5 Tips For Maximizing Your Workout When The Gym Gets Super Crowded
You know that feeling you get when you step into the gym and find every inch of space packed with sweaty gymgoers? It’s a sight that would make most people turn on their heels and run in the opposite direction. And we get it — it’s hard to keep yourself motivated to exercise when your workout space is packed to the brim. What’s more, it can be difficult to keep your workouts effective and efficient when so much of the equipment is being used by other exercisers. Luckily, there are things you can do to get a workout in without spending hours at the gym when it’s super crowded. Here are five tips you can use the next time you head to the gym during peak hours.
1. Hit the gym with a game plan.
Instead of winging your workouts, decide what exercises you’re going to do for your workout before you get there. Figure out exactly which exercises you’re going to do, what sequence you’re going to do them in and how many repetitions and sets you’re going to complete for each exercise. Knowing what type of equipment you’ll need for your workouts ahead of time will allow you to claim that equipment before you begin so you won’t need to take unnecessary breaks during your sweat sesh to search for it. Planning out your exercises ahead of time also allows you to spend less time at the gym since you won’t be wasting time thinking about what exercise you want to do next. Plenty of apps, such as Sworkit and Freeletics, help you plan your workouts ahead of time, giving you suggestions of specific exercises that you can pair to exercise each muscle group.
2. Stick to supersets.
A superset is when you do two or more exercises back to back with little-to-no rest in between. Doing supersets when the gym is crowded will make it easier for you to work in with other people when you’re trying to use specific equipment. Instead of waiting around idly for someone to stop using the squat rack, for example, take that time to do some pushups or a plank to maximize your time at the gym. Since these exercises work different muscle groups, you’ll give your lower body time to rest without having to take additional breaks in between each exercise. Supersets are also great if you’re trying to build muscle because they increase the intensity of your workout and allow you to overload specific muscles, thus promoting growth.
3. Use the same set of dumbbells for multiple exercises.
Instead of jumping from machine to machine — which is pretty difficult to do without waiting in line when the gym is crowded — try doing all of your exercises with only a few sets of dumbbells or a barbell. This way, you can claim a single spot in the gym and do all of your exercises in one place without having to move around and risk losing your spot or tripping over people. You can easily use even just one dumbbell to workout multiple muscle groups. For example, you can transition from single-arm overhead presses (which work your shoulder muscles) to single-arm dumbbell rows (which work your middle back) to dumbbell sumo squats (which work your inner thighs, glutes and quads) to dumbbell deadlifts (which work your glutes, hamstrings and core), all using only one dumbbell.
4. If you’re planning on using workout machines, plan free-weight alternatives as well.
Although workout machines might be less intimidating and more straightforward to use than free weights, it’s hard to count on their availability when the gym gets crowded. Chances are high that you’ll have to wait in line to use a machine, which is not an option for a busy bee like you who needs to keep moving. The good news is that you can do most of the exercises that you would typically do on workout machines with free weights or just your bodyweight instead.
For instance, instead of waiting for the popular hamstring curl machine, you could do hamstring curls by lying on your back, placing your heels on a stability ball, lifting your hips off of the floor and slowly rolling the stability ball in so that your heels meet your butt, and back out again. If you do plan to use workout machines during peak hours at the gym, prep a list of alternative exercises that can be done to work those same muscle groups using free weights so you won’t be forced to waste your valuable time.
5. Don’t hesitate to ask to work in with someone.
It might seem intimidating at first, but if you’re trying to use the machine that someone has been idly sitting on for the past 10 minutes, don’t hesitate to ask if you can get a quick set in. You’re not being a jerk —you’re just subtly and kindly reminding that person that this isn’t their home gym and that they need to be more mindful of sharing the equipment with everybody. Chances are that they’ll grumpily agree to let you work in with them. But don’t take it too personally. After all, it’s hard to be friendly when you’re in a crowded room full of sweaty people!
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