Using Workout Time Well: A Personal Trainer’s Tips


One of the many benefits of nutrition school is the wonderful friends that come with it and the wonderful knowledge, backgrounds, and passions that they have to share.  Katie Occhipinti has been a personal trainer since she was 18, once competed in a figure body-building competition, comes from a family of personal trainers, and has an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science. I’m always chatting with her about workouts and her training (and trying to squeeze out some new ideas), so I figured I’d ask her to write a guest post and share some tips and pointers from her vast pile of fitness knowledge & experience. If you like what you’re reading here, check out Katie’s blog at


Time, or lack there of, is one of the biggest obstacles we face when trying to stick to our exercise regiment. Whether it is getting in a run before work or pumping some iron in between classes, making the most of our gym time is crucial. Try incorporating some of the tips below to get the biggest bang for your buck. You will see that kicking your own ass at the gym does not take long.

1.  Circuit train. Circuit training is a popular style of lifting weights. It consists of going through a series of exercises (usually 3 different exercises) and upon completing the last exercise in the series, beginning back again at the first exercise. Circuits are usually done 3, 4 or even 5 times through. If you are FIRST starting out, it is perfectly fine to go through your exercises one or two times through and then increase the number of rounds as the weeks go on. The benefit? Constantly moving from one exercise to another will help you maximize calorie burn and will allow you to strengthen many different body parts in one workout. 

2. Skip the bicep curls and calf-raises. Think big muscle groups such as legs, back and chest. Hitting these muscle groups with traditional exercises like squats, pushups and row machine, will also work the smaller muscle groups like your biceps, triceps and calf muscles without having to isolate them with their own little exercise. Another method is to use multi-joint exercises. Examples of this include doing a squat WITH an overhead press at the top or doing lunges WITH a bicep curl after each lunge. The benefit? Larger muscle groups burn larger amounts of calories. If time only allows you to pick a few exercises before hitting the showers, big movements are more effective and efficient at hitting every muscle group in the body.

3. Limit your rest between each exercise. Taking a shorter rest can increase the cardio component of your workout and overall intensity. The benefit? This is good place to save time and to increase calorie expenditure by keeping your heart rate elevated.

4. Throw in a cardio style exercise into your set. Add in some kind of cardio movement (jump rope, mountain climbers, burpees, jumping jacks, 1 min sprint, 30 second bike… whatever) right in the middle of your weight training circuit. This will keep your heart rate up the entire workout. The benefit? Rather than trying to squeeze in some weight lifting after hitting a cardio machine, kill two birds with one stone by skip the “cardio” machine all together. Your heart will get a good enough workout with this interval style circuit.

5. Plan your workout ahead of time. This is probably one of the most important ways to save time. Eliminates the thinking factor while you are in the gym. The benefit? Once you already have your workout written down, all you’ll need to do is blast through it.

Make your best workouts the ones you thought you didn’t have time for. 

Go hard XO,
Katie O-ACSM certified personal Trainer- Boston Sports Club, South Station
Founder and blogger of


4 Comments to “Using Workout Time Well: A Personal Trainer’s Tips”

  1. Timely post! I shared a quick summary & link back on my blog for Monday. Hope that’s okay!

  2. Hey Sarah nice post! I have been doing personal training for three years now and the thing I like to utilize most is circuit training. I usually do resistance training exercises in the circuit. I think this kills two birds with one stone. Not only does a get my clients stronger but it is also a great cardio workout because we go from one exercise to the next without stopping. There sweating hard by the end, it’s great! keep up the good writing.

  3. Great point re: limiting time between sets. This is the single biggest problem I see from clients that claim working out on their own isn’t working. It;s a dead giveaway when they take a magazine to the gym for between sets. I always advise no distractions, feel the effort you are putting in and reduce breaks between sets to improve overall fitness.

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