rest of those muscles before getting started! Time saved: 1 minute
15. Shower stretch. Try post-workout stretches in the shower (to avoid slipping, it might be a good idea to limit it to the upper body) or locker room while prepping to leave. (Just make sure no one’s looking… awkward!) Time saved: 3 minutes
16. Don’t change out. Work out before or after work instead of mid-day and just wear gym clothes on the way in or out (one less changing sesh!). Time saved: 3-5 minutes
17. Take a quickie. Shower, that is. Stick hair in a shower cap and use dry shampoo (if necessary) after toweling off. No need to dry and style! Time saved: 5-20 minutes
18. Skip the sink. Instead of scrubbing away at the sink (and washing away a face of makeup, ladies), use a pre-moistened face cloth to wipe away sweat and grime. This will also leave eye makeup intact— just reapply what’s needed. Time saved: 1-4 minutes
19. Stay organized. Instead of dumping gym gear into a bag, keep things organized to save precious time wrangling toiletries and unknotting headphones. Time saved: 1-2 minutes
20. Don’t clean up after yourself. Wiping down equipment is for losers! Just kidding— always be courteous to other gym-goers, even if it takes a few minutes.
Don’t see your speedy workout secret on this list? Tell us what we missed in the comments below!
- The metabolic costs of reciprocal supersets vs. traditional resistance exercise in young recreationally active adults. Kelleher, A.R., Hackney, K.J., Fairchild, T.J., et al. Musculoskeletal and Human Performance Laboratories, Department of Exercise Science, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010 Apr;24(4):1043-51.⤴
- Effects of different strength training methods on postexercise energetic expenditure. Da Silva, R.L., Brentano, M.A., Kruel, L.F. Exercise Research Laboratory, Physical Education School, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010 Aug;24(8):2255-60.⤴
Comments Leave a comment
I think some thoughtful planning before hand will save a ton a time later on. So packing your bag with what you need the night before and other simple things like that. I'd also suggest density training, that's where you choose a certain amount of time say 15 minutes, then choose a few compound movements (squat, lunge, pushup, mountain climbers) and a number of reps for each say 10, and see how many sets you can finish of the circuit within the time limit. I've used this whenever I feel like there isn't enough time to head to the gym.
@kevinasuncion Thanks for sharing these ideas. My boyfriend does the pack the bag beforehand thing, too. I hadn't heard of density training, though. Sounds really cool.
I keep my running shoes in the trunk of my car. I don't get too hung up on the interval vs. slower run because by god, I got my shoes on and I'm moving my arse!