Whether you go to the gym before work or fit in a workout during lunchtime, cutting the time you spend in the locker room can help. Throw these 10 gym essentials into your bag before you go; each will help you save minutes, from pre-workout prep to post-workout primping.
Sometimes, your lunch break is the only time you have to make it to the gym. But fitting in an intense run can be hard — after all, the pre- and post-workout prep can take out a big chunk of your lunch hour. Luckily, short runs don't have to be ineffective. Here are some short and sweet (and intense) treadmill workouts to do on your lunch hour, so you can get in, get out, and get back to work.
- You can do anything for a minute: Intense intervals are the way to go if you want to maximize your short time on the treadmill. Use this minute-interval workout as a guide for your run; even if you can't fit in all 30 minutes, you can stop at 17 or 21 minutes for an effective workout.
- Ramp it up: Adding speed and incline means you can burn almost 300 calories in just 20 minutes. These incline, interval, and speed workout ideas burn just as many calories as a steady-paced 30-minute run.
- Just 15 minutes: Want something that raises your heart rate but doesn't leave you drenched in sweat? The 15-minute treadmill workout portion of our two-machine elliptical and treadmill workout will have you mostly jogging at a manageable pace, but with a few fast minute-long intervals thrown in the mix.
Whether you're a first-time gymgoer or a dedicated gym rat, chances are there are a few ways you can make your gym time even more effective and efficient. Ready to take your workouts to the next level? Here are 15 tips to help you make the most of your time at the gym.
We are pumped to share one of our favorite stories from Self here on POPSUGAR Fitness!
Hydro ride, pool biking, aqua cycling . . . whatever you want to call it, the low-impact workout that's hugely popular across Europe in countries like France, Italy, and Germany is finally making a splash in the States, too. And let us tell you — it's definitely interesting!
Currently, the Euro trend is being offered at only a handful of places in the United States, and the first boutique underwater cycling studio opened its doors to curious New Yorkers this past week. Three ambitious SELF staffers (myself and my editor included) tested the hydro bikes at AQUAStudio NY, a gorgeous TriBeCa studio that boasts modern, Zen-like decor that felt more like a Russian bathhouse than a gym. "I just want to live here!" a student in our class gushed.
But the new trendy studio, with its pint-size pool is oceans away from the high energy, lane-to-lane packed pools in many European classes, which often take place outdoors with the instructor on a bike on deck. (Need a visual? Check out the crazy YouTube vids.)
That five-times-a-week gym routine can get old fast. If you find that you're dreading the gym more than looking forward to it, here are three ways to get out of your gym funk.
- DIY it: If you're a gym class fan but are feeling like you've gotten all you can get out of your go-to class, try working out on your own. You'll have to concentrate more on your workout, from counting reps to navigating the gym floor, all of which can keep you from feeling bored. Print out this full-body circuit workout for your next gym trip, or find an open corner where you can fire up your workout playlist and focus on a total-body mat workout.
- Skip it: If the gym is just not doing it for you anymore, it may be time to give your membership card a rest. Focus on things you can do to tone and burn calories that don't require making the gym trip, like exercising outside or stocking up your home gym so you can work out at home. These free alternatives to the gym — like the local high school track or free yoga in the park — will inspire you to get up and get outside. Alternating non-gym workouts with your normal routine can help you inject enthusiasm back into your routine.
- Change it up: Even with all the options at the gym, many people like to stick to a routine. If you're one of them, now's the time to take a look at everything your gym offers. Check out the class schedule online, ask for a tour, or seek out a trainer to explain a piece of equipment. You may find that you actually love to tone your arms with the battle ropes more than dumbbells, or that your gym's newest circuit class is your new favorite.
It's OK to admit that sometimes you just need a break from the gym. If the crowds have you in a rut or if you're looking for affordable alternatives to a pricey membership, we have a solution. Whether you want to spend time outdoors or make the most of your DVD player, there are several options to choose from — all of which don't cost a dime! With the weather warming up and that beach body on your mind, try any one of these workouts and give that treadmill a break (for now).
I love a good gym class for forcing me to push myself during a workout, and nothing beats a personal training session to keep my form in check. Sports Club/LA's BLITZ class is a bit like having the best of both worlds — here's why I can't wait to sweat it out at another one.
