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Tips for Once or Twice-a-Week Gym-Goers

In an ideal world, everyone would make it to the gym 4-5 days a week and be able to get in a mixture of cardio and strength training.

Unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world, and many of us are living very busy lifestyles. Between caring for our families, seeing our friends, working, and more, it can be hard to squeeze in a single gym session each week, let alone multiple.  

Rather than beat yourself up, or give up on the gym completely, try to focus on making the most out of those one or two gym sessions each week. After all, any workout is better than none (you can even discover some 10-minute workout examples here), and as long as you're exercising when you can, you're getting the mental health and physical benefits that come with it.  

To help, we're sharing our top tips for the best workouts, fitness ideas and gym advice for once or twice-a-week gym goers. These will help you get the most out of your gym visits, and give some inspiration for other ways to stay fit and healthy too.

1. Do full-body workouts

If your goal is to build muscle and strength, you want to aim to work each muscle group out twice a week. For gym goers who are at the gym 4-5x a week, the best way to do this is focusing your workouts on specific body parts (e.g. lower body, upper body, or legs, chest, back).

If you can only make it to the gym 1-2x a week, doing full body workouts allows you to train each muscle group 1-2x a week to allow for maximum growth, and also prevent any muscles being neglected.

You'll find plenty of full-body workout ideas across our blog, but here are some of our favourites:

  • Full body bodyweight workout - no equipment? No problem, these exercises aim to target your whole body without the need for gym equipment - perhaps these could help you add another workout or two into your weekly routines?

  • Full-body exercises - this page shows a selection of single exercises that will work your whole body, allowing for quick and effective all-over strengthening and fitness

  • Quick 30-minute full-body circuit - if you're squeezing your gym session into your lunch break, or aiming for a quick workout before or after work, this 30-minute gym circuit is designed to boost strength and fitness and is ideal for all abilities

  • Full-body dumbbell only workout - whether you have a set of dumbbells at home, or like to keep things simple by just using one equipment area at the gym, this workout gives a full-body blast that challenges your upper body, lower body and core

  • Kettlebell full-body workout - another single equipment workout that will raise your heart rate, improve strength and target all areas of your body in one convenient session

2. Prioritise functional or strength training over pure cardio

Good gyms will have a range of gym equipment, with options for weight training including dumbbells, kettlebells, squat racks, cable machines, and fixed resistance machines, and cardio machines including cross-trainers, treadmills, rowers, and stair climbers.

When your gym visits are limited, it makes sense to do exercises that you wouldn't be able to at home, such as the squat rack or chest press. Swapping cardio, which can be done at home through a HIIT workout or outside by running, for weight training will help you to make the most of your gym sessions.

Weight training can help to build muscle and strength, improve mobility, decrease the risk of heart and circulatory diseases, and improve bone density. And as being able to lift heavier weights or progress to harder exercises is the best way to progress with this training, nothing beats the range of kit available at a gym!

If you like the idea of weight training but prefer cardio due to the calories burned, why not try functional training? This combines weights with movement, and will help you to burn calories, build strength, raise your heart rate and improve balance, posture and coordination across your whole body.

Discover some ideas for functional gym workouts with these guides:

Of course, if you love using your workout time to jog on a treadmill, rowing or using the elliptical, then of course, choose whatever exercise you’re most likely to enjoy the most! 

3. Plan some outdoor and at home workouts

If you're unable to get to the gym regularly, but still want to keep up your fitness levels, plan in some at home exercise sessions that can be worked around your busy day. For example, if you work from home and don't have enough time to gym on your lunch, can you fit in a 15-minute HIIT workout in your living room? Any movement is better than none, so even squeezing in a few squats while you wait for the kettle to boil is better than staying completely inactive

We have plenty of inspiration for home workouts here, or pick from one of our highlights below:

Fitting in some cardio sessions out in the fresh air is also an excellent way to stay fit and healthy. We cover the benefits of a 30 minute run here, and if you're new to running, then you'll most likely find answers to any questions you might have over on our How to Start Running guide with advice from British distance athlete Charlotte Arter. Not interested in running? Then try to increase how much you walk each week. Walking can boost your heart health, help control weight, and maintain or boost fitness levels.

4. Add work-day workouts

It's not just at the gym, home or outside that you can work towards your fitness. If you work in an office, you could be spending around 75% of your waking hours sitting down, so why not use some of this time to boost your mobility and fitness?

Taking regular breaks from sitting to stretch your legs and get some steps in, and going for a walk in your lunch, is an easy way to increase your activity. There are also stretches and strengthening movements you can incorporate into your working day. Check out our Best Desk Exercises article for inspiration and advice.

5. Get a cheap membership

Some gym memberships can really add up, especially if the gym you use has facilities like a pool or tennis courts. If you're only able to make it to the gym once or twice a week, the last thing you want to do is pay a large sum of money for facilities you don't even use! Finding a budget-friendly gym membership that gives access to great kit is the best way to ensure your getting the most value out of your visits.

Here at PureGym, monthly memberships start from £9.99 per month for off-peak hours or just £12.99 for 24/7 access. If you're a student, you could save even more. Our gyms offer high quality equipment and a clean, fun environment but without excessive costs, so it's less of a financial kick if you can't make it to the gym as regularly as you'd like. If this sounds right for you, then click here to find a PureGym near you, so you can get started today.

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