How can I avoid wasting time at the gym?

 While your fitness efforts may be paying off when you look in the mirror, chances are you could be getting the same -- if not better -- results in a shorter amount of time if you cut out exercise time-wasters. Here are the top five to trim from your routine.
  • Getting too much rest. It's true that your muscles should get a bit of rest in between intense workouts, but sitting idly on the machine or standing around the water fountain isn't doing you any favors. Instead, separate your exercises into muscle-specific moves. That way, while you do a set for one muscle group, your other groups are resting. Or, do cardiovascular exercise in between strength training to burn more calories and promote muscle recovery.
  • Watching TV or reading. It might make working out more bearable, but watching TV or reading while you sweat it out can make your workouts longer because you could go easy on yourself while you're focused on these activities.
  • Chatting with friends. The buddy system is a great way to stay motivated, but it's important to keep your socializing to a minimum when you're getting down to business. You might not achieve your maximum cardio potential if you're trying to save enough breath to tell your pal about your latest life happenings. Isolate the chitchat to warm-ups and cool-downs.
  • Using the wrong form. No matter how much time you spend doing exercises and how much energy you exert while you're at them, you're wasting your time if you're doing the moves incorrectly. If you don't have the right form, you could be hurting or straining your muscles, and you're probably not getting the benefits you think you are. Do some research online and watch a few videos to learn the proper methods, or ask a trainer at your gym for a demo.
  • Doing too many reps. It might seem like doing 20, 40 or 60 reps on a weight machine is a good idea, but you can get better results quicker if you just increase the weight you're using. If you're using the proper amount of weight, you shouldn't be able to do that many reps. Anywhere from eight to 15 reps is standard for general muscle conditioning. If you feel like you could do more, add weight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.