The idea that shorter, more intense workouts can produce the same results as longer sessions of more “consistent” cardio activity has been spreading for a while now. But, surprisingly, most New York City fitness buffs are still signing up for hours upon hours of steady sweating.
Fit Crush NYC founder Joe Ardito wants to change that. “Free time is one of the most precious resources we have, and you should spend it doing the things you want to do,” he says, with one eye on my squat form and speed. “You don’t have to spend all of it in the gym to get the results you want.”
Ardito has 25 years of experience as a personal trainer, and Fit Crush NYC (which has a team of trainers you can book for sessions at small gyms around Manhattan) is the manifestation of what he sees as the most effective approach to fitness—doing more work in less time, with a highly skilled trainer guiding you.
“Working with a trainer one-on-one is always going to be more efficient than taking a group class because your trainer can focus on what your body needs to help you reach your individual goals faster,” he says.
Of course, that’s not an option for everyone, so Ardito shared three of his tricks of the trade, which you can use in your own workouts to maximize efficiency—which, in turn, means more time for…whatever the heck you want.
interval training workouts
1. Focus on your form. No, really. If you’ve got shoddy form, it’s going to take much longer to get any benefit from the workout, since bad form tends to overtax the muscle groups that are already the strongest, Ardito explains. “Proper form ensures that you’re using the correct muscles in any given exercise, which means that you’re fatiguing the right muscles in the right fashion.” So don’t do more reps just to get them in. Take your time and do them right, even if that means doing less.
2. Choose functional movements, and do them in intervals. “Perform multi-jointed exercises with cardio in between to get the most effective workout in the least amount of time,” Ardito likes to say. Translation: deadlifts are better than bicep curls, because do you feel how you’re working your arms, entire back, and butt all at the same time in order to do it? And you’ve likely heard about the research on intense interval training. It kicks your workout into overdrive, so while you may feel more immediate pain and exhaustion, it’ll be over much faster.
3. Stop skipping your stretch time. We get that running out of your spin class before stretching is all about making it to work on time (and being first to the showers and blow-dryers), but if you’re doing an intense interval workout, you’ll have more time to spare to begin with, and stretching will help you create a flexible body that’s able to maintain good form and work efficiently. “Proper stretching prevents injury, restores a full range of motion, increases sense of well-being, shortens recovery time, and improves blood flow and circulation,” he says. Can you really argue with all that? —Lisa Elaine Held