Let's be honest here; most of us don't enjoy spending loads of time at the gym. But whether you get a kick out of being in a room full of sweaty people or not, chances are you're pretty familiar with the crowded showers and the queue for the dumbbells that take up hours of your precious time every week.
Whether you're on a fitness hype, or are a dedicated gym-goer who enjoys working out but not the gym protocol that comes with it (pls teach me your ways), we're guessing you'd love to know how you can maximise your workout but still manage to spend less time hanging around the weights and machines.
Which is where David Wiener, Training Specialist from fitness app Freeletics comes in. He shares his insider hacks for saving time at the gym with Cosmopolitan UK, so you can focus on getting the same results in less time:
1. Go early
Sounds like common sense, but if you can bear to drag yourself out of bed early you're already winning.
"Gyms are usually quieter early in the morning"
"Not only does exercising early have countless benefits (i.e. you’ll have more energy and you’ll be able to concentrate better at work), it can also be beneficial if you’re trying to save time at the gym," David says. "Gyms are usually quieter early in the morning, and this means you’ll spend less time waiting to use your favourite bit of kit."
Also, we figure that if you've managed to leave your comfy, cosy bed before you really needed to, you'll be making sure your workout was worth getting up for. It has to work, right?
2. Use your time wisely
This depends on your style of gym-going, but David recommends planning your workout beforehand, or booking a class.
"If you arrive at the gym with no plan, you’ll likely waste time thinking about what to do next, and this can reduce the quality of your workout.
"If you’re unsure where to start, fitness apps like Freeletics can guide you through a full body workout which is tailored to your individual goals and how long you’re able to spend training."
3. Make a back up plan
And on that note... "There are never any guarantees that the equipment you want to use will be free, so in addition to your planned workout, it’s a good idea to have a back up plan that you can turn to if the equipment you want to use is busy," says David.
"For example, if you’re planning to use the bench press and it’s busy, you could try even weighted push ups. Or if the stair masters are a no-go you could try doing steps ups.
"You could even substitute the treadmill for the cross trainer and vice versa as they offer a similar body mechanical movement."
4. Ace your warmup
It may seem like it's adding extra time to your workout, but warming up well will actually end up streamlining your routine in the long-run.
"Warming up before exercising is very important as it helps to prevent injury and prepare your body for the workout ahead," says David.
"A proper warm up should last between five to ten minutes, but there are clever ways to speed this up and save time. Start by foam rolling for two-three minutes followed by a quick, dynamic warm up series of mountain climbers, jumping jacks, arm and leg lifts, and hip raises."
5. Minimise distractions
David recommends keeping your phone in your bag. Honestly, no-one needs to see your weights boomerang.
"Undoubtedly the best way to save time in the gym is to minimise distractions and focus on your workout," says David. "For some this may mean exercising alone with a motivating playlist rather than a friend.
"Also, try keeping your rest periods short so you’re not tempted to waste time."
Well, go hard or go home, right?
6. Embrace supersets
In other words, smash through it.
"They may sound scary but super sets are a great way to save time and get an effective workout," says David. "In simple terms, a super set is when you do two different exercises back to back without taking a break.
"Shortening the rest period will also increase the intensity of your workout and doing more movements in a shorter space of time will equate to increased energy expenditure, upping your calorie burn."
7. HIIT it
Sweating through your t-shirt and working out so hard that you can taste copper might not sound fun, but it sure is quick and effective.
"Interval training is a great way to increase your fitness levels and calorie burn"
"High Intensity Interval Training - or HIIT as it’s better known - is the best way to save time in the gym and make sure your workouts are short, sharp and effective," says David.
"Interval training is a great way to increase your fitness levels and calorie burn, and it’s performed by alternating intense periods of physical activity with short periods of rest so that your body can recover briefly before you up the intensity again. Not only is this style of working out a great time saver, its brilliant for building endurance and boosting the metabolism."
8. Give yourself a time limit
"Setting yourself a time limit is a great way to maximise the time you spend in the gym ensuring that you make every second count," David explains. "If you find that your workouts are taking too long, set a timer and race against the clock, this will make your workouts faster and more efficient."
9. Utilise your body weight
Ditch the machines and weights and go it solo - particularly if you're new to training.
"Bodyweight training is incredibly effective, and one of the beauties of this style of training is that you don’t need any equipment, meaning you’ll spend less time waiting around to use the machines or the free weights," says David. "It’s an incredibly versatile way of training, and you don’t even need to be in the gym.
"If you’re really pushed for time you can get a quick, effective full body workout wherever you are, and whenever works best for you."
10. Make the most of underused equipment
Or, if you're really partial to having the assistance of a machine, why not try something new?
"It may vary from gym to gym, but there’s normally always a section which is underused," says David. "You can normally find a free swiss or yoga ball lying around, and you can absolutely use these to your advantage.
"Incorporating these into your workout can make your exercise regime more challenging and improve core strength. They make any movements harder to perform as your body tries to stay stable, and this in turn can accelerate results.
"If there’s no space on gym mats, find a quiet corner and try push ups, sit ups, planks or chest presses incorporating the ball. Your body will thank you."
And with all that time you've saved, you might even have chance to catch up with some pals over a glass of wine at the end of the week. Win.