How long do you typically take when you go to the gym?
45 min? An hour? 2 hours? Longer????
No matter what your answer was to the above question, I'm sure we could reach consensus if I were to instead ask—
"Do you wish your time at the gym was more efficient?"
That's a pretty simple one, but it still shocks me how much time I see people wasting during their training.
10 minutes here for flopping around aimlessly on foam rollers.
5 minutes there for half-heartedly swinging arms back-and-forth calling it a warm-up.
And countless hours spent pecking away at phones, jabbering with the gym fam and taking inter-set selfies.
Doesn't it all seem so...wasteful?
That's exactly what I was thinking when I noticed just how inefficient my own training was. For as long as I can remember, going to the gym has been an arduous process. From start (sitting down for my measured-to-the-gram pre-workout meal) to finish (finally crawling back through my front door after narrowly escaping another brush with the gym reaper), it was common practice to allot up to FOUR HOURS of my afternoon for my fitness activities. At the time, my focus was 110% tunnel-visioned on getting as jacked and strong as possible so it didn't seem odd to me that I was dedicating a full 1/6 OF MY LIFE to my peri-workout window...But now that I'm able to have a more removed and objective view, all I can think of is how many more productive things I could've gotten done if only I would have moved a little quicker, fucked around a little less, and done a better job of killing multiple birds with one stone.
And it's that last point that is particularly salient for our discussion today—
How exactly do we create efficiency within our training through exercise selection?
This may seem to run counter to the presumption that we need specificity to continually drive progress, but I actually have a slightly different mindset when approaching the same conundrum—While we obviously need to choose our exercises and execution parameters with our macro goals in mind, I don't see it as problematic if we're able to take two desired qualities (let's say hypertrophy and mobility) and improve them both with less time and effort.
Would we be able to progress MORE on each quality if we attacked them separately? Possibly...But training is always going to be a series of compromises and trade-offs. We can't get better at everything at the same time. We also shouldn't only focus on one thing for weeks/months on end at the expense of all other parallel adaptations. Luckily, there is a ton of natural cross-over between qualities that allows for efficiently stacking goals while minimizing the aforementioned trade-offs.
As you can probably tell, my absolute favorite way to go about this is using a primary goal of hypertrophy and integrating mobility aspects into the programming.
This can be done in any number of ways if you're creative:
Think about utilizing a deep-ROM High Bar Squat to increase hip mobility.
Or Seated Calf Raises with heavy partials from the stretch to create more dorsiflexion in the ankle joints.
Or a Prone Around The World (as shown in the demo vid) that taxes the delts and upper back musculature while simultaneously allowing the scapulae to move freely and drive an increase in T-Spine extension.
All of these examples have similar features—They're a) programmed primarily to drive muscle growth and b) secondarily incorporating tactics to kill the mobility bird under the same time and energy constraints that would have been used anyway.
This same combinatory exercise can be done with strength+hypertrophy, power+strength, endurance+mobility, hypertrophy+work capacity, and on and on. As long as the intended qualities are close enough in programmability (i.e. improving power and endurance simultaneously might be stretching it), there exists multiple routes towards increasing your efficiency in the gym.