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How To Maximize Your Strength Training Time

April 9, 2014
Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

You know how important it is to work strength training into your fitness regimen, but with such a busy lifestyle, you often find yourself putting it on the back burner.

Of course, knowing that as we age we need to incorporate more weight-bearing exercise into the mix is challenging.

It is a wonder we make it to the gym at all, even for a treadmill run or a stint on the elliptical machine.

It certainly seems like a good round of cardio should suffice, but alas, our bodies want and need what they want and need, and you have to abide.

Your bones and muscles command it, and you don’t want to find yourself limping along as early as in your 50s and beyond dealing with fragile bones, aching hips and knee replacements. The earlier you get ahead of the ravages of time on your bones, the better off and happier you will stay throughout the aging process.

All of this probably sounds like a session of “Scared Straight: The Fitness Edition,” and maybe it is. The truth is that you can make time now or make greater sacrifices in your health later.

What strength training is not for you

Part of the problem might lie in your ideas about what strength training includes and how much time it takes. If you are thinking about bodybuilders and weight lifters who want to create an aesthetic look or who are training for fitness competitions, you need to release those thoughts right away.

Your goals have nothing to do with any of the principles involved with that sport. Right away, that should help.

What strength training is for you

As a mere mortal who wants to add some strength training to bolster your bone mass and add some stability for running, swimming, cycling and other sports that you enjoy, your strength training program will be less arduous and time consuming than you imagine.

The most important part of creating your strength training program is creating something that you understand, with movements you can safely and correctly perform, and can continue on your own and build on as you progress.

Whether you choose to hire a personal trainer, consult a book or streaming videos, find a reliable source that shows you how to do each exercise.

Actually, if you are an absolute beginner in the gym, you might benefit greatly from hiring a personal trainer, at least temporarily, who can watch you perform each exercise and help you make corrections to avoid potential undue soreness, or worse, injury.

Mix it up and maximize your strength training time

Once you have built up stock of exercises, you can start whittling your time in the gym, whether on your own or with a trainer. Of course, with a trainer, you can ask that they help you reach this goal. On your own, though, here are some tips to get you moving swiftly through your workout, out the gym door and into the whirlwind of your life outside the gym.

Minimize rest and move quickly between upper body exercises and lower body exercises

With this tack, you keep your body guessing, your heart rate revved up and you save a lot of time. Instead of resting or stretching between steps, you are using every possible moment and making it count.

Compound exercises create practical strength and fantastic efficiency

When you combine a side lunge while doing bicep curls with a barbell, you are sparking so many benefits. The fact is, we rarely use only one muscle at a time, so it makes sense to combine exercises to train our muscles to work in tandem. Also, by doing compound exercises, you can do half the work in half the time with all the strength training benefits.

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