How to Get the Most Out of 30 Minutes at the Gym

iStock/Alina Solovyova-Vincent

As a working "professional" who spends way too much time writing articles, drinking coffee, and listlessly staring off into the unknown, I find it difficult to carve out some gym time to make those gains I've heard so much about. In total, I have about 30 minutes each morning to work out, and generally have 0 to 0.5% of an idea of what to do to properly maximize my time.

Do I run? Do I lift weights? Do I lock myself in the shower and breathe in that precious steam? Who the hell knows? Because I'm not as omnipotent as I thought, I enlisted the help of personal trainer/fitness expert Kira Stokes, as well as some trainers from Equinox to give me -- and the rest of America -- advice on how to work out at the gym under a tight time constraint.


Get rid of downtime by using a jump rope

"There’s no time for rest when you’re working out for 30 minutes,” says Stokes, who suggests grabbing a jump rope to use before, during, and after your workout.

Jumping rope for three minutes before you start working out will increase your heart rate, gets you sweating, and puts the fear of God in your heart -- pending you have some kind of weird deep-seated fear of jump ropes. Then, between biking and weight lifting, you can bust that jump rope out to cut out any downtime.


Create a killer playlist before you get on the treadmill

Before you even get to the gym, Kira suggests putting together a loud, hard, and fast playlist for working out, so you don’t have to waste any precious minutes rifling through your iPhone at the gym. I personally enjoy working out to either Black Flag or the sound of single men sobbing into their pillows.


Work out your entire body at once

A high-intensity workout implementing compound movements sounds complicated, but it means “multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time.” These are totally easy exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, and step-ups, which can be done in five-minute increments.


Take advantage of your gym’s dumbbells

One of the easiest exercises you can use is a basic shoulder press. Simply grab dumbbells, perform a squat shoulder press, do 30 seconds of squat jumps, then engage in a core-strengthening exercise like a forearm plank.

Bike like your life depends on it

Our contact at Equinox (whose motto is “IT'S NOT FITNESS. IT'S LIFE.” in all caps, by the way) says that 15 minutes of interval cardio before full-body training or weight lifting is important.

A recent HuffPo article says biking before lifting depletes your body's supply of glycogen, which then allows long-term storage sources, like fat, to be burned off during weight training. Obviously, this all depends on your goals at the gym, but -- for all intents and purposes -- if you’re a dude like me who just wants to get in, get out, and get lean, this is the way to go.

Wikimedia/Agricultural Research Service,

Cram a delicious protein shake down your talk-hole

After a tough (albeit short) workout, a protein-heavy smoothie is the easiest and fastest way to repair muscle. Stokes suggests a basic protein smoothie with carbs to refuel yourself. Grab a vegetable-based protein like Ojio, throw in strawberries, raspberries, almond milk, and water. That’s all you need, now go kick someone's ass until it falls off!

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Jeremy Glass is a staff writer for Thrillist and also has a friend named Jim. Naw, he doesn't.