You're busy and you've got plenty of things that can distract you from your training on any given day. Stuff comes up, some days you're tired, and there's always another excuse between you and your next workout. But there's 1 thing that will dictate your success in your strength training above all else. Consistency.
You must be consistent in your training to continue making progress and getting stronger. When the rest of your life gets complicated use these ideas to simplify your workouts and focus on what's most important.
Here are 5 ways you can simplify your gym time without sacrificing results. Let me know what you think is the best way to simplify training and workouts by sharing in the comments below.
1. SKIP AB WORK
If you're squatting, deadlifting, carrying, or other types of big compound lifts, you're getting some abdominal training. There's definitely a time and place for abs on abs on abs training when you're struggling to hit PRs in certain lifts or if you're just trying to develop the stability needed to perform big lifts well. But much of the time people are spending too much time with ab training anyway. Skip the 10 minute abs at the end of your training, and get out of the gym to eat and recover.
2. CHOOSE 1 EXERCISE PER WORKOUT
Just like abs, skip all the accessory work too. Wanna build that bench press or squat? Just bench press or just squat. Nothing improves a specific lift like doing that specific lift. So if you're strapped for time just focus on the most important lift in your workout. Build up to 1 or 2 heavy sets of 3-5, then reduce the weight and do 3-5 sets of 8. This will allow you to focus all your energy and efforts into that lift, without concern of all the other stuff you will have to do after. And if you're in a real rush, just hit the 1 heavy set and get out. You can be consistent in your training and strength gains in under 30 minutes!
3. DON'T STRETCH
Full range of motion movements do plenty to increase and maintain your flexibility most of the time. Practicing a good squat, overhead press, pull up, turkish get up, or snatch is a great way to stay mobile without spending an extra half hour after your workouts trying to reach your toes. You can find plenty of reasons to quit stretching at Steve Gangemi's blog, but suffice it to say that many can get by without it and do well by consistently performing complex movements. Just skip this stuff unless you have tight muscle that is keeping you from performing an exercise correctly.
4. REPEAT 1 WORKOUT
You don't always need a fancy A/B split, body part split, or westside program. It might take too much mental effort to change things up all the time. Dan John proposed a long time ago that one of his best training programs ever was the 40 day challenge he was given by Pavel Tatsouline to just consistently repeat the same workout everyday for 40 days without ever training to excessive fatigue or failure. I've personally made great progress with myself and others by just squatting everyday. Think less and submit to routine, even if its just 3 days per week. Treat each exercise as a skill and practice doing it better each day.
5. STOP COUNTING REPS
Counting over 5 is hard. So quit counting your middle to high rep work. Grab a Gymboss Interval Timer and just set a 20 to 40 second timer. Hit the start button and do as many great controlled reps as you can without setting the weight down. While you're at it you can set the rest period as well so you don't have to worry about how much you're yacking between sets and just follow the beeps with each exercise. Making use of an interval timer is also a much more efficient way to perform circuits or exercises that don't necessarily lend themselves well to counting, like crawling or carrying things.
STAY CONSISTENT AND SIMPLIFY
So there you have it. Break some of the rules that complicate your training. Make things easy so you can focus on the things that really matter, like intensity and effort in your big lifts. There is no natural phenomenon that occurs when you've spent exactly 1 hour in the gym so feel free to get out quicker, prep more real food, and get good rest. What do you do to simplify training?