I see it all the time, in every gym I have been to, and honestly, have been guilty of it a time or two myself. At some point in time, I think every gym-goer has wasted time during their workout. Here are a few ways that you waste time, and ways that you can avoid it.
1.) Talking, and talking, and talking. Every once in a while it is okay to engage in a small amount of chit-chat in the gym, but don’t make it a habit and don’t let the conversation last longer than two minutes. You have work to do and you don’t need to let a discussion about something that happened to your buddy last week, issues going on at work, or last night’s ball game keep you from completing your workout.
2.) Taking extra long rest breaks. Although your rest time between sets varies depending on what you are doing (heavy weight/low rep sets must have longer rest periods than higher rep/light weight), you need to rest appropriately between sets. If you rest too long between sets then you lose the intensity you need to stimulate muscle growth, thereby resulting in stagnation and a plateau. To avoid taking extra long rest breaks, wear a watch or keep a stopwatch nearby and time yourself.
3.) Waiting on machines, equipment, etc. So you want to squat but the squat racks are being used so you wait, and wait, and wait until it becomes available. Wrong move. If what you want to use is currently occupied then move on to the next exercise and come back to it. Your workout will not be ruined just because you did leg press before squats.
4.) Doing the same exercises over and over again. Have you been doing the same workout plan, same weights, same reps and sets for weeks and still haven’t seen results? Do you feel like a hamster on a wheel when you go to the gym? The problem could lie within your training plan. You need to change it up every now and again. Shock your muscles with heavier weights, new exercises, or new types of training (i.e. supersets, negatives, 21s, etc.).
5.) Posting, emailing, texting from your phone. Besides talking, I think this is the biggest distracter. You’re doing shoulders or arms and get a massive pump and feel you just have to show this off. You pull out your phone, take a picture, then create this long post on your favorite social media site. Or someone texts you and this conversation turns into 30 text exchanges. Before you know it, you’ve been sitting there on the leg extension machine, on your phone for 10 minutes. Make it a strict practice to wait until after the workout to take pictures, reply to emails or texts, and don’t answer the phone unless it is an emergency.
Taking these baby steps to avoid wasting time will not only optimize your workout, but will also free your schedule up for other fun things!