Efficient use of your exercise time

Timed exercise, performing push-ups in the park

Mastering an Efficient Workout

Experience has shown me how to condense exercises, so that each session is as efficient and effective as possible.

The pitfall of many workout programmes is that they feature unnecessary, time-wasting exercises, which fail to produce results. I try to avoid this trap by ‘exercising economy’ when creating fitness training programmmes. This term is coined from Gray Cook, an American physiotherapist whose work I respect. Cook’s message is to programme the most efficient workout possible, given the time and ability-level of the client. To do this, I evaluate any proposed exercise using three criteria:

  1. Does it contribute to good posture, core stability or efficient movement?
  2. Does it promote overall strength?
  3. Does it burn a significant amount of calories?

Exercises I see performed in mainstream gyms, usually fail to meet these criteria. It’s not that the exercises are inherently wrong or useless, just that they should not be relied upon for startling results.


I’m not against crunches, but I use them increasingly less with my clients these days. Lying on the ground isn’t going to burn any fat around the stomach, which is the key to seeing toned abs.

Tricep dips

This exercise is much beloved by guys trying to bulk up their arms, but it’s possibly the hardest way to tone the underarm area. I prefer using press-up variations which work a wider range of muscles at the same time.

‘Cardio’ sessions on Stepper machines

If you are short on exercise time, then the poor range of movement at the hip and knee on these machines, leaves them a poor second-best to simply climbing stairs. Plus, it’s pure ‘gym science’ that they’re the best thing for toning glutes.

Rather than wasting time in your workout session, learn to exercise economically to keep generating results.

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