10 Ways To Increase Your Gym Productivity

ways to increase gym productivity

We don’t know about you, but when we hit the gym, we waste a helluva lot of time doing all sorts of things that don’t vaguely resemble anything productive. We wander over to the drinking fountain 5 too many times, chat with our buddies for 20 minutes prior to starting, and sit on a bench and gaze around the gym at the hotties for 5 extra minutes per body part. Is all this necessary? Well, it depends how you look at it. We personally think that drooling over eye candy is never a waste of time. And, if you are unemployed and don’t have much but the gym going on, it probably doesn’t matter from a time management standpoint, whereas it would matter if you worked a full day and needed to get in and out of the gym in order to have personal time in the evening with family.

But productivity doesn’t just speak to time constraints, it speaks to overall effectiveness and how much you can accomplish during any single period of time, and that’s the real point. How can you maximize the time you spend in the gym to make nearly everything you do productive and meaningful? We have 10 tips that might help!

Workout Log

Workout logs may seem tedious and old-fashioned, but there are no shortcuts to keeping track of what you’re doing. A workout log can also tell you if you are generally productive or not when in the gym, based on seeing your rest times in black and white and your progress in a body composition test. Assessing productivity is a good start because it allows you to see which elements of your program are effective and which are not. Plus, you have a well-detailed map of exactly what you’ve been doing in past weeks so that you can determine where to take the next phase of your workouts. Ultimately, this is highly productive because it allows you to pare down until you find what is both effective and productive. There are plenty of pre-printed workout logs available or you might find a format you like online.

When Resting in Between Heavy Sets of Legs, Do Abs

This is a great trick of the trade because it shaves off at least 15 minutes that you normally devote to working abs or calves at the end of your workout. Not only does this same time, but it also lets you work abs or calves prior to being more physically exhausted and mentally distracted. We recommend that you work a body part like abdominals in between sets of unrelated body parts, like legs, whereas we recommend you work a body part like calves in between heavy sets of back or chest. This allows you to completely rest the surrounding areas of the major body part you are working, so you don’t further exhaust yourself or compromise your primary workout.

Gather Tools You Need Ahead of Time

Prior to starting to work on a particular body part, gather dumbbells, plan out paths to machines and generally equip yourself in one particular area of the gym. Generally, gyms are planned out this way, so that convenience and easy access to the same family of machines is possible. But if you’re going to superset or do giant sets or a circuit, it’s important to plan before starting. This is particularly true when you are taking little rest between sets and are training, unrelated, body parts in between. For instance, if you are doing legs and planning on doing sets of crunches in between, grab a workout mat and set it by the squat rack so you can drop and do 50. Planning on doing biceps in between sets of squats? Bring straight bars and dumbbells over to the squat rack.


Headphones—with or without music flowing through them—send a clear message to other gym members to leave you alone during workouts. This allows you to get on with your business without interruption. Many professional athletes and celebrities have done this to keep autograph hounds at bay, and get their workouts in without a disruption of the flow of things. Choose something upbeat and motivational if you are, in fact, playing music. If they’re just props, make sure the cord is tucked in so no one guesses your ruse!

Plan Before Going In

It’s good to work your body in an instinctive way, but leave instinct for the fine points of each workout, and not the plan for the day. Have an idea, either by way of using a log or just making a mental note, of what you’re going to do on any given day so that you go in prepared to walk right to the area and get busy. No one said you can’t change elements of your workout based on how you feel on that day, but having a plan allows you to get down to business fast and prevent wasted time deciding which exercises you’ll do.

Use a Training Partner to Keep You on Track

A training partner can keep you on track by keeping you focused, motivated, and on a set rest time between sets schedule. Focus is important because it allows you the intensity you need to build mass and put your mind in your muscle. Motivation is also an element that cannot be overlooked because it keeps you coming back and excited about your workout. The more enthusiastic you become about things, the more care you’ll take planning and executing workouts. And who can beat a built-in spotter or someone who keeps your rest times timed perfectly?

Incorporate Cardio Into Workout Itself

Cardio workouts are usually something a person does either before, but usually at the end, of a workout. While getting on a bike can be a nice relief to stretch out tight muscles and get pooled blood out of the legs, it can be the one thing we all sacrifice when time is a factor. If time is tight, rather than risk not getting your cardio workout in for that day, why not incorporate it into your actual workout, and get out of the gym twice as fast? Circuit training isn’t just for the inexperienced trainee; it can actually be a great way to learn to build endurance while maintaining strength. And while, mentally, you may not feel as though you’re doing quite as much, or being as intense, it’s merely the difference between drawing intensity from weight hoisted, and drawing intensity from pace and endurance.

Stretch in Between Sets

The debate about stretching before or after a workout rages on to this day. We’ve always felt that stretching after being warmed up is much safer, but there’s no reason to tack on extra time at the end of your grueling workout getting some stretching in. Why not stretch during those 1-2 minute rest periods instead? Over time, it can truly help increase your range of motion, and in the interim, can help you rid your body of the build up of lactic acid and pooled blood that accumulates during a heavy set. Stretching in between will make you more comfortable and productive during your next set, as well as providing a means to recover faster the next time.

Tight Schedule? Do Half Body Circuit Workouts During Busy Weeks

Think circuits are for sissies and newbies? Think again! Not only are they great time savers, they can also jumpstart your workouts again by confusing the body into a much-needed change of rhythm. During a busy week, try doing upper body Monday, lower body Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and then repeat it on Thursday and Friday and take the weekend off. Chances are, after a busy workweek, a good lazy weekend is in order. You can also do your upper and lower body splits on the weekend, back to back, and do a full body circuit on a Wednesday during a really busy week. This may sound like it isn’t enough, but if you move at an intense pace, keep your weights up, and use plenty of superset type work, you can get a lot accomplished in a little time. Sometimes, less is more.

Work Out at Times When the Gym is Least Crowded

This is a great efficiency tool because you can move freely between machines without risking that there will be a line or that you’ll have to stumble over bodies to get to your next exercise. Whether it’s an hour before close, or its 5am, choosing these unpopular time slots can be rewarding in terms of getting the work done with fewer distractions.