How many times have you skipped a workout because you think you need at least an hour to get in a good sweat?
Even though you may not be alone with this thinking, you couldn't be more wrong. Nothing magical happens at the 60-minute mark that suddenly makes your workout incredible. Plus, you'll be much more likely to skip a workout if you don't have that full hour to dedicate to it.
Now that we debunked that myth, let's talk about how to make your workouts shorter and more efficient.
The basic concept of an efficient workout relies on duration and intensity. Essentially, as the duration of your workout decreases, the intensity must increase if you want a more efficient workout. Think: quality over quantity. You could walk for hours and hours to lose weight, but wouldn't you rather do a high-intensity workout for just 30-minutes instead? Over time, try shortening your one-hour workouts by 10 minutes at a time while simultaneously ramping up the intensity until you get to the 30-minute mark.
Here are two easy ways to increase intensity:
Compound vs Isolated
Isolated exercises are exercises that work one muscle or joint, while compound exercises work multiple muscle groups or joints at the same time. When working on a weaker muscle or an injured area, it makes sense to isolate the muscle until it catches up to the stronger muscles around it. However, if you're not injured, and looking for ways to ramp up the intensity, try compound movements, which are more effective for burning calories and building overall strength. For example, instead of using a leg extension machine to work the quadriceps, try a squat or leg press to work the quads, glutes and hamstrings all in one movement. By working three major muscle groups instead of one, you've just tripled your efficiency!
Have a Plan
If you're walking into the gym without a plan, you're likely going to waste a lot of time thinking about what to do. Having a specific plan in mind will lessen down time in between exercises, and ultimately cut down on your total workout time. When creating a workout plan, try working the largest muscle groups first, before targeting the smaller muscle groups. This will ensure that you don't tire out some of the smaller muscle groups that assist the larger muscle groups in compound movements. For example, push-ups work the chest, shoulders, and triceps. If you fatigue your triceps before attempting your first push-up, you won't perform the exercise properly and your chest won't reap the full benefits.
Remember, the term "high intensity" is different for everyone. The important thing is to find out what that means for you. If you're not ready for sprints, burpees, and box jumps, don't worry; just pick exercises that will challenge your level of fitness. By making your workouts more efficient and spending less time in the gym, you'll have more free time and you'll be less likely to skip workouts.