Christmas is not a time to be stressing about exercise so please do not beat yourself up if you don’t get to the gym as much as you’d like!
As the festive season approaches, the amount of time you can dedicate to exercise might take a back seat, so here are 4 ways to increase the intensity of your workouts to ensure your sessions remain as effective and as time-efficient as possible.
Supersets, tri sets, drop sets, negatives
If you have 90 minutes to workout every day, then performing straight sets with maximal weights and longer rest makes sense. If however, you find yourself with only 30 to 45 minutes to work out, then a great way to increase intensity would be to incorporate different set structures into your sessions.
For example, performing 2-3 exercises back to back with minimal rest in between. Or, incorporating additional work in the form of drop sets, or negatives, enabling a greater amount of volume and muscular fatigue in a shorter amount of time.
Now, these systems should not be used all the time, and performing straight sets should form the bulk of your workouts. However, if you are short on time and looking to achieve muscular failure in a time-efficient manner, then be sure to incorporate some of these into your workouts.
Full-body vs split workouts
Now, if you are completely set on maintaining a split such as a push, pull, legs and you have the time to do so, then that’s fine. However, if you are only able to get into the gym a couple of times a week, and more often than not, your planned 3 days a week, ends up being more like 2 or 2.5 resulting in either a mediocre session or a missed body part, then why not switch to a full-body workout.
Two full-body workouts a week are better than a push session, a pull session, and a missed leg session (or vice-versa). Beyond this, if your aim is to stay lean then full-body workouts are again your friend as you’ll burn more calories due to hitting more major muscle groups every time you hit the gym. The structure of full-body workouts can vary massively but if you find yourself short on time, give the workout below a go, or tailor the exercises and reps as desired.
20-minute EMOM (every minute on the minute, complete the prescribed reps for that specific minute and then rest for the remainder of the minute).
1st minute – 12 barbell bulgarian split squats (Left leg),
2nd minute – 12 barbell bulgarian split squats (Right leg),
3rd minute – 12 barbell overhead presses,
4th minute – 12 pull-ups/rows
5th minute – 12 burpees OR rest.
Perform with a weight that makes the reps challenging but not impossible to complete whilst avoiding going to failure (in the first few rounds).
Add finishers to your workout
The best thing about finishers? They can be absolutely anything you want. Feel like you didn’t hit your shoulders as much as you would’ve liked in your push day? Add in a shoulder-focused finisher. Want to hit some core work? Add in a core finisher.
Feel like you want to finish your workout with a bit of a sweat after your heavy lifting? Add in a cardio-focused finisher. Get as creative as you want with them, no finisher ever needs to be the same. By adding finishers, you ensure you finish the session at a high intensity. Again, a win-win when short on time.
Your go-to home workout
Lastly, have a go-to home workout that you can perform whenever you don’t manage to get to the gym. Whilst it doesn’t have to be the same every time, repeating a workout that you know is effective, time-efficient and full-body is often a better choice rather than aimlessly throwing movements together without direction.
What’s more, repeating the same workout, or potentially making the reps slightly harder, will ensure progress and create a bit of inner competition with yourself to beat your previous time. All of this will ensure you are still working as hard as you would in the gym.
I hope this helps and a big Merry Christmas!