Back to articles Top 5 time-savers for the gym

Categories: Parent Picks

Summer is the time for getting out ? whether it?s a game of Frisbee in the park or cocktails on the patio after work. Don?t let your workouts fall by the wayside at the exact same time you?re squeezing into those smaller, tighter summer outfits. Work out smarter!

Only got an hour to get in, pumped, showered and out?  No problem!  Be sure to incorporate these five great tips and shave several minutes off your exercise routine.  You'll burn tons more calories in a fraction of the time.

  1. super sets are super.  Structure your workout so you perform two exercises working different muscles back-to-back.  Try pairing up one leg exercise with one upper body exercise or one core exercise with any large muscle move using the legs, back or chest.  Complete one set of each in succession, then rest 30-60 seconds before your next set.
  2. power up your cardio.  Interval training uses short bouts of high-intensity cardio (approximately 85% of maximum heart rate) with periods of active rest (65-75% of MHR) to blast off more calories in less time and boost your metabolism for hours after you step off the treadmill.  After a 5-10 minute warmup, try 1 minute running as hard as you can with 2 minutes jogging or speedwalking; repeat 6 times and cool down.
  3. use your downtime.  Instead of completing a set and resting 1-2 minutes before starting again, recover those lost minutes by performing a lighter exercise while you recover from your main move.  Try a seated shoulder press while you rest your legs or some crunches while you rest your back.  By the time you finish those crunches your back will be ready to go again!
  4. go for compound moves.  These are the moves that really get your heart rate up in half the time, incorporating two exercises into one, such as a squat with a shoulder press or a bent-over row with a triceps kickback.  Perform these moves as you would any others, in succession with no rest until you complete the set.  Not for the faint of heart!
  5. don't sweat the small stuff.  One of the easiest ways to cut down your workout time is to cut down your workout.  Already doing lots of back, chest and shoulder exercises? Skip the arms until you have more time.  Or if you're doing lots of dynamic leg moves, save your calves for later in the week.  Focus on those huge calorie burners - the legs, back and chest - to get the biggest burn out of your precious hour.

    Dara Duff-Bergeron is a veteran fitness trainer and a mommy of one with one on the way.  After a decade of fitness training, consulting and writing, Dara now combines her exceptional experience and down-to-earth philosophy in Fit Family personal training and Belly Bootcamp pre-and post-natal fitness.  Contact her at for more information.