Workout Timing – Use Self Timing To Keep Workouts on Track


It’s time to start slimming down and tightening up! I’m not talking about your midsection, I’m talking about your workout. Here’s an example of what I mean:

A short while ago there was a guy who came into my gym and spent a good 3-4 hours there. As a bit of a joke, I followed him with a stopwatch and timed how long he was actually exercising. I wasn’t surprised at the result. This poor soul spent so much time on his cell phone and chatting with his buddies, that in 3.75 hours of gym time, he only logged 8.25 minutes of actual exercise!

His workout was filled with useless and unproductive fluff that filled up space in his life and caused his results (what little there was) to come at a considerable cost.

Here are 3 simple ways to trim any weight lifting workout so it won’t take up as much space in your day.

#1. Have a Plan In Place For Your Workout
Lots of folks have long workouts for the same reason why they have large grocery bills. They go through the procedure by just taking this and that, dedicating their resources to just anything that catches their eye as they spend their time walking down the aisles. Problem is, this can cause you to overload your cart in a hurry as well as place every exercise known to man in your workout.

Plus, without a certain stopping point, you can find yourself just taking on set after set without really paying attention to the clock on the wall.

workout-timingThis was a common problem for me when I started working out. I would spend the first hour of a workout on the bench press or the pull down machine and when I was tired and out of time, I squeezed in a smidgen of core work and some half-baked lunges. It’s no wonder my legs never caught up to my arms and back.

When you walk into a gym with a game plan, it’s like going to the grocery store with a list. You can deflect distractions that can steal your resources away from what’s more important and keep you on track to what you really want.

#2. Time Your Rest Periods
This one is a biggie. Many people treat their workouts like a baseball game with lots of waiting, adjusting and scratching.

Once you have a timed rest period in place between sets, there is a certain push that keeps the pace of your workout consistent.

You can use any timing method you like. Some people just use the second hand on the clock on the wall. Others invest in interval timers like a Gymboss or just use a simple stopwatch. You don’t even have to be crazy precise about it either. I often will walk laps around the gym to time a rest period. I’ll do some pull-ups, walk to the front desk and then walk back and as soon as I get back to the pull-up bar, I go again.

It doesn’t matter what method you use, just so long as you are not tempted to let your rest periods stretch and slow down the pace of your workout.

#3. Keep Your Exercise Selection Short
This one was big for me as I once used to have anywhere from 8-12 exercises in a single workout. These days, I have between 3-5 exercises at most.

Having a lower selection can offer some great benefits besides saving you some serious time. First, it can help you focus and really hammer down a choice selection of exercises that really bring you the benefits you’re after. As they often say, a jack of all trades is a master of none. Without a doubt, the most fit people I have ever known, spend most of their time practicing a handful of basic exercises and they master the heck out of them. The second benefit is that you can really get into a great groove or rhythm with just a few exercises for the day. With 8-10 exercises, you can often feel like as soon as you hit your stride on the treadmill, it’s time to hit the weights and once you’re in your dumbbell mode, it’s time to do dips. It’s always nice to just get into a basic rhythm and go all Zen-like as you workout.

Just using one of the above tips will do a lot to trim the excess flab from your workout and leave you with much more time and energy for the other things in life that are important to you outside of the gym.

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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