We all know that fitting in a workout isn't always easy. Between jobs, kids, spouses, friends and downtime, it can be tough to work up the motivation to get yourself moving. So when you do hit the gym, your number one priority should be taking full advantage of the time you have there.
While your fitness efforts may be paying off when you look in the mirror, chances are you could be getting the same—if not better—results in a shorter amount of time if you cut out exercise time-wasters. Here are the top five to trim from your routine.
Getting too much rest
It's true that your muscles should get a bit of rest in between intense workouts, but sitting idly on the machine or standing around the water fountain isn't doing you any favors. Instead, Jennifer Beaton, vice president of fitness for Bay Club, an operator of luxury athletic clubs and sports resorts in California, recommends separating your exercises into muscle-specific moves. That way, while you do a set for one muscle group, your other groups are resting. Or, do cardio in between to burn more calories and promote muscle recovery.
Watching TV or reading
It might make working out more bearable, but watching TV or reading while you sweat it out can make your workouts longer, because you could go easy on yourself while you're focused on these activities. For example, 45 minutes spent at a steady pace on the treadmill while you catch up on the latest bestseller is OK, but you could spend half that time if you focus on walking, jogging or running and do high-intensity intervals every couple of minutes.
Chatting with friends
The buddy system is a great way to stay motivated, but it's important to keep your socializing to a minimum when you're getting down to business. You might not achieve your maximum cardio potential if you're trying to save enough breath to tell your pal about your latest life happenings. Isolate the chitchat to warm-ups and cool-downs.
Using the wrong form
No matter how much time you spend doing exercises and how much energy you exert while you're at them, you're wasting your time if you're doing the moves incorrectly. If you don't have the right form, you could be hurting or straining your muscles, and you're probably not getting the benefits you think you are. Do some research online and watch a few videos to learn the proper methods, or ask a trainer at your gym for a demo.
Doing too many reps
It might seem like doing 20, 40 or 60 reps on a weight machine is a good idea, but you can get better results quicker if you just increase the weight you're using. If you're using the proper amount of weight, you shouldn't be able to do that many reps. Anywhere from eight to 15 reps is standard for general muscle conditioning. If you feel like you could do more, add weight.