You’ve heard this before. Everyone has the same 24 hours a day; if you don’t have time for something, it’s not a priority; if the CEO/mother of ten/business owner/PhD student can find time for a spin class before work, why can’t you?
Part of that is true. There’s no getting around the fact that you have to prioritize your fitness and allocate the necessary time.
Still, that doesn't make it easy. Family is a priority, and work, and the other 3000 things that build a healthy and happy lifestyle.
It's true that even one hour of training, several days a week, will bring you pretty good general health (coupled with nutrition and healthy habits, of course). Still, few competitive CrossFitters are satisfied with that. We all want more.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to make the time you spend in the gym - whether that’s forty-five minutes, an hour, or three - the most valuable it can be. Here are a few.
1. Plan your workouts
If you’re joining in with the classes consistently, you’re home free with this one. Getting the most out of your WOD can be as simple as chatting to whoever is responsible for programming. Chances are, they’ve got a larger plan in place; if you’re only able to come to three or four classes a week, ask which days will provide the most beneficial balance of strength, conditioning, and gymnastic work. Make sure your plan aligns with your coach’s vision for that cycle.
If you’re following your own programming, you have a bit more work to do. Still, the most important part is knowing the plan when you walk into the gym. Don’t waste time deciding on your rep scheme when you’re warming up.
2. Reduce rest
If you have a lot of volume to get through in a short amount of time, consider cutting back on your rest. That might mean working at a lower percentage of your overall output so you can adequately recover in a shorter time slot. Is it ideal? No. But neither is not finishing your programmed workload.
3. Use extra time wisely
Make two lists: one of all your strengths, and one of all your weaknesses. If you’re anything like me, your list of strengths is going to include movements you enjoy; your weaknesses are probably movements you would rather never do again (looking at you, burpees).
Whenever you have spare time that you can spend in the gym, choose two of your weaknesses and one strength.
My last one looked like this:
Toes to bar (weakness)
Wall balls (strength)
Quick, simple, and a good starting point to helping you become a better-rounded athlete.
(If you’re hardcore, pick all weaknesses. I get too frustrated by workouts like that, and prefer to throw in a movement I love.)
4. Remember the big picture
Keep in mind that improvements are made in the gym, in the kitchen, and in your downtime. You have to eat, so make sure your nutrition is geared towards your goals. Recovery is vital for proper training, so do everything you can to get 6-9 hours of uninterrupted rest.
Muscle building, weight loss, injury rehabilitation, anything - it’s all dependent on your overall lifestyle. It’s not just about the volume.
Train smart. Use your gym time carefully, stay on track with nutrition, and rest as necessary. Results will follow.