As people get busier and busier now a days, time has become more precious than ever before.
The classic, “There’s not enough time in a day” answer is being heard more and more often, leaving whatever time you might have for yourself left in a day – extremely valuable.
I’ve always been a huge fan of productivity outside of the gym in order to get more quality work done throughout the day, but don’t get me twisted – I still love me some effective and efficient workouts in the gym as well.
If you’re scrambling for time like almost everyone else on this journey that we call life, or if you’re just looking to ramp up the intensity within your workout and get a little extra work done in the same amount of time – start doing this yesterday.
1. Time Your Rest
Literally time it. I’m pretty sure everyone has a smart phone or knows a gym teacher (shout out to Mr. Paskiw) and therefore has access to some sort of timer. Even then I would hope the facility you’re going to has a clock you can look at.
The reason why dudes are taking so long in the gym and most of the reason why the intensity is low is because they’re walking around or sitting on their phone between sets for way too long. Limit your rest time between sets to 60-120 seconds depending on what you’re doing and get a freaking sweat going. That’s what you’re there for.
Timing your rest can be an excellent tool not only to get the prescribed amount of work done a lot quicker, but you can start training other systems. For example squat for 3 reps every minute on the minute for a set period of time, rather than taking a 10 minute coffee break between sets.
With limited rest we can start training our body under a little extra fatigue and add a little more stress, something new the body will have to adapt to and repair the muscles for.
What happens when our bodies are forced to adapt and repair? Yep. We get stronger/faster/better.
Related: 30 Seconds to Failure - Activate Muscle Growth in Short Workouts
Obviously, if I’m going for a max I wouldn’t limit my rest completely, in that case I would want to be as fresh as possible in order to hit the desired weight – but you catch my drift here.
Aside from that I find that timing my sets keeps the intensity high within my workouts and ensures a solid training session. You know what that feels like and you know when you don’t get one.
Start timing your sets and get to work.
2. Super Set!
Timing the rest was more applicable to strength work, but incorporating super sets can be used for adding a little extra in, or tossing in some “Sneaky Conditioning.” A super set can be used however you want, whether it be for strength lifts, strength and conditioning, or straight up conditioning.
I originally started doing this within the programming here at my gym because I wanted to give my athletes as much as possible and really pack that hour with as much training as I could. Our classes are all an hour long so I had to get creative, enter then sneaky conditioning.
Super sets aren’t anything new, every bro on the block knows what a super set is and probably yells it out at least 6 times during a workout even if he’s not doing one.
Super sets are a fantastic way to add in extra accessory work, put some extra stress on the muscles in a short amount of time, sprinkle in a little extra conditioning, and just get more work done in general. We usually toss in a super set almost every training session to squeeze in some more work, primarily with accessory lifts.
So instead of doing a set of weighted lunges and then taking a break for a few minutes, head straight to another exercise that either compliments the one you just did or hits something on the opposite end and then take a break.
Related: 5 Day Superset & Timed Set Muscle Building Workout
For example, I would do a set of 12 weighted lunges, then as soon as I was done I would move straight into a set of 5 good mornings and then take a break for a minute or so. Do that for a few sets and BAM, more work done and the intensity is still cranked to 11.
You could even do three exercises back to back to back and then take a break, just make sure they’re structured in accordance to your workout. The accessory movement supersets are a staple in our program to get more work done, but we also use the same tactic for conditioning segments as well.
In that instance we might be doing a set of pull ups (or whatever you happen to be doing), then immediately move into a 100m sprint, or row, or burpee box jumps – anything to sneak a little taste of conditioning in there. After the set is done take your required rest, then hit it again with the same intensity.
Key here is to take your rest, not too long like we’ve talked about, but when it’s time to work again – WORK.
3. Intervals and EMOMS
Oh boy, do I love me some intervals and EMOMS (Every Minute on the Minute). This is similar to the timed rest we talked about above, but I’m trying to drive a point home here and I’ve had way too much coffee.
Intervals and EMOMS are very simple because it forces you to get the work done. It doesn’t matter if you’re tired or maybe not quite ready for that next set, when the minute rolls over – you’re starting the next set. If we’re talking about intervals we can use this beauty tactic with either the strength or conditioning portion.
If I’m using it for my strength accessory lifts than I would establish a set amount of work that I wanted to get done in a set amount of time. For example, I would give myself 2 minutes to complete a set of 6 on the bench press, 10 ring dips, maybe toss some abs in there and then take some rest. Once your rest is up you start over again.
You can employ this with a set amount of time or rest in mind, or you can simply just get whatever work you’re going to do, done, then rest your allotted time. This will force you to get the work done in a timely fashion, and indeed keep that lovely intensity up.
EMOMS are a beautiful tool to cut down your rest time if you feel like you’re sitting around too much in the gym and you want to get more work in, or a decent way to push your limits. In this case you would have a set amount of work you want to do; this can be either strength work, conditioning, or both!
Related: Power Hour - The "5 Minute Meltdown" Pump n' Burn Workout
After you finish the work you’ll rest for the remainder of the minute, but as soon as that minute rolls over you better be ready for another one! For example, every minute on the minute for 10 minutes I would do a 50m sprint, 10 KB swings, and 5 push ups (or whatever you plan on doing). Once I finish I would take the remainder of the minute to rest.
These can be done every minute on the minute, every 2 minutes, every 3, whatever you want! Be wary – it may seem easy at first but it will get hard. If it starts out extremely hard and you’re barely making it through the minute, you might want to back it down a little.
The key with intervals and EMOMS is to get the work done quickly and effectively, take your rest and recover as best you can, then hit the interval again with the same amount of intensity. Ideally each set should take around the same amount of time, all out efforts.
All in all there are many ways to get some extra work in, but you got to want it. If you employ any of these I promise you it will ramp up the intensity and actually get you excited about what you’re doing. Yeah it will be tiring, but you’ll recover and be ready for more.
Find pockets of time where you can fill it with extra work, soon enough your 30-60 minutes in the gym will turn into the best and most effective time in your day, and might be that secret sauce you’re looking for if things are feeling a little bland lately.
Now get out there – it’s your set.
thanks, good suggestions! I've needed to ramp up my workouts and this is spot on.