A lot of time is wasted in the gym and in my reality it is one of the most common forms of procrastination I know! I don’t mean that you shouldn’t spend time in the gym as I must have wasted an enormous amount of time there over the last 55 years if that were the case…what I mean is that the majority of people don’t get value for the time spent there. Admittedly a good percentage of people who use commercial gyms particularly, use it as part of their social life, but they would be best to spend that time in more convivial places?
You should only need to spend a maximum of three hours a week at the gym over three one-hour time slots. This time should be broken down into segments of showering and changing, warmup, cool down and the rest of the time (20 – 40 minutes) actually working out on your resistance program. Physiologically, if you spend more time than 40 minutes on resistance training you don’t get any more value from the extra time and effort…in fact it is counterproductive as measured by an Australian university!
The warmup should consist mostly of calisthenics or a Yoga warmup – or any mode of movement that actually warms the body up and uses similar movement patterns as the resistance program you are about to do. Personally I cheat a bit with this and I also get my clients to use this part of the program doing specific abdominal strengthening exercises. The reason for this is because many people who leave these exercises until the end of their routine will skip them through lack of energy, or some other excuse when I consider it one of the most important parts of the resistance program…that and it prepares the body better than any exercise segment I know for the more ‘heavy duty’ exercises. So if you are doing these exercises properly they work the whole body. As I have stated before, the best exercises to do are – any variation of Planks, any variation of Side Bridges and the McGill Curlup in particular.
Your main exercises should consist of movements that combine the main muscle groups of the whole body and move through the three planes of direction. So the body is used as a unit and you don’t need to waste your time on exercises that isolate specific muscle groups unless you have a specific need to do so (i.e. you have a Rehab component within your program). Even if you are doing a specific upper body exercise, such as Pull-ups or Pressups, you need to develop whole-body tension if you are doing the exercise properly. So Bodybuilding exercises should be done by those people who compete in that sport, not by the majority of gym goers.
Don’t waste your time and energy by doing the same routine for more than 6 weeks. Better to change your routine every 4 weeks. There are several reasons for this. One is boredom in doing the same thing over and over again, which will result in lack of long term compliance to a resistance program (or any program for that matter). The second reason is that there will be a lack of impetus in the progress you desire to make in not changing the routine. The third reason is one that many people would not think of perhaps in that you are more likely to suffer repetitive strain injuries if your movement pattern in specific exercises are faulty, particularly if you don’t constantly change the exercises you are using.
This last point brings to mind one of the main reasons why people waste their time in the gym. It has been measured that you will make four times the progress if you use a qualified personal trainer than if you go it alone in the gym, particularly at the start of your resistance program.
So don’t sit on a machine and gaze at the TV monitor…go to the gym with a specific purpose in mind; work out with the correct program designed for your specific needs; gain professional help to start and keep you on the right path – then get out and get on with the rest of your life…
Life is for living, not thinking about…