Are you crazy busy and still trying to reach your fitness/performance goals? If so, good on you! Too many people put off working out until life is not busy. The truth is that most people at the gym are busy, yet they make the time to be there. I work 4 jobs and have 4 children aged seven and under. I also work with busy clients and student athletes. I know it is possible to make great results when you are busy – IF you avoid these 10 workout mistakes you don’t have time to make.
Mistake 1: Unclear focus
Let’s face it, we all want it all (and we want it all right now). Burn fat, build muscle, get stronger, get faster, increase vertical, get more agile, improve conditioning and for fun finish an ironman triathlon – all at the same time! Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Even if you had all the time in the world, you will get better results if each block of training has one major focus.
The busier you get the more your training needs a laser-like focus. You have a limited amount of time and recovery ability You can’t afford wasting either on nice-to-have things – you need to focus on what is most important. Be ruthless. To get the best results, go back to the list above and ask yourself, for the next month, which goal do I want more than all the others.
Related: How to Train for Multiple Goals
Mistake 2: Skipping warm-ups
When you are busy it is very tempting to skip your warm-up because you don’t have time. Don’t make this mistake. Instead, change your perspective. The truth is you don’t have time to get injured. No matter how little time you have, make sure you invest the time to get ready for training so you don’t get hurt.
Mistake 3: Extended warm-ups
While skipping your warm-up can get you hurt, unnecessarily extending your warm-up is also something you can’t afford to do. Do what you need to do to have a safe, productive training session, then get training! For most people, about 5 minutes is great if you know what you are doing. The key is finding what works best for YOU.
Related: The Best Way to Warm-Up
Mistake 4: Inappropriate Splits
For the record, I’ve used everything from whole body routines to bro-style body part split routines. They all have their purpose. However, elaborate split routines are best used for folks with bodybuilding/sculpting goals who have a lot of time to train. If you can only make it to the gym 2-3 times a week, you can’t afford to devote a workout a workout to just one or two muscle groups. Here are better options:
- Whole body: all your exercises each time you train
- A/B whole body: two different routines that involve different upper and lower body exercise that you alternate each time you train
- A/B/C whole body: three different routines that involve different upper and lower body exercises
- Upper/Lower: upper body movements on session, lower the next
- Push/Pull: pushing upper body movements with lower body hip/hamstrings and pulling upper body movements the next time with lower body squat/lunge movements
Mistake 5: Inferior exercise selection
Not all exercises are created equal. Make sure the ones you pick are the very best of the best for you and your goals. Before you spend another minute in the gym, go through this simple activity. It is 10-minute investment that will save you countless hours of unproductive training. Click HERE for details.
Mistake 6: Failing to divide exercises into “mandatory” and “optional”
One you know your top 10 exercises, that doesn’t mean you can’t do others. Most training programs are enhanced when some wisely-chosen accessory exercises are added to a handful of big-bang movements. However, you need to know your nice-to-do’s vs. your “must do’s” when you hit the gym. This can quickly allow you to slash you training down on days when you are extra-pressed for time.
Mistake 7: In-efficient layout
Most people in gyms do straight sets. This means they stay on one exercise until they are done all their sets before they move on. While this works, it is not very time efficient. Instead look for ways to group exercises together. If you group non-interfering exercises together, you can slash your training time down.
Here are 3 examples:
Example 1: Push/Pull
1a) Upper body pulling exercise (e.g. rows)
1b) Upper body pressing exercise (e.g. bench press)
Example 2: Upper/Lower
1a) Lower body exercise (e.g. squats)
1b) Upper body exercise (e.g. lunges)
Example 3: Total body
(I learned this from Chad Waterbury)
1a) Upper body pulling exercise
1b) Upper body pressing exercise
1c) Leg exercise
Note: this does not mean that you move immediately from one exercise to the next like a superset. This seem fast, but your other exercise(s) will suffer from the systematic fatigue created by the first exercise.
Related: The Many Uses of Circuit Training
Mistake 8: Spending too much time in the “dead zone”
One of the hardest and most draining zones to train in is the lactic acid system. These are sets that last 30sec to 3minutes. While they can be helpful at times, these bouts are brutal to recover from. If life is crazy, stick to either side of this system. Keep most of your sets 20 seconds or less in the gym and you will enjoy better recovery and steady gains. Also, include some low-intensity work like outdoor brisk walking for health, stress relief and recovery.
Mistake 9: Failing to flick your recovery switch
For most folks, the second they finish their last set, they are heading out the door for the next thing on their to-do list. Remember that exercise is nothing more than a stress that signals the body to change. However, it is during your recovery that your body actually makes these good changes happen. When your workout is done, make sure you tell your body.
Mistake 10: Not prioritizing sleep & nutrition
While your sleep and nutrition may be far from ideal when you are busy, it must be as close to ideal as you can reasonably make it. Avoid the late-night Netflix marathons and ensure you are investing some time for meal prep and sleep – it will make a HUGE difference.
I wish you all the best with your training and hope you catch a break soon!
How about you? I welcome your comments and/or questions below or on my Facebook Page.
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