Making The Most of Your Gym TIme

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For the past month, I trained heavily in the gym. I bouldered one day and went to yoga the next. My time in the gym was limited. At the end of my three week stint in the Bay Area, I went to thirteen yoga classes, bouldered fourteen days and ran nearly seventy miles. Over the weeks I learned a bit more about making the most of my gym time.

Lindsay Tjain, gym training, Berkeley Ironworks

Have A Plan

Walking into the gym, picking up a couple of dumbells and putting them back down helps with getting stronger but having a plan makes the exercise faster and easier. This past training cycle, I wanted to hangboard to make my fingers stronger. I researched the best way to train and chose to follow a program from Steve Maisch, a SLC climber and trainer. I hung on the board with three different grips for ten seconds on and three minutes off. I kept track of the additional weight with the plan of consistently adding weight. I also wanted to take as many yoga classes as I could. I checked the schedule and read about each of the classes. I decided which were best and scheduled for them. Having a plan made the monotony of working out easier.

Joey Kinder, gym training, rock climbing

Get Motivated

Working out can be a chore. I wanted to have gone to the 7:45 yoga class but I didn’t want to wake up early to go there. Some days, I found motivation by having a partner to go with. Other mornings, I got out of bed just to make a simple hash mark on my training sheet. Some days, I would reward myself with a fresh fruit or a simple pleasure for going to the gym. Finding a partner, having a goal, or rewarding yourself can be simple ways to get into the gym.

Joey Kinder, Gym training, sport climbing

Know Gym Traffic

The gym tends to be busiest on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The traffic gradually increases from nine in the morning until early afternoon. By four or five, the gym starts to double in traffic and peaks shortly after. Working out becomes exponentially easier when less people are in the gym. Leading routes, climbing a long sequence of boulder problems in a row, or using your favorite cardio machine become more likely during calmer gym hours. The busy evening hours are a great time to socialize and to learn beta on difficult boulder problems.

LIndsay Tjain, Berkeley Ironworks, training

Record Your Workouts

Keeping track of your workouts helps significantly. Knowing which weights to grab, which boulder problems you try and your downward dog progress increases efficiency. Over time, a steady record will show where you need to improve and what you do well at. Recording workouts can also act as inspiration. Seeing the gains can help inspire your next session in the gym.

What Want From the Gym

For many people, the climbing gym acts as a social outlet, an opportunity to talk to other climbers, yogis or weight lifters. For others, the gym acts as a catharsis, a chance to let out of the grind of work and get lots of physical exercise. Decide what you want from the gym. Having a priority, whether to socialize and recreate or to train, helps making the most of your time.

Alex Honnold, gym training, Berkeley Ironworks,


Eating lightly before a gym session will help keep you fueled during your gym session. Beware of eating too much as it can cause you to sink into the couch and keep you from going to the gym. A little caffeine can help with getting into the gym at times. Caffeine is also known to help with endurance related exercise.

My time in the gym made me feel significantly stronger. I left the gym fitter than I arrived despite having a busy schedule around my gym time. Executing these tips helped a ton.

By James Lucas