It is possible to get an effective workout in 30 minutes, and only visit the gym a few times a week, if you maximize the workouts.
Disclaimer: The below tips are for those who have already been working out but want to see better results.
- Limit your workouts to 30-40 minutes. The tendency of some people, who really want results, is to spend a lot of time at the gym. The truth is that after 30 or 40 minutes, the benefit isn’t as great. It’s better to work out at a higher intensity for a shorter amount of time.
- High-intensity workouts. If you’re just starting out with exercise, it’s best to take it slow. If you’re running or cycling, for example, build up your endurance for at least a month before you get into anything more intense. That means going at a rate where you can easily talk without being out of breath. However, once you have that base of endurance, step up the intensity to step up the effectiveness of the workout.
- Protein. Many people don’t pay enough attention to getting the protein their muscles need to rebuild. If you don’t, you are going to get very little out of your workout, as both cardio and strength workouts require protein for building muscles. I recommend either whey or soy protein shakes.
- Water. Be sure to hydrate throughout the day. It takes a couple of hours for your body to absorb the water, so you can’t just drink right before exercise. Make it a habit to drink water regularly throughout the day.
- Carbs. Although the low-carb craze might say otherwise, carbs are our body’s main source of fuel. If you do intense workouts, you will need carbs, or you won’t have enough energy. If you do a shake, be sure to include carbs — or a banana is a great source of low fiber/high glycemic carbohydrates that you need for exercise.
- Slow lifting. Many people contract their muscles slowly and then release more quickly. But if you lift slowly in both directions, you are maximizing each move. Lift and lower to a 5-second count in each direction.
- Heavier weight. When you’re starting out, it’s best to start with lower weights so you can focus on good form. But once you’ve gotten your form down, it’s best to lift the heaviest weights you can lift while still keeping good form. Don’t sacrifice form for heavy weights — that is ineffective. But heavy weights, with good form, can give you better results in a shorter amount of time. Heavy weights are not just for those who want to bulk up — that’s a common misconception.
- Compound exercises. Instead of isolating your muscles with exercises such as the bicep curl, you can maximize the time you spend in a workout by doing exercises that work out multiple muscle groups at once. With just a few exercises, you could get a full-body workout. Another benefit is that your muscles are working together as they do in the real world, rather than alone. Some great compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, good mornings, lunges, pushups, bench presses, military presses, rows, pullups, dips, and more.
- Mix it up. Don’t stick to the same workout routine for too long; your body will adjust to the stress level and you won’t get an effective workout. For strength training, change your routine every few weeks. For cardio, it’s best to cross train rather than, for example, run every time.
- Circuits. One mistake that people make is to do multiple sets of the same exercise without rest between the sets. This doesn’t allow your muscles to recover and it’s a waste of your workout. Instead of doing a set, resting, and then doing your second set, move on to multiple exercises in a circuit, so that you don’t rest between exercises but do rest each muscle group. This will give you a good cardio workout while you do your strength training.