We spend a large chunk of our day in ‘junk time’ and when I took young elite football players in commercial gyms I noticed that many people don’t use their time there effectively. So there is a lot of wasted time in the gyms for the majority of people. I think that this is one of the major reasons why gym conditioning modes like CrossFit have taken off: that people feel they get value for time expenditure in that the programs are intense and they workout with a group within a certain time.
To get most out of your time expenditure it is best to keep your workouts short and within a certain time frame, so circuits using whole-body movements give you the best value or your time. The circuits do not need to use many exercises either. You can use as little as three to four exercises to gain a complete body workout. I must admit to going on about not needing to split the body up into different segments as this doesn’t translate into natural movements, but the reason for this I think is very valid: that unless you are doing a specific competitive body building routine or for any other strength sport (or even a rehabilitative program for that matter), exercises that work a specific body parts are a waste of time.
So you should have a workout setup something like this –
- Warm up doing a few calisthenics or a moving Yoga routine and/or working your Core. I have stated before that working your Core exercises first prepares the body and mind for developing the right tension. This part of the workout only needs to be 5 – 10 minutes maximum.
- Do a circuit using mostly whole body exercises. You can do 3 – 6 circuits using 3 – 10 exercises and in almost continuous motion. (This routine would be too intense for beginner trainers who would need a certain amount of rest between exercises and this would also depend upon the individual as to how much rest.) Keep this part of your workout within 30 minutes and be strict with this.
- The cool down should consist of no more than 5 – 10 minutes of slow stretches (20-second holds). Use a series of stretches that work the tense parts of your body – but stretch the whole body. You can start with stretches of the neck and work down to your legs. Use this pattern if you want to keep it formal. I do change this for clients who lack time or energy (if they are into multi sports for example) and get them to stretch the spine as a priority – using just three stretches that may combine stretching several parts of the body in each stretch.
- So the whole routine can be done within 45 minutes. Then you can get on with the rest of your life. You are also not exhausted….in fact, after you have a shower, you should feel energized – otherwise you have overdone it.
There is scientific evidence that spending more than 45 minutes on your routine is counterproductive, even for the most advanced resistance trainer.