As Steven Covey mentions in his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit #4 is to sharpen the saw. You will not be successful cutting a tree down with a blunt saw. Take some time before you start, to sharpen the saw. You will have the tree down much faster and will have used less energy.
This principle can be used also in terms of exercising.
It is possible to get better results in less time with an efficient work out plan. The following tips are directed towards those of you who have a base knowledge of work outs and can identify what strength and cardio training is. Content here is meant as a guide only and are not a substitute for professional advice.
Here are my top tips to prepare you to build more efficient workouts.
- Know what to do. Making a more efficient workout plan will require a restructure of your current habits and workout routine – most likely. Either write yourself a workout plan on paper or work with an exercise professional to really get the best individual advice on building a more efficient workout. After all, we are all different and consulting an exercise professional or a fitness trainer will potentially give you a workout best suited to your needs and goals. I highly recommend staying away from the ’10 weeks to bikini body’ type workout fads – as they are not individualised what so ever and will burn you out. Seek professional advice, especially if you are starting out on your workout journey.
- Know why you are doing it. Take 5 minutes to sit down with a pen and paper and write down WHY you exercise and what you want to achieve. Set a goal to work towards.
- Mix your strength training up and do high intensity strength training. That is, reduce your rest period so that your heart rate remains high for the entirety of your workout This is a great time saver and it also gives you a cardio session to really maximise your metabolic rate and give a more efficient workout.
- Be consistent. The more you practice the habit of doing more efficient workouts, you will get better at it! Have consistency in the time of day you exercise and the plan you follow while maintaining a variety of exercise sessions. Ask an exercise professional to write an efficient workout plan for you and this hassle will be removed. My Travel Workout Book will also be a great help here.
- Do sets to failure. For weight training, instead of doing each set with 8-12 reps (for example) pick a weight which you will most likely go failure with after around 15 reps. For more efficient body weight exercises, pick full body exercises which you will go to failure within your set time period (maybe 40-60 seconds as in My Travel Workout Book). This builds more effective workouts as you push your muscles harder and can get similar results with doing less sets, hence, less time and increased efficiency.
- Do compound exercises that workout multiple muscle groups. For example instead of doing a bicep curl, do a bent over row as you will work your biceps as well as important muscles across you back and shoulders – all in 1 go! Do your bent over row with a single leg deadlift to even make an even more efficient workout.
- Challenge the exercises you do. To make your workout more efficient you could make some exercises into a balance exercise. E.g. sit on a swiss ball instead of a chair for a shoulder press. Do bent over row combined with a single leg straight leg deadlift to turn it into a full body exercise (as previously mentioned).
- Cardio as a high intensity workout: you can mix up your cardio in all kinds of fun and fabulous ways. Do fartlek training, or run intervals on an oval. You can add in hills. Raise your heart rate higher to push your body further. A high intensity interval may vary between 60-5 minutes and is followed by intermittent rest intervals of maybe 10-120 seconds.
- Circuit training. Instead of doing 3-5 sets of one exercise and then move onto the next, alternate between exercises. This keeps your heart rate high and maximised your energy output and your metabolic rate during and after exercise. It is also a huge time saver for those time conscious people wanting a more efficient workout. Try to alternate the body parts worked to allow muscles a short rest – e.g. do a leg exercise after an upper body exercise, followed by a core exercise.
- Limit your workouts to no more than 40 minutes. This forces you to do all the exercises in a certain time, thus, making for a more efficient workout.
- Talk to your exercise professional to get a program suited to your busy lifestyle. I can give you tips-galore here, but in reality, 1 tip doesn’t work in the same way for everybody, especially when we are talking about building you a more efficient workout. Everyone will need an individual efficient workout plan made specifically for their needs, time availability, fitness level and their exercise goals. I cannot stress this enough.
- Plan your meals surrounding your workout time. Try to eat a small amount of high protein and carbohydrate foods about 30 minutes before your workout. Also, eating within 30 minutes after your workout is the best time to have more efficient recovery. Make it part of your efficient workout routine to include a nutritious meal.
- Only do an exercise mode that you enjoy! Going for a run when you hate running will possibly reduce how efficient you are after your workout. Do an activity you enjoy and you will be happier and more efficient for more of the day.
- Focus on performing the exercise well with good form. If you have bad form during both strength and cardio exercise you will not have the most efficient workout possible. To maximise workout efficiency; increase your metabolic rate (burn more fat), tone muscles and to ensure you do not predispose yourself to injury, ensure you have good technique for all exercises. Ask an exercise professional to check up on your techniques.
- Be inventive in your workouts when traveling. When traveling, a great way to do more efficient workouts is to combine your exercise with an activity. Maybe you will run to the major attractions at your destination, or hire a bike and get some slow cardio for the day.
16. Multitask while doing your workout. Listen to a podcast, an audio book or something of interest to you while working out. As EddiBee is about being better and challenging yourself, I have added this in here so you really can use time for a more efficient workout. Do you sit on a stationary bike and cycle? Use this time to catch up on your fave movies or read a book. Once you have learnt the exercises in your workout, you should be able to find a method to educate yourself while working out. Learn, get fit and be happy – Multitasking at its best!
So there were my tips for building yourself a more efficient workout plan. If you want to find more about ‘sharpening the saw’ and ways you can become more effective in your daily lives, check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. it is well worth the read!
Don’t forget to leave your thought and comments in the comment section below and share this post with your friends who could do with shorter, more efficient workouts!