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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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Skip the Locker Room Routine

Some women spend quite a bit of time in the locker and bathroom area at the gym. Think about it: You go straight to the locker room to use the restroom, remove your makeup, change into your workout clothes and shoes, put your hair up in a bun or ponytail, and then finally head out to exercise. Then when you're done, you're right back in the locker area showering, washing, and blow-drying your hair, moisturizing your body, getting dressed and putting on makeup. Cutting down on the time spent in the locker room can give you a little extra time to work out, or it can allow you to get your workout done sooner so that you're able to move on with the rest of your day. Make sure your gym bag is well organized and has all the items you need and, if possible, change into your workout clothes, remove your makeup and take a bathroom break before you get to the gym (even if it means doing it right before you leave the office). If you're really crunched for time, save your post-workout shower for home so you can simply do a quick wipe-down and go.

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Ditch Your Cell Phone

Next time you're at the gym, take a quick look around—chances are you'll see quite a few people who are more tuned into their phones than their workout. They can be a major time-stealing distraction during sweat sessions, says Patrick Henigan, the owner of Jacksonville Fitness Academy in Jacksonville, FL. What may seem to take only a few seconds—picking a song to pump you up, taking a quick call, responding to an email, checking social media or posing for a few (dozen) snaps to get the perfect gym selfie—actually adds up and reduces the quantity and quality of your workout. Plus, staring down at your phone while you're exercising (or anytime, for that matter) throws off your posture, putting you at risk for pain and injuries.

The most obvious solution is to not take your phone with you when you're working out. If you aren't willing to go quite that far, though, there are other ways to stop letting your cell barge in on your training. "Buy wireless headphones so you never have to fuss with your cord or worry about it jerking out of your ears at an inopportune moment," says Henigan. It'll also allow you to keep your phone somewhere other than your pocket, like in your gym bag. Consider flipping your phone to airplane mode, too. That way you'll still have access to music and training apps, but no calls or texts will come through. And since the goal is to minimize distractions, save any social media checks or web surfing until after you're done.

Photo: Shutterstock

Single-Leg Burpee

Single-Leg Burpee


Stand on left leg with arms by sides. Keeping right leg lifted, crouch and plant hands on floor. Jump left foot back to a single-leg plank.


Lower chest and thighs to floor. Push up to single-leg plank, jump left foot toward hands (if you need to make it easier, jump both feet up).


Then jump, clapping hands overhead. Switch sides; repeat. That's 1 rep.