This article originally appeared on Greatist.com.
Hectic lives full of long workdays, dinner plans and trying to do laundry makes it hard to fit in fitness. So, if we're headed to the gym, we might as well make the most of it.
Whether it's training the whole body at once or working out with a friend, here are 17 ways to be more productive at the gym.
1. Dodge Distractions
"I'm doing a push-up...Can I call you back?" Yeah, right.
Smartphones, smartwatches, and anything else that buzzes or dings can be big time sucks. Avoid texts, calls, and Snapchat by putting your phone on Do Not Disturb or airplane mode.
2. Avoid Rush Hour
Try going to the gym during off-peak hours to steer clear of crowds and avoid waiting for equipment. Extra points for going midday to stay productive all day long!
3. Know Where to Go
If you're unfamiliar with the gym, plan to spend a little extra time during your first visit so you can scope out the scene. Figure out where all the equipment is so you're not running in circles looking for the kettlebells.
4. Download an App
Not sure exactly what to do at the gym? Save time by using a fitness app to have a plan. Or simply try one of our strength or cardio workouts.
5. Turn on the Tunes
Studies show listening to music while working out can help people work out harder, better, faster, and stronger. Pro tip: Keep one mega-upbeat song on your playlist as a go-to for those especially tough workout moments when you need an extra push.
6. Set a Goal
Plan your gym goals before arriving. It's easy to get distracted and feel overwhelmed when you hit a crowded floor, but if you've already jotted a few notes, you'll know to head immediately to the mats, treadmills, or free weights. Take it a step further by writing down the number of reps, sets, or even a specific workout to avoid cutting corners halfway through.
7. Stay Hydrated
Water doesn't only hydrate—it can fight fatigue too. Two hours prior to your workout, try to drink 17 to 20 ounces of water. During your workout, drink seven to 10 ounces about every 20 minutes.
8. Fuel Up
Though some studies have shown benefits to working out on an empty stomach, it's always best to follow your gut—literally. Fueling before a workout also provides sustained energy so you can push harder.
9. Time Your Rest
Stay aware of the clock ticking between intervals or sets. That 60-second recovery can easily turn into three or four minutes if you're not paying attention. Try using a timer on your phone or an interval app to keep rest consistent.
10. Do Supersets
Want to really save time? Do two exercises in a row that focus on the same muscle group (think: squats followed by lunges, or push-ups followed by pull-ups). Decreasing rest will engage muscles and burn more calories.
11. Up the Resistance or Weight
To avoid plateaus, switch up your intensity and reps on a regular basis. Upping the amount of weight you're lifting will build muscle and burn fat (and no, ladies, it won't make you bulky).
In general, once you can do eight to 12 reps at a particular weight, increase the weight by 5 percent. Once you can do 12 reps, increase again.
12. Take a Class
If you're constantly hitting the gym by yourself, you can get stuck in a rut fast. Signing up for a class—whether it's spinning, yoga, or a mix of cardio and strength—can spice things up and help push you to a new level. Bonuses: A definite start and end time, help from an instructor, and accountability.
13. Pick a Partner
Not only can friends help increase your accountability, but we're pretty sure exercising together is a lot more fun than going solo. The same holds true for couples: Studies have shown couples have a strong influence over each other's healthy behaviors and that sticking to a healthy goal is easier when a partner is in on it too.
14. Try Tabata or Interval Training
Short on time? High-intensity interval training like Tabata can burn fat fast. You'll push hard, recover, then repeat in an effort to spike your heart rate and maximize caloric burn. Yes, it's hard, but you'll be finished in half the time.
15. Choose Moves That Target Multiple Muscle Groups
We're not saying there's something wrong with classic bicep curls or leg extension machines—but if you're looking to save time, there are more effective ways to hit all your major muscle groups. Multiple-step moves like—squats with an overhead press or lunges with a twist—target all over and will keep your workout from feeling too basic.
16. Run Intervals
Instead of spending an hour on the treadmill, opt for shorter intervals instead. Short bursts of intense running can build speed and increase cardiovascular strength in less time than long, steady-state runs, but you can also mix it up with incline intervals if speed isn't your thing.
17. Try a Personal Trainer
To prevent any sort of slacking (we've all been there), sign up for a session with a trainer. Science suggests a personal trainer can motivate people to up the intensity at the gym. Additionally, trainers can help correct bad habits and will keep your routine fresh.
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