17 Workout Tips to Increase Efficiency at the Gym

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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. When you do find the time to go to the gym, it’s important to know how to get the most out of your workout so you don’t have to spend hours and hours there.

Whether it's training the whole body at once or working out with a friend, here are 17 workout tips to help you 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 some of our full-body exercises or strength training exercises.

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.

Ditch the distractions and invest in a pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

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.

Taking muscle-building supplements after your workout (like creatine) can also help you get the most out of all your hard work.

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.

Don’t want to work with a trainer in person? Check out these personal training apps.

READ THIS NEXT: 17 Proven Ways to Speed Muscle Recovery

Workout Tips FAQs

How should you order the exercises in your workout?

It is best to do exercises that target bigger muscles before those that target smaller muscles. For instance, you might do push ups or bench presses for back and chest before you do bicep curls or tricep extensions.

As far as the age-old debate between doing cardio or weights first, it depends on your goals. If endurance is your priority, start with cardio. Otherwise, start with weights so you can access as much of your energy source for your anaerobic work as possible.

What should you do after a workout?

Eat, hydrate, stretch, and shower. It is important to eat the right food after a workout, preferably something with lots of protein in it. Drink water and potentially electrolytes, especially if you’ve been sweating a lot. Stretch for at least five minutes to prevent any initial soreness. Lastly, be sure to shower and change right away, as sweaty clothes can have a negative impact on your skin if left on for too long.