Making the Most of Training in a Busy Gym - Three practical ways to deal with a crowded gym

Making the Most of Training in a Busy Gym - Three practical ways to deal with a crowded gym

Among the most common New Year’s resolutions are losing fat and gaining muscle, and the first step in achieving these goals is joining a gym or using the gym membership you already have. The problem is, a lot of people do just that after the holiday season, causing overcrowding in gyms everywhere.

There are many variables that determine how many members actually use their gym membership. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, in 2010 the number of gym memberships reached a new record of 50.2 million. However, the participation rate varied from state to state. For example, Massachusetts had an estimated 25.1 percent attendance and Alabama had a rate of 10.2 percent. So if you live in Alabama and are paying $10 a month to work out, you may not need to read on.

Other than changing gyms and moving to Alabama, there are several strategies you can use to get all your sets in without spending several hours in a gym. Here are three of them.

1. Focus on Station Training. One of the most popular methods of training is called circuit training. It’s a system of integrating several components of fitness into a single workout (a training method that was formally introduced in 1953 by physiologists at the University of Leeds in England). A circuit combines several exercises, usually about ten, so that no two major muscles groups are worked at the same time and no rest intervals are established between sets. However, unless there are separate areas of the gym set up with circuits of machines, such training is impractical in a busy gym.

A better approach is to superset exercises. A superset is a pairing of two different exercises. Pairing agonist and antagonist muscle groups, such as a biceps curls (elbow flexion) with a triceps pressdown (elbow extension) is the most common type of superset. However, in a busy gym you may have to stick with the traditional method called station training, which is performing all the sets for one exercise before moving to another.

2. Change your workout time. The busiest time for most gyms is after 5 p.m., which is when people commonly get off work: Many people hit the gym, have dinner and then enjoy the rest of the evening. If you can avoid the gym between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., you might be able to continue with any workout program you have been using without interruption.

The gym members who tend to be the most consistent with their workouts are those who train in the morning. One reason is that unforeseen problems may pop up during the day and need to be taken care of after work, especially for parents. If you’re training at 6 a.m., a time when many people are not even awake, you’re less likely to encounter emergencies that demand your immediate attention. So if you’ve been training at 6 p.m. and switch to 6 a.m., you’ll avoid the after-work rush and be more consistent with your training.

3. Train “On the Spot.” A super efficient way to train is "on the spot" in which you stay in the same area for the duration of your workout. For example, here is an upper body workout you can perform with a set of dumbbells while standing near a bench.

Equipment needed: flat bench and dumbbells

A1. One-Arm Bentover Row: 4 x 8-10, 3011, rest 75 seconds

A2. Flat Dumbbell Press: 4 x 8-10, 4010, rest 75 seconds

B1. Seated Dumbbell Curl: 4 x 8-10, 4010, rest 75 seconds

B2. Seated DB Shoulder Press: 4 x 8-10, 4010, rest 75 seconds

New Year’s resolutions to improve your physical fitness are great, but if you find that your gym is becoming overcrowded with new and returning members, give these three suggestions a try until things get back to normal.


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