Newsflash: workout sessions don’t have be long to be effective! I know that with a job, family and social life it isn’t always easy to find time for working out, so I’m happy to tell you that a 20 minute workout can be just as effective as an hour long workout – you just have to maximize your time! I see so many people slave away at the gym doing things that won’t get them the results they desire. So, for everyone that wants to boost the power of their workout sessions, check my five ways to maximize your gym time…

1. Incorporate Interval Training

Interval training is short for High Intensity Interval Training, also known as HIIT. During HIIT workouts you alternate between short intense bursts of activity followed by rest periods, rather than keeping one steady pace.

If you aren’t incorporating Interval Training in your workouts yet, I really, really recommend you start now. Don’t just take it from me; the efficiency of Interval training is one of the very few things science actually agrees on. Compared to regular workouts, Interval Training can triple your calorie burn in a much shorter period of time. You’ll also experience a great excess post-exercise oxygen consumption — aka EPOC or afterburn – that makes your body burn extra calories up to 48 hours after your workout. On top of that you’ll burn a higher percentage of fat and a lower percentage of muscle compared to regular endurance training, and you’ll also increase your aerobic capacity more efficiently. Oh, and it’s far less boring. Need I say more?

If you want to start with interval training, my 900 Calorie Burn DVD and 6 Weeks To Sculpted program contain some solid HIIT workouts.

2. Train Multiple Muscles At The Same Time

Strength training is great, but if you’re doing isolated movements like bicep curls, know that you can work much more efficiently. How? By doing compound movements. Compound movements train multiple muscles (or even whole muscle groups) at the same time, which doesn’t just boost the sculpting power of your workout, it also accelerates weight loss. Exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges are great examples of compound movements. A good rule of thumb is to pick movements that involve your bum and legs, as they’re some of the biggest muscle groups in your body.

3. Lift Heavier Weights

You can increase the efficiency of your strength training by doing fewer reps with heavier weights. Your muscles strengthen and get used to a certain amount of weight after a while, so if you’ve been training with the same dumbbells/kettlebells etc. for months, it’s time to switch it up! Pick weight that feel challenging, but not impossible. You should be able to do 10-15 reps max. If you can do more, go heavier, if you’re about to keel over by rep 8, go lighter.

4. Train Different Dominant Muscle Groups Each Day

Don’t train the same muscles back to back! When you’re doing strength training you’re in fact breaking your muscles. It’s only after your workout – when they’re recovering – that muscle is built. If you train the same muscles within 48 hours after your first workout, you’ll interrupt this process and inhibit your progress. I see this happen so much, and it’s such a waste. So switch up the muscle groups you train on consecutive days. For example: Upper Dominant workout (bench press, pull ups) one day, and lower Dominant workout (Heavy dumbbell reverse lunges, deadlifts) the next. My 6 Weeks To Sculpted program contains well thought out programming to ensure your muscles have time to recover and grow. You can download the training schedule for free here and get started with the program here.

5. Eat Right Before Your Workout

The way you fuel your body before you hit the gym can really affect your workout. You won’t be able to give it your all if you’re running on empty or have chomped down on greasy food beforehand. Therefore opt for a moderate sized snack that has carbs and protein, and is low on fiber. Carbs are good because the energy they provide will be instantly available, while protein is good fuel for your muscles afterwards. Eat your snack no later than 30 minutes before you work out, and a full meal no later than 1-2 hours before.

6. Write Out Your Workouts

Guide yourself through the gym jungle! Write down your workouts ahead of time. Write down exactly what you will do, where you will do it, and for how long you’ll do it. This gives you a plan of action, so you won’t lose time deciding where to go or what to do next. It’s also a great tool to help set goals and keep track of them. Need a little inspiration? Try any of my free under 20 minute workouts or get hardcore with my DVDs!

7. Be Mindful of Going With Friends

Training with friends can be a great way of adding accountability and helping motivation. It can also turn workout sessions into long conversations losing focus on the task as hand. So if you’re going with friends, plan in to either chat beforehand (while you’re rolling out!) or afterwards, or make a pact to not turn your workouts into social time. Play detective and keep evaluating your joint workouts as you go along. Keep setting goals together!

8. Build Workouts Around Big Equipment

Although unofficial gym etiquette states you shouldn’t bring your own equipment to the gym, things like mini-bands, resistance tubing and foam rollers are perfectly acceptable. They are also an excellent way to create an efficient workout routine. Pick a piece of equipment that you’re going to use for that particular workout and build your workout around it so you don’t lose your turn. Use your breaks from the equipment to do band rows, bicep curls, tricep kick backs, core rotations, lateral raises: the options are endless! Don’t stay longer than 10 minutes with one machine though, or the gym etiquette police will start giving you the stink eye! Work hard and focused.

xoxo Ash