Tag Archives: efficient workout

How Long Should Your Workout Take?

28 Dec

high-intensity-training[1]There are lots of workout routines that boast the ability to deliver results with just a few minutes of exercise per day.  Conversely, there are others that claim you’ll need to spend hours in the weight room to improve strength, muscle endurance, etc.

Here’s the deal: There’s no specific amount of time definitively associated with measurable progress, as it relates to strength and fitness.  Inadequate training time won’t deliver results, and too-long workouts can jeopardize performance, as well.

Don’t focus on the duration of your workout, because it’s not nearly as important as the quality of your workout.  Rather, you should identify your training goals and direct your attention to two aspects of your training:

  • The intensity level of your workout — how much stress it imposes on your body
  • The recovery time your workout requires — how much rest you need/allow between exercises and sets

The intensity level of your workout is determined by factors such as the amount of weight you lift, the speed at which you lift it, and the number of repetitions and sets.

Generally, higher intensity training requires longer recovery times between exercises and sets.

Although there’s no ideal amount of time, many strength and conditioning experts believe that 45-60 minutes should be an adequate amount of time for an effective, efficient, and focused workout.

Please see related articles, The Fallacy of Workout Duration, and How Long Should You Rest Between Exercises and Sets

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Make Your Workout More Efficient and Productive

16 May

squat4[1]According to a Men’s Health survey, the number one reason for not working out is “not enough time.”  I would argue that most of the people who gave this response just don’t know how to be efficient and productive in the weight room.  If you spend a lot of time chatting, flirting, reading, waiting, and flexing, you’re wasting your time — and wasting your workouts.

Here are some strategies to help you be more efficient and productive at the gym:

  • Have a plan.  Don’t “wing it.”  Create a written itinerary and maintain a workout chart.  Keep track of your exercises, weight, reps, sets, and rest intervals.
  • Don’t let socializing interrupt your workout.  Stay on task.  If you absolutely must, chitchat for a few minutes when you arrive and before you leave.
  • Stay focused on your workout.  I realize there may be plenty of distractions.  Don’t get caught up watching the “scenery” at the gym.
  • Be purposeful with your warmup.  A dynamic warmup (movement prep) only takes a few minutes, prepares your nervous system for activity, and builds strength, stability, and flexibility.
  • Don’t rest so much.  Try doing supersets — performing one movement after another without rest (for example, after a set of bench presses, move directly to a set of dumbbell rows).  Then rest briefly and repeat the superset.  Since each exercise works opposing muscles or movements (pushing versus pulling in this case), you won’t tire as quickly and can spend less time resting between sets.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time waiting for equipment to become available.  Grab a pair of dumbbells, medicine ball, kettlebell, etc. and be productive while you wait, or substitute another exercise with a similar movement.
  • Try high-intensity intervals.  Instead of a slow, steady, low-intensity aerobic workout, pick up the pace every 30-60 seconds.  Raising your intensity by just 15-20% will double the calories burned and cut your workout time in half.
  • Skip the isolation exercises, like bicep curls and crunches.  They provide a very low return on investment.  Try combination moves, like the dumbbell lunge to curl to overhead press.  The most basic compound movements — squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, and rows — are often the most effective.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Here’s Why You Should Train With Supersets

17 Jun
Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bench Press

Seated Cable Row

Seated Cable Row

Supersets are a workout strategy in which you perform sets of two different exercises back-to-back with little or no rest.  They are a great time-saver, and can make your workout more efficient and effective.

Generally, supersets are used for opposing muscle groups, such as chest (e.g., bench press) and back (e.g., row), so that one muscle group can recover while you train the other one, thereby reducing the time needed to rest. These types of supersets are referred to as agonist-antagonist paired sets (or, push-pull sets), since they work opposing muscle groups.  This is an approach we favor at our facility.

Recently the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that subjects who performed leg extension and leg curl supersets also performed better.  In fact, they completed more reps on the leg extension when the leg curl was done immediately beforehand than when done alone, despite getting no rest in between lifts.  Furthermore, when the subjects did rest, even up to 30 seconds, they completed significantly fewer reps and were shown to be activating less muscle in their quads.

Here’s the rationale behind the effectiveness of supersets: Working an antagonistic muscle group increases the nervous system’s activation of the agonist.  In this case, training the hamstrings enabled the quads to work better.  Straight sets (doing a set of one exercise, resting, and repeating) probably have their place when you’re going heavy (although at our facility, we also superset heavy sets), but supersets can boost your workout effectiveness and efficiency.

This is an example of a few of our paired exercise supersets we use at Athletic Performance Training Center:

  • Squat + Glute-Ham Raise
  • Bench Press + Row
  • Shoulder Press + Lat Pulldown

If you need extra time to recover from high-intensity sets of exercises such as the squat or bench press, by all means perform those exercises by themselves.  Then perform your assistance exercises as supersets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How Long Should Your Workout Take?

