5 Hacks to Spend Less Time in The Gym (Without Sacrificing Results)

5 Hacks to Spend Less Time in The Gym (Without Sacrificing Quality) 

Author Image Ash May Training Nutrition

By Ash May

You know how important it is to regularly exercise. 

We all do. 

But we also all have other important commitments which take up more time than we’d like. 

This leads to a lot of people struggling to get into the gym each week for the amount of sessions, and amount of time which they think is necessary to see a change in their health and physique. 

You work 40 hours + every week, you have to cook dinner, see your friends, spend time with the family… 

5 gym sessions a week, an hour long each is impossible, right? 

Well, for some people it actually is yes. 

Luckily for these people, there are several hacks which will help you to need less gym sessions per week, and have shorter gym sessions in order to see the results that you deserve. 

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably quite a busy person. 

So instead of dragging out the introduction any further, let’s get right into the first hack to spend less time in the gym. 

Shorten Your Workouts Without Losing Quality Or Results

Hack #1 - Super Sets

If you take one thing, and one thing only, from this post. Let it be super sets. 

Super sets are an absolute god-send for those of us who need to speed up their workouts.  

But unfortunately, a lot of people use them badly. 

First of all – What is a super set? 

A super set is pretty simple. You get two different exercises and do them one after the other, with no rest between them, so that they form one set. 

For example, let’s say you were going to do lateral raises for 4 sets of 10 reps, followed by triceps extensions for 4 sets of 10 reps (this is known as straight sets). 

A super set would simply be 4 sets total, rather than 8, and each set would be 10 reps of lateral raises, then 10 reps of triceps extensions, then your rest period. 

As I said – simple. 

You’ve probably implemented this into your own training a bunch of times. 

But the problem is, most people throw these in without much thought. The problem with this is that if super sets are not programmed effectively, they will be detrimental to your results. 

You don’t want to do a super set of two exercises targeting the same muscle, as you will be much weaker on the second exercise of each set. 

This means that you will be using less weight than your body is capable of, so your muscles will not be stimulated as much as is necessary to encourage growth and adaptation. 

So, with this in mind, the best way to use super sets in order to speed up your workouts is to programme them on antagonistic muscles. 

This means muscles which have the opposite functions, such as: 

  • Biceps & Triceps 
  • Chest & Back 
  • Quads & Hamstrings 

When you are aware of this, you can effectively use super sets to speed up your workouts. 

The reason super sets will speed up your workouts so much is because it halves the rest time you are taking. 

It may not sound like much, but if you are doing 20 sets in a whole workout, with 60 seconds rest between each set – that’s 20 minutes! 

Halving this will take a considerable chunk off your workout time, freeing you up for your life. 

Hack #2 - Increased Frequency, Reduced Volume

Sometimes the issue isn’t being able to get to the gym at all, it’s about having an hour or more spare to workout each time you go. 

This is where reducing your volume and increasing your frequency to compensate is absolutely ideal. 

Workout volume is the amount you do in a workout. It is the total of all the sets, reps, and weight that you lift, multiplied. 

Workout frequency is how many times per week you train.  

For example, a 4-day split of upper, lower, upper, lower, would give a training frequency of twice per week for muscle groups, and 4 times per week overall. 

Workout volume is a main factor dictating the time your workouts take. Obviously doing 20 sets per workout will take less time than 40. 

So, if you are currently only going to the gym twice per week but each session has to last upwards of 1 hour and a half… 

Simply split those workouts in half and have 4 workouts per week of 45 minutes each! 

It is a lot easier to slot in a 45-minute workout into a busy schedule than it is an hour and a half. 

Also, there is a lot of research suggesting that a training frequency of 2 times per muscle group, per week will provide much better results than doing the same amount of overall volume, but all on one day – with a frequency of once per week. 

Because of these reasons, this is definitely something you should give a go if you’re stuck struggling with long workouts. 

Hack #3 - Reduce rest times

In hack #1 we discussed the huge impact that cutting out half of your workouts rest periods has on the overall length of your workout. 