BLITZ is a high-intensity conditioning class that promises to help you step up your goals and reach your next fitness level. Since each class is limited to just four or five students, it's an excellent option if you're looking to improve your fitness while staying safe. There's no back of the room here; your instructor sees all and will correct your form as necessary. Each hour-long class is structured similarly — the instructor writes the day's workout on a board in front of the class, and after completing the 15-minute warmup circuit, 30 minutes is put on the clock and the countdown begins. All the equipment you need is ready and waiting for you, from barbells to medicine balls to TRX straps. You goal is to complete as many sets of the circuit that your trainer recommends before the clock hits zero. Afterward, there's a 15-minute cooldown session that includes core exercises followed by stretches. Having the workout on the board in front of you means you can exercise at your own pace, but you can still use a little friendly competition to push yourself to keep up with your fellow students.
Each class has a specific goal based on what you are working on — either endurance, power, or strength — so your reps and sets will vary. Endurance classes, for example, are more like a traditional cardio workout so you do more reps with less recovery time, while strength classes feature exercises that aim to fatigue your muscles. Power classes focus on exercises that require a full range of motion to improve your body's agility, balance, and speed. In general, however, you can expect high-intensity exercises like walking dumbbell lunges, box jumps, deadlifts, TRX chest presses, sled pushes, ball smashes, and power snatches. Basically, you're sweating the whole way through.
At the 2013 International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association trade show, thousands of gym owners and trainers converged to try out innovative fitness and health products. This year, it was all about bringing the fun back into fitness. Click through for nine fitness products we found at the trade show that making working out fun — from workouts that mimic outdoor sports to equipment that would be at home on a playground — and then vote on whether you'd want to see them at your gym!
You hit the gym almost every day and log many hours a week there, so if you're still not seeing results, then what gives? Make sure you're not sabotaging your workout with these bad gym habits.
- Repeating the same workout: You know you have to branch out, but trying something new instead of resorting to your old gym standbys can take time and be intimidating. But the same thing over and over not only leads to boredom, but also stops results. Keep your muscles guessing by incorporating different aspects into your workout — like yoga one day, followed by a circuit class another — to ensure your body doesn't plateau.
- Not taking classes: You've been a gym regular for so many years that people think you work there. So what do you think you can learn in a gym class? Actually, a lot, if you choose wisely. Even if you'd rather work out alone, attending a class every once in a while can give you new circuit ideas or offer you a form check when you watch your instructor demonstrate. Keep tabs on the new class schedules when they are released to see if anything new catches your eye.
- Not focusing on your workout: The treadmill may be the only time you feel like you're free to respond to emails on your phone or read that article you've bookmarked, but if you're multitasking while you're working out, then you're probably not doing either task very well. Save the reading material or the email replies for later, and focus on adding intensity to your workouts.
- Using ineffective machines: You spend hours at the gym and wonder why you're not seeing the pounds melt away. It could be because you're wasting your time on certain machines. Instead of wasting time at a machine that isolates just one set of muscles, like the crunch machine or the abductor thigh machine, incorporate full-body or multiple-muscle group moves to your routine. Try any of these gym workouts to strengthen your body without wasting time.
- Not warming up or cooling down: If you're skipping out on these, then your workout is suffering. A proper warmup primes muscles to perform at their best, while your cooldown — which should include stretching and regular foam rolling — helps rebuild your muscles so they grow stronger. Use this active warmup before your next workout to make your workout is the best it can be.
Whether it's too many people, the time commitment, or the facilities you can't afford, there will always be an excuse to hate the gym. But beyond reaching weight loss goals, there are so many reasons why investing in a membership helps you lead a healthier life.
- Build a network: If you're feeling disconnected from your community, there's no better place to build a real social network than at the gym. This is especially true if you've moved to a new city and are looking to meet like-minded locals. As you work out on machines and head into group classes, you'll start to see the same faces and have a sense of camaraderie.
- Evolve your skills: It's easy to fall into the same workout traps: you give up on particular exercises, and you don't even try others. When you look around the gym, you have a shot to see people hard at work and moving through exercises you've never understood how to do before. Gym classes are another valuable resource; you'll be forced to try new exercises but under the instruction of an expert.
- Stick to the plan: Even if you occasionally pop in a workout DVD, there's always a chore or task that manages to pop up at the perfect time, offering you a chance to stop and take a break. While you can certainly find excuses anywhere, the gym environment doesn't lend itself to much break time, especially at peak hours.
- Sleep soundly: Without fail, on the days you work out hard at the gym, you'll sleep better on those nights. This is especially the case if you're working a 9-to-5 gig and sitting all day with pent-up energy. For anyone sedentary who's dealing with insomnia issues, this might be the shift you need for a restful night's sleep.
- Clear your head: You might be worried about the investment, but you'll soon find that the gym is the place you run to for blowing off steam and sweating away stress. With regular exercise, the chemistry in your brain literally changes. You have higher energy levels all day long, plus a more positive perspective. It may feel like plopping on the couch would be the best way to unwind and reboot, but you'll soon find, it's quite the opposite.