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Four options for increasing your workout efficiency

Want to maximize the effectiveness of your workout, but short on time? Here are four tips to get the most out of your workout program in the least amount of time.

First make sure you are using compound movements. A compound movement is an exercise that works across two joints which causes your body to recruit more than one muscle group. Working two or more muscle groups at the same times has two direct results that improve efficiency. You burn more calories and you directly tone more muscles in the same amount of time. Examples of compound movements include the chest press, lat pulldowns and squats.

The second tip involves replacing your traditional cardio with interval training. Rather than plodding along at a steady pace for 30 minutes or more, try short bursts of more intense work with periods of less intense work. Manipulate the intervals based on your fitness level. There has been a lot of research that demonstrates this type of interval training burn calories more effectively that traditional cardio training.

Beginners should stay with a 1:2 work to rest ratio. Meaning 1 minute of intense training should be followed by 2 minutes of rest. Continue to manipulate the work to rest intervals as your fitness level improves. Intermediate level might be a 1:1 ratio. Advanced training might be 2:1 where maximum intensity is maintained for a minute with only 30 seconds of lower intensity. The exact duration of the intervals is a matter of personal preference. What matters is adjusting the ratio of work to rest relative to your fitness level.

The third option is to reduce down time between sets by pairing antagonist muscle groups. Antagonists are muscle groups that work opposite each other. Most people waste a lot of time between sets resting the muscles they just worked. Become more efficient by working a muscle group’s antagonists in that down time. Some common examples would be pairing over head presses with lat pull downs, chest presses with rowing movements or leg extensions with leg curls. This tweak will also allow you to increase your calorie burn and tone more of your body faster.

The final suggestion is to use the time between sets to stretch or foam roll. The benefit here is about making your regimen well rounded. The benefits of lengthening muscle and making the soft tissue more pliable cannot be overstated. Everyone needs to add stretching and foam rolling to their programming, but fail to do so because of the additional time commitment. Working key stretches and foam rolling in between sets, may be the best way get the benefit without losing precious time.

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