We all know how busy life can be. When you're juggling work, children, relationships, commuting and the countless other things that steal your time, finding space in your diary to workout can be tough. For many people, going to the gym is often the easiest thing to discard when time is tight. Before you do though, I've got some fantastic tips to help you get the most from the training time you do have, that will keep you on track and deliver real results in limited time.
Like many things in our busy lifestyles, the draws on our time is often unique to each of us. Whilst we might share the fact that we go to work, have children or commute each day which all take our time, the actual details will differ, so it's time to get smart about it!
Depending on what your own individual goals are, how you utilise the limited time you might have will change, but either way, being clever about your training is going to be key. For example, if you are wanting to lose fat, then all you need is a regular calorie deficit, which you can do without spending any time in the gym at all. You can achieve this by just moving more; walking to / from work (if appropriate), taking the stairs instead of the lift and some simple home exercises will burn the calories you need.
If, however, you're aiming to build (or maintain) muscle, then we need to be a little bit cleverer. If time is REALLY tight, I'm here to tell you that you really can decrease your time in the gym whilst increasing your results. Let's take a look at how you can do that.
First things first, to reach your goals, weight training is going to be your focus, so it's time to get structured with your training. If you are serious about building muscle, then you're going to need to do it 2-3 times a week, but more importantly, it's about using what little time you have more effectively.
As we're trying to make our training more time efficient, it's going to be about doing it with a greater discipline, increased focus and rigorous compliance, which will all yield much better results than long, drawn-out sessions. No cheating, no shortcuts, no posing, just structured, intense training to reap those rewards. I've got a 6-point plan to help you out. Ready?
1. High-Frequency Muscle Stimulation
Sounds scary I know, but basically it's about hitting the biggest muscles in your body regularly to increase protein synthesis to help them grow. By training your muscles with a higher frequency (rather one leg or arm day a week) will help them to grow quicker as they adapt to the more frequent stresses placed upon them.
2. Big Moves
When you're training, this step is about dominating the big, multi-joint movement patterns that already probably form an intrinsic part of your routine. Things like deadlifts, squats and many of the push-pull movements should form a large part of your training,, if they aren't already. Whichever of them you're comfortable with, stay consistent with them for a month to earn big gains.
3. Rep Speed
This isn't about doing your reps quickly for the sake of it, it's about doing them with maximum force, without losing the all-important good form you need.
Each rep needs to be done explosively to force your body to generate maximum tension between each rep. As the weights move quickly with the maximum of force, you'll gain more muscle fibres, which maximises the nervous system for greater performance whilst minimising the stresses on your joints.
4. Ramp Loading
Basically, increasing the resistance you're using gradually. This is a key component in making your training more focused. Using this with shorter workouts will allow you more quality time when used with shorter rest periods. If you incorporate this technique with the explosive rep speed in Step 3, you are really doubling down on it.
5. Progressive Loading
This is really at the core of what you're trying to achieve. Progressively increasing your lifting weights will allow your body to improve and grow over time, through the anabolic response created with your training. Lifting heavier weights (without risking injury by going too heavy, too quickly), going further and doing more will be how you can do more with less time.
6. Resting with Discipline
When I'm talking about resting, I don't just mean the time between sets or reps. I'm talking about the time between workouts. Your body needs this time to repair and recharge. When time is tight, it's easy to think you can fill the space with more training, but that's short-term thinking and only risks injury. Structure your training to embrace rest periods. Use them when your schedule simply doesn't lend itself to training and make the most of your downtime. It's still helping you reach your goals.
By following these simple plans, you really can train less but achieve more. It's about being smart with your time and being disciplined enough to be laser-focussed when you are training. Don't let a lack of time deter you from creating the body you want. It's there for you, and there's no time like the present to start.