25 Sep

high-intensity-training[1]There are lots of workout routines that boast the ability to deliver results with just a few minutes of exercise per day.  Conversely, there are others that claim you’ll need to spend hours in the weight room to improve strength, muscle endurance, etc.

Here’s the deal: There’s no specific amount of time definitively associated with measurable progress, as it relates to strength and fitness.  Inadequate training time won’t deliver results, and too-long workouts can jeopardize performance, as well.

Don’t focus on the duration of your workout, because it’s not nearly as important as the quality of your workout.  Rather, you should direct your attention to two aspects of your training:

  • The intensity level of your workout — how much stress it imposes on your body
  • The recovery time your workout requires — how much rest you need/allow between exercises and sets

The intensity level of your workout is determined by factors such as the amount of weight you lift, the speed at which you lift it, and the number of repetitions and sets.

Generally, higher intensity training requires longer recovery times between exercises and sets.

Although there’s no ideal amount of time, many strength and conditioning experts believe that 45-60 minutes should be an adequate amount of time for an effective, efficient, and focused workout.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Summer Fitness Made Easy

26 Jun

0803-summer-fitness_vg[1]Summer is a great time of year (the best, in my opinion), because it’s easy to improve your fitness without making wholesale changes to your routine.  Here are some tips for an active, healthy  — and fit — summer:

  • Get outside.  Walk. Run. Bike. Hike. Enjoy the warm weather. When it gets too hot, take advantage of the early morning and evening hours, when temperatures are more reasonable.
  • Be efficient in the gym. Get in; get your work done; get out.
  • Sleep in on the weekend. It can be difficult to get 7-8 hours every night during the week. Use the weekend to get a full, restorative night of sleep.
  • Eliminate excuses. Can’t get to the gym? Workout at home. Don’t have a lot of time? 10 minutes of concentrated activity is better than none at all.
  • Try a warm weather activity. Find something you enjoy and do more of it while the weather allows.
  • Workout with a friend. You’re more likely to stay on task with a partner.
  • Make more stops at roadside stands for fresh fruits and delicious summer vegetables.
  • Try a new stretch. Use a stretch band (rope or towel) to gently assist in pulling a muscle a little farther than your body would ordinarily allow.
  • Challenge yourself. Gradually and progressively increase the intensity of your workout — weight, reps, sets, reduced rest intervals, etc.
  • Set goals. A combination of short- and long-term goals is important to your success. An end-of-summer (or mid-summer) goal sets your motivation in motion and helps define direction and purpose.
  • Create a summer playlist. A new playlist can boost your motivation when you’re starting a new exercise routine. Keeping your music fresh can help keep your training fun.
  • Beat the heat. Stay hydrated, take frequent water breaks, and avoid midday workouts.
  • Pack a jump rope for your summer vacation.
  • Don’t overdo it. Take some time to recover and regenerate.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Make Your Workout More Efficient and Productive

12 Apr

squat4[1]According to a Men’s Health survey, the number one reason for not working out is “not enough time.”  I would argue that most of the people who gave this response just don’t know how to be efficient and productive in the weight room.  If you spend a lot of time chatting, flirting, reading, waiting, and flexing, you’re wasting your time — and wasting your workouts.

Here are some strategies to help you be more efficient and productive at the gym:

  • Have a plan.  Don’t “wing it.”  Create a written itinerary and maintain a workout chart.  Keep track of your exercises, weight, reps, sets, and rest intervals.
  • Don’t let socializing interrupt your workout.  Stay on task.  If you absolutely must, chitchat for a few minutes when you arrive and before you leave.
  • Stay focused on your workout.  I realize there may be plenty of distractions.  Don’t get caught up watching the “scenery” at the gym.
  • Be purposeful with your warmup.  A dynamic warmup (movement prep) only takes a few minutes, prepares your nervous system for activity, and builds strength, stability, and flexibility.
  • Don’t rest so much.  Try doing supersets — performing one movement after another without rest (for example, after a set of bench presses, move directly to a set of dumbbell rows).  Then rest briefly and repeat the superset.  Since each exercise works opposing muscles or movements (pushing versus pulling in this case), you won’t tire as quickly and can spend less time resting between sets.
  • Don’t spend a lot of time waiting for equipment to become available.  Grab a pair of dumbbells, medicine ball, kettlebell, etc. and be productive while you wait, or substitute another exercise with a similar movement.
  • Try high-intensity intervals.  Instead of a slow, steady, low-intensity aerobic workout, pick up the pace every 30-60 seconds.  Raising your intensity by just 15-20% will double the calories burned and cut your workout time in half.
  • Skip the isolation exercises, like bicep curls and crunches.  They provide a very low return on investment.  Try combination moves, like the dumbbell lunge to curl to overhead press.  The most basic compound movements — squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, and rows — are often the most effective.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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