How to save time on your workouts and still get fit

Posted Nov. 03, 2011, at 1:26 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 03, 2011, at 5:15 p.m.

Everyone can relate to this scenario at one point or another in life. The new year rolls around, and the sale of gym memberships increases at alarming rates as everyone makes a New Year’s resolution to get fit. After a few weeks or months, the population at the gym begins to decrease and that expensive gym membership goes unused for the remainder of the year.

Why is this? For one thing, most people lead hectic lifestyles, and working out at the gym requires time. Sometimes there is a waiting period before you get to use a piece of equipment, as well as many other time wasters when you work out in a gym. Some people also live a distance away from the gym, so they see it as an inconvenience and stop going.

What’s the answer? Well, a physical therapist not only can recommend a personalized workout regimen, they also can show you how to save time working out so you can integrate it with your busy lifestyle without sacrificing fitness. First, you should consult with a physical therapist on a personalized plan that is appropriate for your age and health status. In addition to a plan, your physical therapist also can recommend ways you can save time on your regular workout routine.

Work out at home

See your physical therapist regularly to ensure that your workout routine is on schedule and still aligned with your current health status, and then set it up so you can work out at home. Although the cost of a treadmill or other exercise equipment may appear astronomical, it isn’t if you add up the cost of a gym membership every year. The equipment you purchase for your home will more than pay for itself, and you will save money on medical bills as well. You also can work out anytime you want, and you will save time getting dressed for your workout, driving to the gym, waiting to use the equipment and driving back home.

Work out every other day

If you now are working out up to six times a week or even every day, try cutting back to every other day. As a general rule, the body needs at least 48 hours to recover from a workout. For this reason, you can shift your routine to every other day for a slightly longer period of time. For example, if you work out six times a week and alternate each day with strength training and cardio, you most likely spend a half-hour to 45 minutes each day working out six times a week. If you switch your routine to every other day and extend the time you work out, you will have the other days off to allow your body to recover, and you will save time as well.

Always have a backup plan

If you like going to the gym but hate the time it takes, come up with a backup plan if the equipment you planned to use is busy. For example, if your workout involves working the upper body and you plan to do bench presses, make sure you have another type of exercise written down that provides the same results as the bench press. There is always alternative equipment that involves a slightly different exercise but works the same muscle group. If possible, go to the gym during nonpeak hours if your schedule allows. If it does not, the backup plan can help you save time you otherwise would waste waiting to use equipment.

Time yourself

Make it a goal to write down the amount of time you are going to spend on each exercise and then stick with it. Time wasted in between sets going to the drinking fountain across the gym, running into someone who wants to chat and other things that make the exercise time longer really add up. If you plan to spend 12 minutes on a specific set of weights, challenge yourself to stick with that routine. Bring a water bottle with you so you do not have to make trips to the drinking fountain. If this appears to be antisocial, remember you are there to get something accomplished: improving your health.

Change your rest period

If you usually do a set of reps and then wait a few minutes before doing the next set, change this to working another part of your body while you rest the other part. For example, if you are doing a set of biceps curls, do a leg exercise while you are resting in between the sets of biceps curls. This will keep your heart rate up and contribute to your cardio routine. You still are doing your usual routine, and you are saving time as well.

These are just a few ways that you can save time working out and still stay fit. Your physical therapist has many other creative ways that will help you to save time on your workout and stick to your routine.

Information provided by Results Physical Therapy & Wellness Center: 797 Wilson St., Brewer, 992-4042; 51 High St., Suite C, Dexter, 924-0077; 1012 West Main St., Dover-Foxcroft, 564-0587.

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