One of the things I often hear from people is how they can’t find time to exercise. Is it really a valid excuse though?  I have learned over the years of training clients most people’s health, and fitness goals can be obtained without spending hours upon hours in the gym each week. The key is how effectively you use your time, planning your workouts, and prioritizing them. Successful people are skilled in time management at work, and exercise is no different.  Being productive in the gym and having a good set plan and program is essential. Training a few times a week for 30 to 40 minutes is plenty of time to get an effective workout and reach most people’s goals. There is an old saying when it comes to working out, “If you are in the gym longer then an hour you are making friends, not gains.” You want a good workout plan in place. You should train consistently, and follow a good nutritional program to maximize your time in the gym and maximize your results. 

So what is a good and effective training program that is also time-efficient?

 You want to focus on a few things. 

First, you want to build your workout around big, multi-joint exercises that work the most muscles, burn the most calories, and get the most bang for your buck. Multi-joint exercises involve movement in at least two joints in the body (i.e., in squats, you are moving your ankle, knee, and hip joint).  Engage multiple muscle groups. These types of exercises include; squats, deadlifts, step-ups, chin-ups and pressing movements like dumbbell and barbell bench presses, among others. These are considered the foundation or bread and butter exercises. They should be done first or at the beginning of your workout and be the focal point of your workout program. For the most effective results, choose leg exercises that are not just multi-joint exercises but are ground-based movements (where you are standing as in a squat, lunge, deadlift, and step up).

Number two, alternate between upper and lower body exercises or agonist and antagonist exercises (i.e., opposite body parts like chest and back or biceps and triceps). This will allow you to be more efficient with your workouts because while you are working one area of the body, the other area is resting. This will also allow you to keep your rest intervals between exercises and between sets shorter, which will be more time effective.

Number three, utilize supersets and circuit training. Supersets are when you alternate between two different exercises with little to no rest in between. Circuit training is when you cycle through a number of exercises, five or six or more, usually of different body parts with minimal rest in between each exercise. This will allow you to accomplish more work in a shorter period of time.  

Number four, depending on your goal the number of reps you want to do will vary, but for most people’s goals of building muscle and losing fat, you will want to stick in a more moderate rep range. A moderate rep range will usually consist of reps between 8 to about 15.

Number five, you want to utilize short rest intervals between exercises and between sets. The definition of short rest intervals can vary depending upon the program a person is doing, a person’s level of experience and fitness level and the program goal but generally a short rest interval is anything ranging from little to no rest to up to 45 to 60 seconds. The short rest intervals will allow you to get a lot more work done in your workouts. It will also increase your fat-burning due to a build-up of lactic acid (that burning sensation you get in the muscles) which is associated with the release of growth hormone, a potent fat burning and muscle building hormone. The short rest will also increase fat burning because of creating a higher demand for oxygen by the working muscles that are much greater than the body’s ability to deliver it to the muscles producing an increase in calories burned. This is what is called an oxygen debt, and this can continue for hours and hours after exercising, resulting in increased fat burning after exercise.

Here is a couple of sample workouts that should take around 30 minutes each that incorporates each of the areas I listed to focus on. They can be done three times a week in an alternating fashion.

• A1 and A2, B1 and B2 and C1 and C2 represent supersets. These are done in an alternating fashion where you do one set of the first exercise with the prescribed rest interval followed by a set of the other exercise followed by the prescribed rest interval. If the sets say 3 or 4 that means you do 3 or 4 supersets for the given number of reps at the given rest interval. Be sure to do all the exercises in a smooth and controlled manner in strict form.