Get the most out of workout time

Fitness Answer Man

Fitness Answer Man

October 05, 2009|By CHAD SMITH / Special to The Herald-Mail

First things first: As of today, I am officially, smack dab in my mid-30s, and who ever said 40 is the new 30 better not be lying.

In today's busy lifestyle, we often let our bodies get lost in the shuffle. Trying to keep up on daily exercise can be tough when trying to juggle life's many responsibilities. Balancing work, home and civic duties doesn't leave a lot of time for body maintenance. But if you want to live a longer, stronger life, you have to find a way to make exercise an integral part of your lifestyle. That's why it's important to know how to get more done with the time you have.

All and all, it's pretty easy to get in and out of the gym in around 30 minutes. You have to go in with a plan based on what we know are effective ways of getting more done in less time. Even trying just one of these methods will make a huge difference in your training. Try one today.


Super sets

Perform two noncompeting exercises (like a push and a pull, such as working on triceps, then working on biceps) back to back with minimal transition time between the two. This counts as one set. Using this method alone can cut your workout time in half, or free up more time for more training volume if needed.

Vertical loading

This works best with total body training. Instead of performing your workout exercise by exercise, and set by set, perform each exercise in your total body program in order of largest muscle group to smallest with no more than 30 seconds of rest between exercises.

This will allow you to strength train while also getting an added cardio effect. You can get two to three sets done in the time it takes most people to get through one exercise.

Escalating density training (EDT)

Popularized by Charles Staley, EDT saves time by having you use a circuit of two to three noncompeting exercises. Use moderate to heavy weights, do as many repetitions as you can and run through the circuit as many times as you can in 15 to 20 minutes. Every session, your goal should be to set a new personal record.

This method gets a lot of work done in 20 minutes, and it is very effective in building muscle and endurance. But it can be pretty gruelling, so pace yourself or make room on the floor beside you for your previous meal.

Combination exercises

Using combination exercises is one of the best ways to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Performing a clean with a push press will challenge virtually every muscle in your body. Some of my favorite combinations are: A dead lift with a row machine ; "T" pushups with my hands spread wide; and a lunge-curl-press circuit.

Start stringing together a few exercises using a barbell or set of dumbells and you've got yourself a complex, one of my favorite training methods.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Switching between short bursts of exercise, and slower steady recovery exercise for a short period of time is interval training. In recent studies, this method of training has been shown to be superior to traditional cardiovascular training.

The key to becoming a metabolic machine is building and maintaining lean muscle. Using HIIT allows you to get an amazing cardio effect without being chained to the cardio deck for three hours a day or losing a ton of muscle in the process.

An easy way to do this is stair climbing or hill running. Go up as fast as you can go safely, then take your time coming back down. Repeat that a few times.

Chad Smith is co-owner of Home Team Fitness. Visit his Web site,

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