4 Proven Ways To Maximize Your Gym Time

John Matulevich helps you to improve your results by incorporating non-competing supersets, standing exercise variations, HIIT cardio and (more) potent compound movements.

From using more productive workouts to getting into and out of the gym faster, there are always ‘tweaks’ you can make to your training that can help you achieve more than you might have thought possible. As a strength and conditioning coach, I’m continually running into new ways to do just that—achieve a greater level of workout efficiency.

Tips and tricks to help you improve your results often come from some surprising sources. In this series of articles, I plan on showing you how to maximize your gym time based upon experiences I’ve had with my clients and in my own training.

1. Limit Seated Exercises

Most people already spend too much time sitting. We sit during our morning commute, then for 8 hours at work, again while driving home, and then again in front of the television to relax at night. Doing more exercise from a standing position will not only help to realign poor posture caused by sitting, but will also involve more muscle tissue activation.

Next time you're at the gym, try replacing some of your seated exercises with standing variations. For example, you could try standing lateral raises or military presses instead of seated raises and presses.

Another benefit of standing exercise is that by working with fewer points of contact, your training will be slightly less stable. Two points of ground contact during a standing overhead press is inherently less stable than having four points during a seated military press.

So when you return to performing a seated exercise variation, you may be surprised to find that you can handle more weight than before.

2. Use Compound Movements

No matter the article topic, you’ll always find this point mentioned because it’s so important. When trying to maximize the time you’re spending at the gym, you’ll want to choose exercises that target the most amount of muscle.

Big compound movements like the bench press, squat, row or deadlifts will target more muscle mass than smaller isolation exercises. This leads to more progress in the gym, thereby helping you to hit your goals more quickly.

Make sure to start your workout with a compound movement or variation. Your energy levels are highest when you first get to the gym, so it's best to perform exercises that are the most energy-taxing. Get in the gym and perform these compound movements right away.

This will also serve to ‘pre-exhaust’ major and minor muscle groups, which will help you hit them harder later on during the workout.

Maximize your gym time

Instead of sitting around between sets texting or just generally wasting time, try using supersets to get more work done in a shorter period of time.

3. Try High Intensity Forms of Cardio

Cardio machines can be the biggest time-consumers of them all. If you’re trying to reduce time in the gym, one way to do so is to make your cardio sessions more efficient.

Many people think they need to grind out miles on treadmills, or cycle for extended periods of time, to gain a cardiovascular benefit. This doesn’t need to be.

You can achieve great cardiovascular health in ways that are far less time consuming. Exercises such as sprints or weighted sled pushes can get your heart racing in just a few short minutes.

One of my preferred methods of cardio is a called tabata training. Tabata consists of 20 second all-out bursts of intensity followed by a 10 second period of active recovery, usually repeated for 6-8 rounds. This will get your heart rate up, as well as help you build muscle. Tabata also speeds up recovery by promoting blood flow.

Some of my favorite exercises to do when performing tabata sets are sprints, battling popes, cycle ergometer, and rowing machines.

4. Superset Exercises

Instead of sitting around between sets texting or just generally wasting time, try using supersets to get more work done in a shorter period of time.

When I have an athlete waiting to do the next set of their main movement, I will have them perform a non-competing exercise. Usually I program exercises that are:

A.) Not too demanding (which would tire them out for the main exercise), and

B.) Will not interfere with the main movement.

An exercise I may superset to help encourage active recovery is the dumbbell overhead press. I will use it in between sets of squats. I also occasionally use step-ups between sets of bench presses.

Wrap up

These are just some of the many things I do with my clients and in my own training. You can apply them to your workouts immediately. Be sure to look for upcoming articles on this topic. I will provide more insider tips that will help you maximize your time.

Also, if you are looking for a great way to get into and out of the gym quickly, check out my Density Giant Set Training, as well as my Density Giant Set Training v2.0 workouts. They are available for free here on MuscleAndStrength.com, and were designed specifically to add muscle and cut fat with minimal time in the gym.