Knowing exactly what you want to happen from your gym time is crucial to creating a plan of action, but having a ‘plan B’ to the decided path is just as important. Life happens, you can’t always spend as much time in the gym that you planned. People in the gym happen too! I can’t begin to explain the frustration of going to the gym, too many people are all over the place and every machine or exercise that I want to do is being occupied. But, because telling someone, “you’re in my way, get off the machine” is considered rude in most social circles, you need to have backup plans on how to accomplish what you need. There’s also the circumstances where your body just isn’t up to the challenge either because of an injury or soreness. The good news is that all of these situations can be handled, and your goals do not get derailed.
It really would be amazing if you walk into the gym and there are about four other people in there that are far, far away from all the machines and weights you intend on using. Unfortunately, this dream doesn’t happen all that frequently. As a matter of fact, I don’t recall a time in the history of my gym attendance that this has happened to me. Peak hours at the gym are typically when I can get there, around five to eight at night. To my surprise, there’s even a good number of people in the gym in the morning before work starts. Regardless of when you plan on working out, there will be other people in the gym wanting to use the same equipment you need.
Plan for some of the exercises you intend on doing to not be possible because the equipment isn’t available. For example, if you’re intending on doing front squats and there isn’t a squat rack available, grab a pair of dumbbells for walking lunges and find a straight line that doesn’t have many people around. Walking lunges are the same form of motion and an excellent exercise to build and work the quadriceps muscles. Think of exercises similar to what you have already planned and keep them as acceptable backup for the workout.
There’s also instances in which you’re running out of time or you have to leave the gym suddenly. This is not the end of the world. A majority of people like to over train. Just because you have the time to do four sets of ten exercises for a small muscle group does not mean that you should. Leg day should not translate into half of the morning in the gym consisting of ten booty builders and ten hamstring exercises.
Three to four sets of four to six exercises per muscle group is plenty to give you the results that you want without overtraining. Putting the body through unnecessary stress without adequate time to recover is counterproductive – it can create extra fatigue, lack of appetite, lack of muscle growth and restless sleep. With that said, if you’re like me and have a tendency to over-train, cutting a workout short once in a while is probably a good thing. Extra rest can provide your body the needed recovery that you fail to take the time to do.
Life can get busy and leave little time to be in the gym some weeks or even weeks at a time. Adjust your planning accordingly to what time you have available to make your fitness regime functional for your lifestyle. Work and family could possibly need more attention than normal for a brief time in your life, like a new project or family crisis, which allows you to be in the gym only three days a week rather than six. Create a plan that will still accomplish your specific goals, but with less gym time. Combine multiple muscle groups with less exercises per each grouping on every available day in the gym. Cardio is easily done outside of the gym by going for walks or jogs around the neighborhood or even doing sprints in front of your house in the street or backyard. Dedicate the time in the gym to lifting weights with equipment not readily available to you anywhere else. Let cardio be done at the most convenient times and places possible.
Keeping priorities and balancing life with your fitness needs can be frustrating. With some creativity and thought out backup plans, keeping active and fit while working towards your goals is completely possible. A few bumps in the road from busy gyms to hectic lives can slow progress a bit, but it’s not a reason to abandon your desire to achieve what you want in your physique.
Written by: Samantha Meinrod