However, super sets aren’t optimal for everyone, and some people just simply don’t enjoy doing them. 

(This may be because they sometimes feel more like cardio) 

This is where precisely monitoring your rest times comes into play. 

If you don’t already time your rest periods, you will be shocked how long you are spending between sets. 

The time spent on Instagram, replying to texts, tying your shoelace, and flexing in the mirror adds up really, really fast. 

So, with this in mind, begin timing your rest periods. 

How long you should set these to will depend on your goals, workout, and how quick you need your session to be. 

However, a good starting place would be 60 seconds rest for compound movements, and 30 seconds rest for isolation movements. 

This keeps the tempo of your workout going (and your heart rate) while allowing you enough time to catch your breath and recover some strength. 

Just to clarify – rest periods are extremely important and you should always take adequate time between sets. 

Different exercises will require different lengths of time in order to fully recover and this is something you should take into consideration when adjusting your rest periods. 

Timing rest periods between sets

Hack #4 - Efficient Programming/adjust your split

The odds are you started off doing a ‘bro split’ in the gym. 

This is where your training is split into muscle specific days, typically looking like this: 

Day 1 – Chest 
Day 2 – Back 
Day 3 – Legs 
Day 4 – Arms 
Day 5 – Shoulders 

Although some people (myself included) will argue the effectiveness of a split like this, there is one thing you can’t argue. 

It has you in the gym 5 days per week. 

Some people can’t commit to 5 sessions per week. You don’t just have to keep the individual session length down; you might need to keep the number of workouts down. 

This is where you need to get clever and use a workout split that is right for the amount of times you can dedicate to going to the gym per week. 

This is because there is no point in locking yourself into a split which is unrealistic for you to achieve as you will constantly feel stress towards the gym, or be playing catch-up on your routine. 

This is de-motivating rather than motivating. 

So, because of this, below are the splits I would recommend for workouts once per week, all the way to 6 times per week. 

If you need help implementing these in a way that is effective for you, contact ash@upfrontnutrition.co.uk. 

1 Day Workout Split 
   Day 1 – Full Body Workout

2 Day Workout Split 
   Day 1 – Full Body Workout 
   Day 2 – Full Body Workout 

3 Day Workout Split 
   Day 1 – Upper Body Workout 
   Day 2 – Lower Body Workout 
   Day 3 – Full Body Workout 

4 Day Workout Split 
   Day 1 – Upper Body Workout 
   Day 2 – Lower Body Workout 
   Day 3 – Upper Body Workout 
   Day 4 – Lower Body Workout 

5 Day Workout Split 
   Day 1 – Push Workout 
   Day 2 – Pull Workout 
   Day 3 – Legs Workout 
   Day 4 – Upper Body Workout 
   Day 5 – Lower Body Workout 

6 Day Workout Split 
   Day 1 – Push Workout 
   Day 2 – Pull Workout 
   Day 3 – Legs Workout 
   Day 4 – Push Workout 
   Day 5 – Pull Workout 
   Day 6 – Legs Workout 

How Long To Rest Between Sets

Hack #5 - Train during off-peak hours

I wanted to save this one for the last hack. 

Training during off-peak hours is probably the most overlooked step in reducing time your time spent in the gym. 

Not to be rude, but people get in the way. 

Other people’s training is going to overlap with yours at some point in time, meaning you have to wait around to use a piece of equipment in your programme, or be slowed down trying to figure out what to do as an alternative to that exercises. 

Furthermore, if you are a regular at your gym and have been for some time, you probably have a few gym-buddies around. 

The conversations had with these people can absolutely destroy your timing in the gym. 

This sounds harsh, but when your absolute priority is to have a quick and efficient workout, then you need to avoid these. 

So, the best way to avoid this? 

Train when the gym is quiet. 

Instead of going after work, wake up an hour earlier and go before work. 

Got a gym near to your work place? Do your session during lunch. 

There is always a way you can get to the gym during the quiet times. 

You just have to do what most others aren’t willing to. 

Give this one a go and you will see your gym productivity go through the roof (not to mention your gains).

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