10 Ways to Workout Smarter….not Harder

Every day I go to the gym and I see the same people doing the same workouts.

  • Runners get on a treadmill and run
  • Yoginis perform their poses
  • Bodybuilders squeeze & flex their muscles
  • Powerlifters lift heavy stuff
  • Aerobicizers attend their group fitness classes
  • And the dude at my gym who wears Adidas soccer shorts from 1978 stretches out his hamstrings threatening to dislodge his “fellas” from their cotton prison (the horror…the horror)

And while all of these activities are laudable and are infinitely better for you than sitting on the couch eating chips and watching reality tv, they all have their limitations. And since it is a new year, I thought it was the perfect time to outline 10 ways to workout smarter…achieving better results, in less time, with fewer aches & pains.

Tip # 1 – High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT

There is an ever growing body of evidence showing that HIIT workouts are superior to traditional cardio training in almost every conceivable way.

  • Less time required per workout – I never, ever perform more than 20 min on a HIIT workout
  • Reduced chance of overuse injuries – just ask a runner about their aches & pains
  • Faster & greater improvements to the cardio-vascular system
  • Increased fat loss due to increased levels of EPOC  (Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)
  • Increased total body strength
hiit sprints before and aft1 10 Ways to Workout Smarter....not Harder

Before HIIT – After HIIT

To recap, HIIT takes up less of your time, is easier on your body, is better at improving the function of your heart & lungs and will help make you stronger and leaner more efficiently than cardio training. Sounds pretty smart to me.

Here are a bunch of articles I have written on HIIT to get you started:

Next Page : Movements not Muscles…

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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

6 Comments

  1. John

    April 27, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Definitely an advocate of a lot of things in this article. I’m always trying to find ways to be more efficient since I work ~60 hours per week.

    A few comments/additions to your points:

    #3 – Mini-workouts
    I’m a big advocate of “no days off.” What I mean by this is not to not take rest days, but to keep your body moving on rest days, even if it’s a simple walk. Sometimes after a 14 hour day I want a short buffer before I go to bed, but don’t have the energy to workout. When this happens I’ll do a light warm-up, then stretch, just to keep my body active. It’s also a great time to focus on my stretching since it’s often thrown in the background when I’m cramped for time.

    #6 – Focus on your weaknesses
    I think there’s a small exception to this. I find when I’m in a slump it’s best to focus on my strengths. I rode a 5 year high with my workouts (had maybe 3 slow one month periods), then hit a 9-10 month wall with sporadic workouts (long story) and two entire months with nothing more than walking. I was completely demoralized. When I returned to the gym I always wanted to quit when I couldn’t do what I could before. I found for the first few workouts back it was really great for my confidence to do workouts where I hadn’t regressed and could still outperform almost everyone I knew. It really provided a lot of psychological momentum to build off and get back into my routine.

    #9 – Free your mind
    Couldn’t agree more. During that 10 month spell my boss had me sign up for a relaxation course (I notice you’re based in Toronto, so Google “Eli Bay” if you’re interested) and it really changed my life. Workouts used to be my stress reliever, but I had gotten to the point where I was too stressed to even work out. Meditating helped get me back to the gym. I plan on writing an entire post on my blog that I just started (iamprojectbeastmode.weebly.com) in the future. Anyone who is into meditating/deep breathing/relaxation I’d highly recommend Calm.com (I listen to it while I work, while I meditate, and sometimes while I sleep).

    #10 – Nutrients
    I’m amazed by how little people know about the basics of timing your eating. My cousin came to me for nutrition advice before his Muay Thai test to advance to the next level at his gym. I simply told him to make sure he only ate things from the 4 food groups, drink water and eat every 2-3 hours the 24 hours leading up to the test, to eat a big meal 2-3 hours before, then to have a light snack (e.g. banana) an hour before. He was bouncing up and down after his test telling me how good he felt. Drives me nuts when people go on about gluten free, Paleo, organic…blah, blah, blah…yet many I see aren’t even following basic rules like these.

    Question for you: I’m also a big fan of Kelly Starrett. Do you know anyone similar I could read into (even if they’re not that well-known)? I really like his stuff, I just try to make a conscious effort to read things from a variety of people.

  2. Daniel

    February 18, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Well i agree HIIT is one of most effective ways to lose weight and get in great shape. But its also one of the hardest exercises. After no other exercise i feel so tired and out of breath.

  3. fivian liverpool

    January 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    All of your before-after photos are fake, thus I believe none of the things written here.

    • Douglas Robb

      January 13, 2014 at 11:11 am

      They are obviously fake (that was my intention), and if you can’t realize that, I doubt that you would be able to understand the concepts covered in this article anyway. Feel free to travel over to Livestrong or Women’s Health or FitSugar. Their articles are probably more your speed.

  4. Brit

    January 11, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    My problem with your mini-workouts is still the fact that if I’m exercising with any intensity, I’m going to get sweaty/smelly enough to require a shower, and all the make-up/hair that goes along with it.

    • Douglas Robb

      January 11, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      Great points Brit – this may not be the best tip for you….and a bunch of other people.