By Pam BeatonA.C.E. Certified Personal TrainerB.T.com ContributorDoes your day go like this?
Go for a run/bike/swim.
Get ready for work. Throw a breakfast down.
Take kids to school (or dog to puppy play group, or clean cat box…).
Go to work.
Spend eight hours hunched at computer, with an hour for lunch.
Leave work and go to gym for strength training.
Go home. Serve and eat dinner.
Pass out from sheer exhaustion.
Just not enough time
If this is your daily checklist, join the club. Training for a triathlon can be more difficult than one might first expect, because it has four elements: swimming, cycling, running AND strength training to prevent injury. In addition to the training: there is also everyday life, the job to pay for all the equipment required, eating clean and healthy, plus getting a decent night’s sleep every night. Twenty-four hours just barely covers the necessities, not to mention the attempt to have a social life. When we tri, we attempt to get faster, reducing our time with each race. Unfortunately, this carries over into our daily routines. All this rushing can be hazardous to our health and detrimental to our training. Even those who may seem like they have their time managed best still could use a stroll through the roses.Don't rush!
As a personal trainer, my job is to ensure that my clients are performing their exercises correctly and efficiently. Too often, I have to remind my clients to slow their movements down and not to rush through sets — something I wish I could say to 90 percent of gym goers. We live in a fast-paced society and gym time seems to have become more of a chore than an escape. I see men and women consistently throwing their arms around, using momentum and generally not taking enough rest between sets- all of which could lead to injury. Gym goers no longer conduct hour-long strength training 3-4 days a week, focusing on different body parts. Now they’re doing some weird shortened version where they condense a total body routine twice a week into 45 minutes, without proper warm up and cool down.Rushing through a workout not only yields fewer results, but also makes athletes prime candidates for injury. While we don’t all have the luxury of being able to work out for hours at a time, there are ways to be both safe and time-efficient, particularly in the weight room:
Pick what you’re going to do before you get to the gym, such as chest/triceps, back/biceps, or shoulders/legs. If the only time you can go is during peak time and all the equipment you anticipated using is being used already, stick with the general workout. For example, if you had planned on doing dumbbell chest presses and cable flies, but meathead #1 and #2 have commandeered those for the better part of the evening, do bench press (or incline press) and dumbbell flies. If you are unfamiliar with anything beyond the basic exercises, it would be a good investment to hire a personal trainer for 1-2 sessions. Personal training doesn’t have to be a weekly thing going on for months, sometimes it can just be a learning experience. I sometimes find myself having to reduce the amount of exercises I give my clients so they can do the basics properly first. Utilizing a certified personal trainer also means you will learn the correct way of doing new exercises, instead of learning them from your friend who hasn’t learned anything new since he was on the high school football team 15 years ago.
By only doing 2 or 3 body parts, you will have more time, but if you still want some variety try pyramiding your sets. Pyramiding means decreasing your reps while increasing your weight, or vice versa. This type of training targets both strength and toning goals, and will challenge your body in new ways. For example, if you do 3 sets of preacher curls at 65 lbs for 12 reps, try doing 12 reps at 65 lbs, 10 reps at 70 lbs and 8 reps at 75 lbs.
If you must fit both cardio and strength training in an hour, try doing cardio in between exercises. I like to keep a jump rope handy so I can keep my heart rate up in between exercises, it can also be beneficial to get your cardio outside of the swim/bike/run mold. Another way to make it go faster and combat boredom is to strength train for 15 minutes, run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and finish strength training for an additional 15 minutes. However, it is always a good idea to do a “warm-up set” before getting to your heavy weights. For example, try only bench pressing the bar (45 lbs) before adding weight.
No matter what you do, keep it safe both on and off the race course!