Just for the health of it

Columnist: Three tips to optimize your workout time


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I was a sophomore in high school when I first began seriously exercising. My dad bought me some dumbbells, a weight bench, and a heavy bag and set up an exercise area in my basement.

I would literally spend hours in the basement lifting weights, looking up videos concerning form, and doing my best to educate myself about training. I was (naïvely) a strong believer that the more time I spent in that basement, the more results I would see.

However, I have learned through experience that getting the most out of daily workouts is not about the time spent in the gym; it is about the optimization of the time spent in the gym.

The benefits of optimization are twofold: you will (1) save time in the gym, providing more time to spend on the many other activities on your plate and (2) see more results from your hard work in the gym, feeling better physically and mentally.

For undergraduate students, having time to fit class, homework, extracurriculars and other activities into one day is a seemingly impossible task. With pressing deadlines, meetings and tests, finding time to exercise can feel impossible. Often, a common misconception surfaces: exercising for x amount of time per day is the only way that it will be beneficial. This is not the case.

Spending two hours in the gym is not necessarily better than spending 45 minutes in the gym; the key is to optimize the amount of time that you are willing to dedicate to the gym. Here are three simple, easy-to-apply tips to optimize your exercise time:


1. Turn up the Intensity:

   Whether you enjoy training with weights, running on the treadmill, or swimming laps in the pool, it is possible to increase the intensity of your workout. If you usually lift weights and rest for 75 seconds between sets, rest for 45 seconds instead. If you usually run at an eight-minute-mile pace for 45 minutes on the treadmill, run at a seven-minute-mile pace for 25 minutes. If you swim 40 laps at 50 percent of your maximum speed, swim 30 laps at 75 percent of your maximum speed. Increasing intensity will push you to have a better workout, while also allowing you to leave the gym sooner.


2. Time Rest Periods:

As I eluded to in tip one, rest periods are important to optimizing your time in the gym. Regardless of the exercise method that you prefer, timing your rest periods is vital.

It is easy to get caught staring of into space, singing along to your favorite song, or taking an extended water break between exercise periods. To combat these pitfalls, wear a watch or haveyour phone’s timer handy to stay on track with shorter, stricter rest periods.


3. Cut the Conversation:

This tip may be more difficult to accomplish, because the gym is a social hub on campus. In fact, on a broader scale, the gym is becoming a bonding place for business professionals as well, and is beginning to replace the stereotypical “golf meetings” that take place between business-people.

However, if your goal is to optimize gym time, it is important to keep conversations out of your routine. This does not mean to be rude to people who may want to talk to you, but it is possible to politely put off conversation to another time.


Take these three tips to the gym this week and experience your exercise time become more efficient daily. The times of spending two hours in the gym are over; optimize your time and get a better workout faster.