Want to make every minute count? Get more from your gym membership by following these time-saving strategies.


Keen to start sweating?Don’t even think aboutworking out beforeyou’ve warmed up!Data shows that 24per cent of us skip the pre-workout ritual,but limbering up is a must if you want toperform at your best. ‘People don’t realisethat a warm-up and cool-down can makeor break a session,’ says Rachel Chatham,personal trainer and co-organiser ofBe:FIT ( ‘Start everyworkout with dynamic stretchingmovements, warming up the body gentlyand increasing mobility.’ This will boostcore temperature, jump-start brain-to-muscle communication, lubricate jointsand get you in the zone for working out.And don’t forget to stretch at the end– this will help reduce your injury risk, too.



Downsize the length oftime you spend strengthtraining by workingmultiple muscles atonce. Compound moves (those that workseveral muscle groups at a time) offermore bang for your exercise buck.‘Rather than waste time on isolation (singlemuscle) moves, learn the big compoundexercises such as the deadlift, front squatand push press,’ says Richard Tidmarsh,strength & conditioning coach and founderof reach fitness ( ‘Thesemoves use every muscle group in yourbody and will add lean tissue and torchbody fat when you can execute them well.These are technical moves that can takea bit of time to get to grips with, so seekexpert advice to do them correctly.


Resistance machines,such as the leg pressor the lat pulldown, aregreat for ensuring youperform moves with good form, but theycan get a bit ho-hum if you simply gothrough the motions. ‘Be creative to getthe best out of what’s available to you,’advises Kellie Barnett, PT and Bio-Synergynutrition ambassador (‘Trydoing supersets (when you do an exercisethat works one muscle group followedby an exercise that works the opposingmuscle group), or drop sets (doingsubsequent sets with a light weight whenyour muscles fail using a heavy weight).A final option is to perform circuits: find aminimum four machines that work differentmuscle groups and do the moves back toback.’ The trick is to exercise outside yourcomfort zone to reap rewards.


Love spending hours onthe treadmill? Clockingample time on cardio kitmay give you braggingrights but, unless you’re training for anendurance event, two hours of aerobicexercise isn’t the best way to get results.‘Stop wasting hours on the rower or bike,working at less than 50 per cent of yourworkout capacity!’ suggests Chatham.‘Crank up the intensity by doing intervalsprints. And don’t forget to think outsideof the box – sure, you can jog on thetreadmill, but why not try doing mountainclimbers with hands on the floor (google it),or set the machine to its slowest pace andhold a steady squat walk?’ Be creative withyour workouts and shape-up results willcome that little bit quicker!


Group exercise classesare great for boostingfitness, bringing out yourinner competitor withinstructor-led activity. But if you’re alwaysleaving a group workout feeling like youcould have tried harder, you may need toreassess your approach. ‘No matter whatkind of day you’ve had, you must be inthe right mindset,’ says Kaya Cansfield,a Psycle London instructor ( ‘If you are a regular who feelsmotivated by being at the front of theclass, go there. If you’re new to the class,take a step back as the front row can beintimidating.’ Consider wearing a heart ratemonitor to check that you’re working atthe right intensity. And follow the trainer’sinstructions – you’re only kidding yourselfif you slow down when you should bespeeding up, or skip a repetition.


Thinking about hiringa personal trainer toget you into shape?Fantastic – data showsthat those who seek expert exercise advicereap greater results than those who don’t.But if you want to stretch your personaltraining pounds even further, have a plan.‘In order to get the most from a personaltrainer’s expertise, it’s important that youalways have your personal objectives at theforefront of every workout,’ says Chatham.‘Make sure you go into every session witha goal [such as lifting more weight than lastweek].’ It’s also worth warming up beforethe session if you want to eek more hardwork out of the time you’ve got together.


Be careful not to undoany hard work you’vedone in the gym bygorging on unhealthyfood after you exercise. Before reachingfor a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar,consider what your body really needs torecover. ‘It’s so important to refuel wiselyafter a workout to get the best resultsfrom exercise,’ says Chatham. ‘You needa nutrient-dense dish with a mix of proteinand carbohydrates to help your bodyrecover after exercise. I work out in themorning, so my go-to refuel is eggs andavocado on rye.’ Other options includenatural yoghurt and fruit, or a chickensandwich. Don’t forget to rehydrate withwater, and remember that recovery drinksand shakes can be high in sugar.


Can’t stand waiting touse gym kit? Equipmentqueues can form duringpeak hours, but don’twait until kit becomes available – plan yourentire workout around one piece of gear.‘If you train with versatile kit such as abarbell, you’ll have no waiting time onceyou’re on it,’ says Chris Magee, fitnessexpert at Another Space ( ‘This lack of dead time betweenmovements will give your workout a greatercardio and fat-burning capability, as resttime is greatly decreased.’ Alternatively,have back-up moves in mind for when kit isbeing used. Want to use the leg press? Trydumbbell squats instead. Or swap barbelldeadlifts for kettlebell deadlifts. Easy.

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