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Skip the Isolation Moves

We're not saying bicep curls or tricep kickbacks don't have their place in a good training plan, but training just biceps, triceps, and other smaller muscles can waste a lot of time. Doug Barsanti, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of ReInvention Fitness, recommends doing compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, pullups, and pushups instead, as they target multiple muscles at once. "Working the big muscles creates a better metabolic environment for fat loss, and working more muscles with fewer exercises saves time in the gym," he says. Another bonus: "When using compound exercises, you're also working the coordination between the small muscles that stabilize you and the big muscles that move you, which is important for developing strength and fitness you can use outside the gym."

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Bring your own...bottle. You know, to make sure you're hydrated while working up a sweat. Trekking to the water fountain, waiting in line, and then making your way back to your workout area steals precious minutes from your workout, though, so fill 'er up before you walk through those gym doors. (Psst: Check out the hydration tips every fit girl needs.) 

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Cut the Chatter

You don't have to be anti-social at the gym, but stopping to say hi to this person and that buddy can quickly lead to a long conversation. To discourage gym gabbers, have your earbuds in as soon as you hit the front door. That signals to others that you're not there to talk but rather get sh*t done. Same goes even if you have a workout partner:. Arrange your routine so that the two of you arrive at a specific time, work out for a certain amount of time, and then catch up over a recovery smoothie after.

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But Be Flexible

Just because you plan your workout in advance doesn't mean you can't stray from it at times. If you plan to do 20 minutes on the treadmill but they're full, or you need the squat rack and they're all being used, don't stand (or worse, sit) around waiting. Find another machine or do a different exercise that targets the same muscles. For instance, if you can't use the squat rack, do the leg press machine or lunges. If you must use equipment that is already in use, ask the person if you can work in with him or her between sets, or do something active (like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, jumping rope or stretching) while you wait for the machine or equipment to be free. (Try this no-equipment circuit workout while you wait.) 

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Go In with a Plan

Walking into the gym and winging it is one of the easiest ways to let time slip away. "You end up walking around from machine to machine, without any idea of what you want to do," says Jessica Thiefels, a certified personal trainer and owner of Honest Body Fitness in San Diego. Working out on the fly means you have to figure out which exercises to do and then how much weight, how many sets, and the number of reps you want to do for each of those exercises, which typically translates to an unfocused, unproductive workout, says Thiefels.

So, it's important to go in with a plan. "Writing a long-term workout plan (monthly, for example) allows you to write in the progression you need to meet that goal, while writing your workouts at the beginning of the week or the night before allows you to base your plan on how you're feeling that week or day," says Thiefels. Once you've come up with your outline, save your workouts. That way if you're feeling lazy or don't have time to plan a workout in the future, you can use one of your old ones and get started ASAP.

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