As a personal trainer, you might guess that the most common barriers to the progress of our clients include poor dietary intake or the ability to push themselves during a workout.
But most people respond very well to nutritional guidance and testing workouts - and modern barriers are actually far less conspicuous. The biggest challenge my team and I face is finding ways to maximise results from the minimal time our customers have to invest in their fitness.
We occasionally get to work with fitness enthusiasts and local athletes who devote lots of time to their activities but, for the most part, we help people who have limited time due to long working days and evening/weekend family commitments.
Busy people rarely have more than three hours each week to commit to working out. That’s not a huge amount if the goal is ambitious!
And the hard part is providing them with methods of achieving their targets.
So, for example, nutrition plans have to consider what can be prepared at speed, consumed relatively quickly (considering palatability) or can be purchased very close to the workplace.
Over the last eight years I have become not only a fitness professional but also a time management wizard and here are my top three tips to help you increase your results.
I don’t need to know your exact fitness goal/targets - whether it's a big run next year or just a desire to lose weight and get more active, these tips are general and should help everyone.
1. Pre-workout fuel
Studies show, over-and-over, that the food you consume before your workout can have a dramatic impact on how your body adapts to the session.
The correct pre-workout meal/snack can help maximise fat loss, build muscle tissue to improve performance for both strength and endurance efforts. The wrong choice of food pre-work can equally negatively impact your workout.
So two hours before your workout…
– try to consume a snack of high-quality protein (preferably an animal protein) and smart fats. Some of my favourite smart fats include; coconut oil, avocado and nuts.
– try to consume the same, substantial portion of high-quality protein, but this time with some low GI carbohydrates. My favourites include oats, quinoa and brown rice.
– try to consume a small amount of protein and a substantial portion of low GI carbohydrate. For many, consuming this two to three hours before can significantly help relieve bloating.
2. Switch off
Switching off is such a simple, obvious yet absolutely vital tool to maximise your workout time.
Most of the people that we work with have such little time to fit in workouts. So whether you are out on a run or working on your strength in the gym, be fully focussed on what you are doing. Especially if you're at the gym, leave your phone, Apple Watch and all other mobile devices in your locker! If you want to listen to music, buy an MP3 player with no Wi-Fi and no message alerts or notifications.
Your workout time is an investment in your health and fitness. It is a chance for you to concentrate only on yourself and your goals/personal aspirations.
Treat it as such and don’t allow a to-do list or a text message to get in the way.
3. Pick the biggest bang-for-your-buck exercises
To get the best return on your time investment, select only the biggest, baddest exercises for your chosen target.
How you use each specific exercise will vary depending on the outcome you are training for (increasing muscle mass will use a very different program to muscular endurance for a mountain climb). However, the 'best exercises' to use are fairly set-in-stone for many common training goals.
For the upper body:
- Over-head pressing: both with dumbbells and barbells.
- Chin ups and cable pull-downs.
- Lying inclined presses on a bench: both dumbbells and barbells [see left].
- Rowing movements: both from standing or braced on a bench with dumbbells and barbells.
For the lower body:
- Lunges [see left].
- Split squats.
- Step ups.