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How To Manage Your Time For An Effective Workout

by: Damion Hackett

It is that hour of the day where you have to hit the gym, go to work, feed the dog, cook dinner, and the list of things goes on and on.  You only have 24 hours though.  What you do with 24 hours can be very impactful to your goals both negatively or positively. Asking for more hours is not the answer because you cannot get more.  However, how to manage your time is another story.

Managing your time is important in many aspects of daily life and writing things down helps keep you on track.  If you’re like me and your job requires you to work an evening shift and don’t have weekends off, time management becomes even more important. My gym has great hours it’s open from 5AM to 12AM, unfortunately I work from 3PM to 12AM so I only have access to my gym for 10 hours during any typical work day. With my day split up like this, it’s hard to fit in sleeping, getting my meals prepared and eating on time, spending time with my family and gym time. Over the years, I have created a schedule and some pre-planning techniques that help to fit it all into my limited time.

As I mentioned earlier, I work from 3PM to 12AM. I am also scheduled to have Sundays and Mondays off though sometimes if additional staff is needed I may work those days as well. Since my gym closes at 12AM, my only option is to go to the gym before work but I also need to leave myself enough time after my workout to get home to eat a quick meal, shower and get to work on time. I typically get up around 6AM in the morning so I can beat the noon crowd at the gym. If I hit the snooze button too many times then I arrive at the gym during a peak period and have to wait for equipment and machines to free up so that I can use them. Getting to the gym on time is especially important if I am super setting and doing giant sets for that workout. If you do the math, getting up at 6AM doesn’t leave me much time for sleep since I don’t get home from work until after 12AM. This is a sacrifice that I choose to make in order to accomplish the goals that I have set forth for myself. I can usually get done early enough in the day that I can get a nap in before work, which really helps refresh myself so that I am ready to go when I arrive at work.

Since I don’t get much sleep taking glutamine, creatine, and joint health helps with my post workout recovery. It won’t make up for the sleep I miss but it does help and I have noticed a difference if I don’t take them. It is also very important for me to go into the gym with a plan or workout written up before I go because it is very easy to get sidetracked and then I end up doing a 3 hour workout. I always make up my plan and I stick to it to avoid the crowds. So that a 60 minute workout doesn’t turn in to 3 hour workout and I end up missing my meals and run late.

To me the gym is not my social time, it is my time for me to work towards reaching my goals. One time management strategy is to leave your cell phone in the locker. Having it with you will tempt you to respond to texts, answer phone calls or check social media sites.

In my line of work you are lucky to get the time to eat three meals while on the job. Some days it is possible. I am willing to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the goals I have set for myself. If I miss a meal or two I can feel it; especially the next day because I become very sluggish. One meal is approximately 500 calories, so if I miss one then I could start to lose weight that I have worked hard to put on.

You have to use you time wisely in the gym too, not everyone has the opportunity to get in two workouts a day almost every day. You might only have time for three or four days out of the week to get to the gym. If that is the case make sure you utilize the time you do have at the gym. As an example, if you only have the opportunity to make it to the gym three days a week you can do full body workouts Monday/Wednesday/Friday and stick to compound movements. Pick two exercises, at most, per muscle group, hit them hard, and move on. Even if you can only get in for 30 minutes, studies show that all it takes is 30 minutes of exercise five days a week to lower your risk for diabetes, heart disease and lengthen your lifespan. With the right planning, you can create a quick and effective workout and reach your fitness goals in that half-hour. If you are struggling with this, then I would suggest getting a personal trainer or exercise specialist.

When it comes down to it, figuring out my meals and getting them ready is a challenge some days. I have one day of “rest” that I do not go into the gym. On that day I prepare all my meals for the upcoming week. Currently, I get six meals a day because I am trying to put on muscle. Our kitchen is very busy on Sunday while my wife and I are preparing a week’s worth of meals. I have a few pounds of chicken, beef, rice, vegetables, and potatoes cooking all at once. It is important to remember that what you’re eating is even more important than the workouts. You have to have the fuel to get through the workout no matter what your goals are. I have some big goals so I need to eat quite a bit of food. With my schedule it can be hard to get all my meals in. I must time every meal. This would be a second reason I wake up early, so I can get three meals in before work plus my workout.

Another good way is changing the intensity for maximum effectiveness. For example, try increasing the incline on the treadmill, upping the resistance on the stationary bike, raising the height of a step machine or doing fast sets and reps, such as only giving yourself 30 seconds rest in-between sets. These variations will not only keep you mentally involved, but they also maximize the benefits of a quick workout by surprising and challenging your muscles.

Get the same results in a shorter amount of time by increasing intensity. High-intensity intervals will burn fat faster than trudging away at the same rate will, and supersets combine the benefits of cardio with your strength-training routine. Doing supersets, tri-sets, and giant sets can also help you get a good workout and get all you wanted to get in for the workout in a good time frame. You’ll burn more calories in less time. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

You need to pick a gym or fitness facility that meets your needs, or you’ll eventually stop going and will have wasted your time and money. I would recommend selecting a gym that has exercise programs you are interested in such as yoga or kickboxing, qualified instructors, and programs appropriate to your age group. Your gym should also be convenient to get to and offer flexible classes that work with your schedule. Make sure you are ready to work out before you get to the gym. Wear your gym cloths there so you don’t have to waste time by dressing and undressing.

Drink your pre-workout shakes before or on your way to the gym. If the place is jammed and there is no squat cage or bench press, or if all the chin-up bars are constantly occupied, then you may need to rethink your workout time of day. Not everyone is able to do this, so alternatively, you need to look for ways to adapt your plans. If every squat cage is taken and they don’t look like they’re going to be free any time soon, then consider doing something else that day, always have a plan B on your mind or written up just in case.

One thing to take into consideration is bad form. Don't just do the exercise; do it right. Improper exercise technique not only poses a greater risk of injury to muscles and joints, it also wastes your time. You may be thinking that you're strengthening one muscle when in fact you are straining another or stressing a joint. In order to reach your goals you don’t have to make the workout complicated. Keep it short and sweet. Stick to the basics. Always remember your goals and keep going. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t keep at it. So no giving up! This is one thing I have to tell myself every day.

Time management is an important factor in getting your workout completed and having time for eating the meals that are required to reach your goals. Remember, write out your scheduled time management plan and stick to it so you can reach your goals! Yup, it is that easy and if I can do it, you can do it! 


  • Keela says...

    Finally got time to read thru the entire article today. Pretty good for your first one!

    On December 23, 2015

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