I get it: you’re really busy juggling work life, home life, having your own life and trying to squeeze a regular gym routine into this busy schedule!

But, simply turning up at the gym isn’t enough, if you’ve only got a few hours each week to dedicate to your training, then make it count. There are plenty of ways to waste your time and I see so many of them virtually every day.

I don’t want you to make those mistakes!

Here are my 7 top ways (not) to waste your time at the gym…


Long Slow Cardio

When I ask a new client what they usually do at the gym, I virtually always hear, “the treadmill or cross-trainer for 20-30 minutes and then some weights…” Who made this programme up that everyone seems to follow? I’d love to find them and slap them!

This is honestly such a bad idea and for a number of reasons…

It is a common misconception that you should spend a certain amount of time doing long, slow cardio during every training session. The truth is that you need to do exercise that is of a high enough intensity to make a positive change. Whether that would be strength training or ‘cardio’ does not matter. Both will make your heart stronger.

Long, slow cardio does not help your muscles grow. In fact, it can even slow down the results. The optimum time to train is around 45 minutes (I’ll go into more detail on this in later articles). So, when you do 30+ minutes of cardio before a workout, fatigue will set in. You will not perform as well during the strength portion. This means you will not hit your muscles as efficiently, you won’t see as much improvement in strength, and you will not build muscle. Since increasing your lean muscle mass is what ultimately keeps you looking slim and toned, you really don’t want to miss out on it.

Pink Dumbbells

Pink dumbbells do literally nothing – give them up

I get it, you don’t want to get bulky. Yes, those pretty pink dumbbells are less intimidating, but you have no reason to fear heavier weights. Think about how much a baby weighs and you girls sling one of them on your hip while you get on with that thing called multi-tasking that us guys have no concept of!

Believe me, you will NOT become too bulky as a woman because your biochemical makeup does not allow it and if you only use the pink dumbells you won’t challenge your body enough to change.

When I create a workout program for a client, the main goal is to keep challenging them. If your body is not under enough pressure to perform better, it will not change. The pink dumbells are simply too light to produce the body’s response. You have to really hit your muscle deep or else it will not make a difference.

Time under tension is a must for your weights workout.

The Recumbent Bike

Chilling out in the gym is a chronic waster of time

I do not know why they even put these at gyms. The only case where I would recommend the recumbent bike is if you are recovering from some serious neck or back issues. Otherwise, it is a complete waste of time.

First off, steady state cardio is virtually pointless. More importantly, people prefer the recumbent bike because they are more comfortable. You can scroll through Instagram while you are “exercising”! This is not efficient exercise and it won’t even get your slightly out of breath! So please, move on to another machine.

Hip Adductor /Adductor Machine

More time wasting

I get it, the image on the side of the machine shows you that this is the best machine to tone your butt and develop that elusive thigh gap! But don’t believe the hype. The hip abduction/adduction machines are not only inefficient, they are also dangerous. The muscles that they work don’t typically engage in an isolated exercise. Their job is to keep you stable while doing a complex movement. Just in general, isolation exercises are not a great way to go. Ditch this now and learn to squat properly!

Checking Your Phone

Don’t be tempted to check your phone in the gym!

One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing people simply sitting on the machine and scrolling through their emails. Seriously, can people not bear to be away from their mobiles for even half an hour? The gym should be time for you, away from distractions, away from work and away from whatever other people are up to on social media!

Just looking at it during rest periods doesn’t count either! Use that time effectively. Drink water, slow your breathing down, log your workout, stretch and then prepare to go again.

Not Recording Your Workouts

If you have a personal trainer they will do that for you. Even so, I still encourage my clients to keep a workout journal.

The basic premise, if you are working out by yourself, is to:
1. Before the workout, write down exactly what you are going to do.
2. Record your weights and the number of reps and sets you perform
3. After the workout, review how you feel.

It is as simple as that. You do not want to spend too much time on it but workout tracking is an amazing way to ensure that one way or another, you achieve progress in every session.

Going In Without a Plan

It usually happens in January. People would rush into their local gyms determined not to break their resolution this year. By February hardly any of them is a regular.

The harsh truth about exercise is that you will not see results when you want them to appear. It will take persistence. The trouble is if you don’t have a plan, you will struggle to keep up the good work. Not only that but once you do start to see results, you will often hit a plateau (as you have gotten used to a routine that no longer challenges you).

If you want your time at the gym to count long-term, make a long-term plan. Set monthly goals, or even bi-weekly goals. You can take inspiration from workout plans online. Keep in mind, however, that these are geared to the general public and might not fit your specific needs. Research and ask a lot of questions. This blog, for one, is a space where I would love to help you out with any doubts you might have. Just leave them in comments!

Stop wasting your time and make each workout count!

Good luck.