Before I had my son, Zane, I used to train like a beast. Seven days a week, very often twice a day. Training has always been a hugely important part of my life. I’ve never done it just to look good (it’s a bonus, though!). For me, it’s always been about being fit and healthy and challenging myself. I spent a lot of time reading about fitness, nutrition and the science behind what I was doing. When my wife was pregnant I remember being worried about how the arrival of the baby would impact my training. I mean, I knew I would not be able to train twice a day, but just how many days a week would I be able to train? Three days? I guess I could survive on that. Once a week? Hmmm.
I decided to look at what I was doing in the gym and think about how I could achieve what I wanted to achieve in the least amount of time possible. Then I looked at my entire gym routine and realised it was leisurely to say the least!
Now I was going to be time-poor, it was time to fix up.
Here I share with you three top tips for getting the most out of your workout time – how to get the best bang for your buck in the least amount of time.
- Choose a gym as close to your house as possible – This seems obvious, but we often choose a gym for reasons other than proximity. If it takes 20 minutes to get there and 20 to get back, you’re 40 mins down before you’ve even picked up a barbell. If a gym has facilities for squats, bench press, deadlifting and somewhere to do pull-ups and dips, you’re sorted for strength training. For cardiovascular health (“cardio”), make sure they have some rowers, bikes, treadmills and a matted area. Everything else is a luxury, and we don’t need luxuries. You may find you save yourself some cash here, too. Never a bad thing!
- Know what you are trying to achieve – One of my favourite articles on the entire internet is F**karounditis by Martin Berkhan. Go read it now, as to paraphrase would do it no justice. OK, got the gist? When you go into a gym you should know exactly what you are going to do in that session, and what it will achieve. Have a plan. Workouts do not have to be long to be effective. If strength is important to you, find a programme that makes use of exercises that build strength in the least amount of time. “531” by Jim Wendler is, in my opinion, the best for this. If cardio is important to you, then look at things like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT training has been shown to improve aerobic and anaerobic fitness, cardiovascular health, blood pressure and much more. But the real beauty of HIIT training is that the sessions are short – just what a time-poor dad needs! If you train in a discipline such as cycling, running or rowing, you can create a HIIT session quite easily based on those sports.
- Stop Wasting Time – It’s amazing how much time I was wasting in the gym. I’d stroll through the door and chat to the reception staff for a bit, get changed slowly while chatting to people in the changing room. I’d then do a leisurely warm-up before hitting the weights. Rests were clearly more than I needed. Add to that a few lengthy water breaks and I was burning serious time. No wonder my gym sessions were two hours! So, how to fix this? First, get ready at home. Shorts on, gym t-shirt on, gym trainers on. Put your clothes in your bag for your journey home and take a litre bottle of water with you. Second, don’t dilly-dally! Say hi to people, sure, but you’ve got business to take care of so make it quick. Third, five minutes on a bike, treadmill or rowing machine is enough to warm up your body. Get it done and head straight to the weights area, or get ready for your HIIT session. Always use a timer for your rests. Your phone is fine but make sure it is on flight mode so you are not tempted to check Emails, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Slack etc. Unless you are a head of state, I’m sure you can go an hour offline. Having earphones in is a brilliant non-verbal way of saying “I’m not here to socialise”. Once done, skip the shower and get out of there. Have a shower at home, of course – you don’t want to be stanking all night.
Some of these may seem silly, but us time-poor dads need every second we can get, right?
OK, so you’ve found a gym around the corner, you’ve figured out what’s important to you and what you want to achieve, and you’ve got your tips to get in and out. In part 2 we’re going to look at a sample weights programme and a couple of cardio sessions to get you on your way.
See you soon for part 2.
Written by Adrian
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