Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Time Efficient Training Part 2

Last time in part 1 of this post, I gave you my definition of what time efficient training and 7 tips to help you maximize your training efficiency. Here are 7 more:

As review, here are the first 7:

1. Pick the best exercises
2. Take the time to learn to do the best exercises correctly
3. Avoid combo exercises
4. Group exercises effectively
5. Consider set-up & clean-up time when selecting exercises
6. Wisely program accessory work
7. Do not be afraid of rest

And now for the rest:

8. Work hard, not long
There's an old saying in the training world, “you can work hard or you can work long.” In the case of time efficient training, since you don't have time to work long, you have to work hard. (Please do not mistake me for some type of “one-set to failure is all you need” guy). It is human nature to go longer rather than harder, but harder is what most people need to get better. Really ensure that you are putting full effort into your training. Be smart, but work hard!

9. Keep a training log and seek performance improvement
Logging your training sessions is an essential part of efficient training. While this should be obvious for performance training, I believe it is also extremely important for us to training. Progressive changes to the barbell lead to progressive changes with the body. Every training session should involve logging this session as you go (do not do this afterward as you do not have time anyways and you lose accuracy thus defeating the whole purpose) and referring back on previous sessions to set goals for the current one.

10. Don’t warm-up – prepare for the session
While there are still too many people who skip the warm-ups, many people mistakenly think that sitting in a slouched position on an exercise bike while zoning out with the gym TV’s is a great way to start a workout.

A better way to spend the first 5-10 minutes of a training session is with proper physical preparation. This can include: foam roller, gentle calisthenics, dynamic mobility, static stretching for problem spot and even some balance and power training. In about 10 minutes you can not only get warm, but take care of a lot of other important things while better preparing yourself for the session ahead.

11. Do interval cardio
I know most of you will know this, but as a reminder, interval training is the most time-efficient form of “cardio” you can do. It is generally better for performance improvement and for fat loss. A 10-20 minute session of intervals will accomplish at lot more than a 30-40 minute jog.

12. Stretch between sets or night before bed
When the things most commonly neglected when someone is busy is the flexibility component. While stretching after other forms of exercise is good, it is not essential and may not be practical for the busy person. Please note, I am not advocating a total neglect of some type of cool-down as this can be dangerous for venous pooling).

Lately I've been programming stretching into the training session. To do this without negatively impacting the workout (as stretching a muscle before training it can reduce strength and power), I pair stretch for a short or stiff muscle with a strengthening exercise for the opposite muscle. For example, I might program a chest stretch paired with the scapula retraction (e.g. row) exercise or a hip flexor stretch between sets of a hip extension exercise. This the only saves me time but improves the strengthening of the muscle trained (short/stiff/overactive muscles neurological “shutting off” of the opposing muscle).

A great time for stretching is at night before bed. Take a warm shower, do some foam rolling and then do some gentle stretching exercises before you hop into bed. Not only does this get the stretching done, but you often find that you fall asleep so much faster.  As a result you take the time that you would have spent trying to fall asleep and use that time for stretching - how's that for time efficiency!?

13. Set time limits
This is another effective tip for both the time crunched trainee and a trainer. After you know how much time you can realistically commit to training, break that time down into blocks. For example, let’s say someone has 45 minutes:
  • Training prep phase: 5 minutes
  • Strength Training: 20 minutes
  • Intervals: 15 minutes
  • Cool-down/stretch/minor accessories: 5 minutes
14. Fully engage in training
As I mentioned in introduction, many people make the mistake of trying to multi-task their workouts. A better approach is to allot a time for training and give the training session your full, undivided, 100% focus. Then when you are done, get on with the rest of your life. As a result, your results will go up while your risk of injury will go down. This is especially true for those who are at the intermediate and advanced stages of training.

Well, there you go. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to maximizing your training efficiency.

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