Imagine the scenario. You’ve had a busy day at work, you’ve got chores to do when you get home and you could really do with a full eight hours of kip tonight. You’ve managed to find the time to squeeze in a visit to the gym, but when you get there the January rush means every piece of equipment is in use and any space big enough to hop/skip/jump in is already taken.

In this situation, we’d all want to be in and out of the gym as quickly as possible, but at the same time we wouldn’t want our workouts to suffer. So when you’re strapped for time (as well as space and equipment), how can you make your time in the gym as productive as possible?


1. Have a plan

Whether you’ve decided to run/row/bike and how long for, chosen the muscle group(s) you’re going to work on, or have a whole workout written down in front of you, have a plan. People watching is great fun when you’ve got hours to waste, but looking to other people for ideas and inspiration of what to do next means you’re not getting down to the important stuff. Having a workout planned will also motivate you to stay until you’re finished, rather than calling it a day when you’re bored or out of ideas.

2. Know your alternatives

You’ve got your plan, but someone is hogging the machine you want to use next, or the dumbbells you need seem to have disappeared. Knowing alternative exercises you can swap into your plan will allow you to carry on with, without having to wait around for anyone else. Near enough all exercises have an alternative.

3. Fuel up beforehand

If you want to make the most of your workout, you need sufficient energy levels to do so. If you haven’t recently had a main meal, a pre-workout snack will give you a little energy boost, allowing you to push that little bit harder in your workout.

4. Stay hydrated

Similarly to eating beforehand, make sure you have drunk enough water too. Being dehydrated will leave you feeling tired and sluggish, which doesn’t make for a good workout either.

5. Choose compound exercises

There’s nothing wrong with exercises that isolate a particular muscle, but you’ll get more done in less time by choosing moves that require the use of more than one muscle group to perform. Think rows, squats, deadlifts and pull ups.

6. Time your rests

Time really does fly (whether you’re having fun or not), and before you know it you’ve wasted five minutes between a set chatting away to a friend/scrolling through Instagram/trying to find the perfect workout tune to play next. Keep an eye on the clock to keep your rests consistent. Not only will this benefit your workout, but it’ll mean you’re finished quicker too.

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