Back in college my routine was to wake up late morning, go to class and then hit the gym for a couple of hours before heading to my part-time job or back to the dorm to do a little class work . (Yes, a couple of hours at the gym…a classic gym rat). But unfortunately, those days are gone, never to return. Now I have a job, a spouse, a highly energetic 8-year old running around, a second child that is an infant and multiple responsibilities. I don’t have the time to work out like I used to.
Yes I still need to exercise but do I need to spend two hours at the gym in order to get the same results? Surprisingly, no. What I didn’t know back then is that more work may not necessarily get better results. The body only needs a certain amount of stimulus to make progress. Pushing the body too hard for too long can result in negative returns. Two-hour workouts are not necessary. Something as simple as a thirty minute workout can produce great results. “But is thirty minutes even going to do anything?” you ask. “Don’t I have to be on the treadmill for that long? How will I get to do my weight-machines?” The key to both of these questions lies in strength training with free weights and how you structure those workouts. Here are a few tips:
1) Pick exercises that will hit lots of muscle at one time. Exercises that move one joint at a time aren’t necessarily bad, but they aren’t time efficient either. For example, forget about isolating your triceps and go for pushups.
2) Don’t be afraid to move some weight. If you pick two people at the same bodyweight, the leaner of the two will almost always be the stronger of the two. So focus on getting stronger.
3) Go for a varied rep range. If you are trying to lose weight or body fat, yes you need to do some high reps (as in 12-15 reps) but you also need to do some heavier stuff to keep your body adapting (like 5-8 reps, see point number 2 again). Try a month at 15 reps, a month at 5 reps and then a month at 10 reps and see how your body responds.
4) Remember that choosing healthy foods is the most important “exercise” you will do in attempting to regain your youthful energy and physique.