If there’s one complaint I often hear, it’s that people don’t have the “time” to workout. Well if such is the case with you, all I have to say is "I'm sorry, I didn't realize your health wasn't a priority.”
There’s a misconception that to work out hard, your workouts also need to be long. Well, that’s completely wrong. Most people are surprised when I tell them that the amount of time I devote to lifting is 45 minutes, every other day. Yup, you read that correctly. If you streamline your workouts and take your program seriously, you should be spending less than 3 hours at a gym every week.
Ok, so how does one streamline their workouts? Well, here are five easy changes to make below:
1. Stop doing “cardio” – If you’re a “cardio junkie” then you probably want to punt your computer at the mere suggestion that most treadmill/elliptical/bike work is pretty inefficient. Why? When you walk into your average gym, what do you see? People on machines, watching TV, instead of actually, you know…working out.
That’s not to say that steady state cardio doesn’t have its place. But, if you’re short on time, there’s nothing more effective than lifting weights to raise your metabolism both during and after your workout. Plus, if you’re the type that always runs/bikes, you’re already filling that entire bucket. Instead, you need is to fill up your “strength” bucket by getting after it with heavy weights.
Sidenote: if you don’t think that lifting weights will get your heart pumping and tap into your aerobic energy system, then you probably haven’t actually lifted heavy weights.
2. Make your warm up your correctives – I’m a realist, and I know that about 95% of people don’t really “warm up” before actually working out. Maybe it’s due to some ambiguity around the term “warm up,” or maybe it’s due to laziness...but it needs to end. When I talk about warming up, I mean that you should be wet with sweat before you even touch a weight.
Yet, most people believe that “warming up” is running on the treadmill for 10 minutes, maybe doing some light stretching (which is silly, since you probably don’t need it), and calling yourself warm. Instead, you should be working on your weaknesses, and tailoring your workout to the actual work you’re about to perform. If you have shoulder mobility problems, you can start by doing some mobility work, and locking that in with stability (check out my “Cranky Shoulder” series if you need some ideas). Then, I’d recommend doing a few Turkish Get-ups to really lock in that shoulder stability, and benefiting from all the elements the TGU will ultimately give you. Doing this type of warm up will better prepare you for your workout, and you'll perform better during your lift.
3. Program around the masses – This one is pretty simple, and I like to call it the anti-brogram. That’s right…the anti-bro program. What does that mean? Instead of benching on Mondays (because Monday is always bench day), you deadlift or squat. Maybe this also means staying clear of the gym on Monday, and going on Fridays when you know the equipment you need will be clear. This way, you’ll be able to get right to your lift, instead of reacting like this when you’re bench is snatched up right before your eyes:
4. Superset a strength set
with mobility work – The theory behind this idea is to use your recovery as an active
rest. For instance, after a set of
deadlifts, work on your ankle mobility by doing this. Or, after set of bench, work on your t-spine
mobility. The idea is that you’re using
your active rest to recover from your big strength set. Not only will this
strategy keep your heart rate high, but it will be focusing on aspects that
will improve your performance.
5. Only “bang for your buck” lifts – A few months ago I was working out in a commercial gym when I saw a guy and his girlfriend work their biceps....for 45 minutes. That’s right, they did nothing but various bicep curls the entire time I was working out. While part of me wanted to intervene, I decided to let him keep sailing on his brotastic voyage, as I didn’t want to be “that guy.”
That incident made me realize how much fluff many individuals have in their programs. The reason I’m able to keep my entire program to 45 minutes is because I only stick to what’s going to give me the largest impact. I heard somewhere that 20% of your efforts are responsible for 80% of your results. Sticking to that principle, my workout yesterday was only three exercises: trap bar deadlift, kettlebell overhead press, and weighted inverted rows. That’s it. Get in, get out, and get huge.