It was touch and go there for a minute but, it's official, we survived the Polar Vortex! All those frigid days we spent in hibernation, begging Mother Nature for a break from the torturous temperatures, are now a thing of the past. After all that complaining (no judgement, I'm totally guilty of the endless whining) it is now our duty make the most of the beautiful summer weather.
Yes, I'd say we've all more than earned the right to park ourselves on a patio, soak up the sunshine and sip that chilled Chardonnay. But, just because there's now a far more appealing after-work option than going the gym, doesn't mean our fitness has to suffer! Here's everything you need to know about minimizing your time in the gym so you can maximize your time on the patio.
Have A Plan
The gym can be an overwhelming place even for the most enthusiastic exercisers. What muscle group do you want to work? What equipment are you going to use? How many reps? Sets? Weight? The last thing you want to do is spend the first 10 of your 30 precious minutes wandering around aimlessly, feeling lost and annoyed. You need to make the most of every second and the only way to do that is to walk in with a plan. A hard copy, hand written, play-by-play of exactly what you're going to do for the next 30 minutes. Having a routine mapped out in front of you will also help keep you accountable. If it says hold that squat for one minute, you probably will. If left to a game time decision, you're likely to let yourself off the hook earlier and not push yourself as hard.
Trust me, the 30 second rest (you allotted yourself in the plan you wrote down) isn't enough time to catch up with your old acquaintance you run into, or strike up a flirty conversation with the guy doing curls on the bench beside you. Keep the socializing to a minimum, that heart rate up and your eye on the prize (I mean the amazing workout, not Mr. Biceps over there!). If you happen to run into someone you know, keep your ear buds in, give a little wave and quickly return to your exercise. This way you're being friendly but also indicating that you're engulfed in a super intense workout session and need to keep focused. Chances are they'll be more impressed than anything!
But, in-person social distractions are the easy part; it's those DIGITAL distractions that could do you in. Simply leave your phone in the locker. It is too tempting to whip it out while you catch your breath and peruse Instagram, check your work email, or worse -- take a gym selfie! These things will only eat up precious time and take you out of the focused headspace you need to be in to get through this quickie workout.
Reduce Recovery Time
As you know the recovery time in between sets is just as important as the exercise itself. Our muscles can take up to two minutes to recharge before we can exhaust them again. But don't fear, there's a way around these long breaks! It's called split sets. The idea is, if you group a few exercises together that each work completely different muscle groups your body can recover as you're working on the next move and you can save the break until all the exercises are complete. For example if you combine a squat, a push-up and a plank, your lower body recovers as you work your upper body, and upper body recovers as you work your core. You can seamlessly move through all three exercises and only stop to take a short rest at the very end!
Skip The Treadmill
No time for cardio? No problem! Mixing explosive exercises into your strength training routine is all you need to get your heart racing and sweat flowing. Besides, high intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most effective way to burn calories. Try making every other move, high intensity. So, add a jump to your squat, a burpee to your pushup or mountain climbers to your plank, and you may never go back to battling it out on the treadmill. You're welcome!
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