I’m sure you have all heard of the age-old adage ‘Work Smarter, Not Harder’. The idea being that through prioritising, planning, focusing and learning when to say no, you can work more effectively. This would give more time for external activities (such as exercise), family and fun. In turn decreasing your stress levels and minimising the risk of burn-out. While I can’t tell you what to do on the business front in order to take these steps, I can give you some pointers on how this motto can be applied to your health by ‘smartening’ up your eating and exercise regime.
Prioritise: why are you training? To increase cardio-vascular fitness, improve muscle strength, reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases, fight the extra roll, decrease stress? By pin-pointing that why, we can then prioritise. For example, to increase cardiovascular health you would focus more on the cardio equipment with a couple of weight sessions thrown in. If you are more muscle focused then you would plan for about 4 weight sessions per week with some cardio for warm-up and maybe a solo cardio session each week. For general health you would have more of a mixed bag.
Plan: know what you are going to do before you set foot in the gym, this way you are not wasting time thinking of what to do next. Getting a program tailored to you from a trainer is the best way to do this.
Learn to say ‘No’: okay so this one applies more to business, however in health terms you can learn to say ‘No’ to junk food, excess alcohol, smoking, this list goes on… In a gym situation you may have to say no to a chatterbox so you can continue your training.
Focus: for the small percentage of time you are in the gym, stay focused on your exercise. Try not to get distracted by others, don’t take your phone with you, and make it your time. Chances are you don’t get much time to yourself so this can be some great personal time out – just you and other likeminded troops working off the day’s indulgences and stress.
Whilst working one muscle group at a time (bicep curls,leg curls, calf raises, etc.) is still a common sight in gyms, there are better ways of working the same muscle groups whilst incorporating other muscle groups in what are referred to as compound exercises. Training more muscle groups at a time increases the efficiency of your session. This can be especially beneficial when you are short on time, as a quality 30-minute workout can deliver superior results than a mediocre hour.
Here are some of my favorite compound exercises (for more guidance ask your friendly Personal Trainer):
- Squat Row: This exercise consists of 2 major movements including a squat and a row. Using the cable machine set at the lowest setting with 2 handles. Walk 1metre backwards, position your legs shoulder width apart and stand tall with good posture. You are now good to go! Keeping your arms straight squat down to 90° knees, then as you stand back up row the handles into your ribs keeping your shoulders back, chin up and knees soft.
- Dumbbell Chest Press on the Fit Ball: Position yourself with your head and shoulders on the fit ball; keep your bum up and knees at 90°. Holding the dumbbells above your chest with slightly bent elbows and hold your core strong, here we go! Lower the dumbbells drawing an arc to 90° elbows so you feel a mild stretch across your chest and shoulders, reverse the motion back to the top while blowing out and ensuring strong body position.
- Chin ups: This one is pretty straight forward yet one of the most beneficial. For those of you who can’t lift your entire bodyweight, there are options. Most gyms will have an assisted chin up machine; alternatively you can position a bar at waist height and lay under it, with your legs straight and feet on the ground. Pull your chest to the bar. This will help progress you to full chin ups.
- Sumo Rotations: A great exercise for your entire core and legs. Set the cable at waist height, position yourself in a wide sumo squat so your chest is now inline with the cable setting, keeping your arms straight rotate your body from facing the machine to 180°, control the release back to the start.
So, next time you hit the gym give these a crack and Work Smarter, Not Harder. Unfortunately you can’t really delegate someone else to do the exercise for you but by following these tips you can get a highly effective workout in less time than old school training. Now get out there and smash it, train AWESOME!!!
By Chad Islip