How to Have a Quick and Efficient Workout

Want to sign up for gym time, but not sure how to make it work for you? Here’s how.

Whether you need a break from the barrage of inspirational mantras your cycling instructor calls out or just want to design your own workout playlist,a change in your normal class routine is a good thing. Adding some gym time to your schedule is one great way to mix up your workouts, but stepping back into a large, crowded gym can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re accustomed to a smaller, personalized class experience.

How to have a quick workout

Where should you start? What is proper gym etiquette? How can you get a full-body workout, shower and change all during your lunch hour? Don’t sweat it (or do)! Here are a few ways to maximize your time at the gym from the moment you walk in the door.

Come with a plan

Walking into an open gym space without a goal in mind for your workout is like walking into the supermarket without a shopping list. For the latter, chances are, you’ll spend far too much time walking up and down the aisles browsing food you don’t really want rather than efficiently shopping for the items you need.

Before heading to the gym, write up a short workout plan for yourself. You can even borrow moves and exercises you’ve learned to love from some of your favorite classes. Once you’ve created your plan, don’t stray from it!


Maybe not to a level as intense as SpongeBob here, but in gym-speak, superset your exercises. What is a superset? The back-to-back performance of two separate exercises without resting in between. The key to performing a successful and safe superset is choosing two exercises that work opposing muscle groups; think push and pull. For example, if you were planning an upper-body workout, you could superset a row exercise with a press exercise. Try this quick upper-body superset during your next gym session:

1- Dumbbell bench press/Lat pull-down
2- Standing dumbbell shoulder press/Seated cable row
3- Push-up/Pull-up

Wear headphones

You might have all the right intentions at the gym, but there will always be other gym goers who forget that gym-time is not happy hour. Politely put up your do not disturb sign, and stay focused on your workout by popping in your earbuds and jamming out to your favorite tunes. Check out the ClassPass Spotify page for some killer workout playlists.

Do your cardio between sets

Maximize your time and keep your heart rate elevated by doing your cardio in the middle of your workout. Drop those dumbbells, and hustle over to the nearest treadmill and bang out five to seven minutes of speed work. Or if you prefer plyometrics, hit the floor for some burpees and squat jumps. Try one of these quick cardio sessions between your supersets:

Treadmill HIIT
1- Warm up by jogging at a comfortable pace for 90 seconds at 1.0 incline
2- Sprint for 45 seconds at 1.0 incline
3- Recover by jogging at a comfortable pace for 90 seconds at 1.0 incline
4- Sprint for 30 second at 7.0 incline
5-Recover by jogging at a comfortable pace for 60 seconds at 1.0 incline
6- Maximum effort sprint for 30 seconds at 1.0 incline
7- Cool down by walking for 60 seconds at 1.0 incline 
Total time 6 minutes 45 seconds

Burpee Waterfall Ladder:
1- 10 burpees followed by 10 mountain climbers
2- 9 burpees followed by 9 squat jumps
3- 8 burpees followed by 8 mountain climbers
4- 7 burpees followed by 7 squat jumps
5-  6 burpees followed by 6 mountain climbers
6- 5 burpees followed by 5 squat jumps
7- 4 burpees followed by 4 mountain climbers
8- 3 burpees followed by 3 squat jumps
9- 2 burpees followed by 2 mountain climbers
10- 1 burpee followed by 1 mountain climber
11- Rest!

Bring a water bottle

This one might sound silly, but those walks back and forth between the water fountain and your workout station tack on unnecessary seconds. Worse, you might return to your bench or machine and find that another gym-goer has taken up residence! Bring your own bottle of water and take a quick sip between sets while resting at your station.

Skip the shower

Unless you find yourself drenched in sweat head to toe, chances are you can get away with skipping the shower line and just changing your clothes and heading back to the office. Just make sure to practice proper hygiene and use a post-workout wipe such as these from Mio.

The benefits of quick and efficient workouts

I’ve been a loyal attendee at Uplift Studios, a New York fitness studio for women, for the last two years. Earlier this year, they announced that they were shortening classes from their usual 55 minutes to 45 minutes. Their reasoning? It’s more efficient. As someone who’s been trained to think quantity trumps quality (TBT to the annual fitness tests in gym class), I found this new style of fitness to be contradictory and just straight-up confusing… until I looked at the facts.

Looking at the facts

When you go to longer classes, it’s inevitable that there will be a lull every now and again so that you can catch your breath. When you’re short on time, those moments are few and far between. Studies show that short bursts of activity (think a 1-mile sprint or an entire song of burpees) can actually be more effective than a longer workout.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) classes are the most popular example. In this type of class (Uplifts Power class is my personal favorite!), you burn more calories and fat in a shorter amount of time because you’re moving constantly. But the calories continue to burn even after you leave class because your body is in hyper-drive and coming down from hitting maximum capabilities. Other benefits include increased endurance, increased metabolism, and faster results.

Accommodating busy schedules

As we live busier (and fuller) lives, it’s important for studios to align with our lifestyles. If shaving off 10, maybe 15 minutes of class, means you’ll view working out as something you can squeeze into your schedule, that’s not so bad. Plus, when you have less time, you’ll likely be more motivated to push yourself because it’s way easier to get through a minute of weighted squats when you know class is almost over.

And if we’re being honest, any exercise — whether it’s a 10-minute yoga sequence at home or a full-on Tabata class — is better than nothing.

These ClassPass studios are known for short (but seriously effective) classes:

The best fitness studios, classes, and experiences are on ClassPass. Work out where you want, when you want, and how you want, all with one membership. Join our community on Facebook and Instagram!
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