Pain Free Working

8 Workout Time-Wasters (and What to Do Instead!)

We all know how valuable our time is, and when it comes to sweating it out, we want every minute to count. 

If you’re going to squeeze in a quick break workout or hit the gym after a long day at the office, being efficient with your time can make a world of difference in achieving your fitness goals.

But as you dive into your routine, you start to notice that time seems to slip away faster than you’d like. You find yourself caught in a web of time-wasting activities that sap your productivity and lose the fitness result that you’re targeting.

In the following sections, we’ll uncover these workout time-wasters and provide you with some awesome alternatives and strategies to reclaim your exercise time and turbocharge your fitness journey.

Time Wasters During Workouts and Their Alternatives

Let’s tackle some of the most common time-wasters that can sabotage your workouts:

Mindless Socializing

Workout Time-Wasters - Mindless Socializing

We get it—connecting with fellow gym-goers can be a great way to build camaraderie and stay motivated. But, when those quick catch-ups turn into lengthy conversations, it’s time to refocus. 

Instead of sacrificing precious workout minutes, try these alternative ways to engage in social interaction while keeping your eye on the fitness prize:

Set Specific Times for Socializing

Dedicate a few minutes before or after your workout to chat and catch up with your workout buddies. That way, you can have the best of both worlds—social connections and an efficient workout.

Buddy Workouts

Why not turn socializing into an active and productive session? Partner up with a colleague or friend for a workout, where you can motivate each other, push your limits, and still enjoy some quality time together.

Distractions from Phone

Workout Time-Wasters - Distraction from Phone

One modern-day nemesis is distractions from technology a.k.a. our smartphones. We live in a world where our phones are practically glued to our hands, and streaming services tempt us with captivating shows. But when it comes to workouts, excessive phone usage or getting lost in a TV series can really hinder our progress. 

So, let’s break free from those digital chains and make the most of our sweat sessions:

Set Boundaries

Designate specific “no phone” zones or periods during your workout. Silence notifications, keep your phone in airplane mode, or even leave it in your locker. Trust us, the world won’t crumble if you disconnect for a short while.

Curate a Killer Playlist

Prepare a motivational workout playlist that gets you amped up and keeps you focused. Music can be a fantastic distraction-free source of energy and motivation.

Use Fitness Apps Wisely

Embrace the power of technology for good! Use fitness apps that guide you through workouts, track your progress, and provide helpful tips. Just make sure you’re using them as a tool to enhance your workout, not as a gateway to distraction.

Excessive Resting

Workout Time-Wasters - Excessive Resting

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point—taking longer-than-necessary rest breaks. But did you know that excessive resting can zap the intensity and momentum of your workout? 

Here are some tips to help you optimize those rest periods and keep your fitness train chugging along:

Time Your Rest Periods

Set a specific time limit for each rest interval. Whether it’s 30 seconds, a minute, or longer depending on your workout intensity, having a defined time frame keeps you accountable and prevents those accidental Netflix binges between sets.

Active Rest Periods

Who says rest has to be all about sitting on a bench? Incorporate active recovery into your breaks. Instead of plopping down, try light stretching, walking around, or even some quick bodyweight exercises to keep your heart rate up and maintain the flow of your workout.

Waiting for Equipment

Workout Time-Wasters - Waiting for equipment

Ah, the frustration of waiting in line for popular gym equipment. We feel your pain—standing there, waiting, while the clock ticks away, and your motivation starts to dwindle. 

It’s time to tackle this challenge head-on and come out victorious. Here are a few ideas:

Supersets and Circuits 

Mix and match exercises that don’t require the specific equipment you’re waiting for. Keep your heart rate up and muscles engaged by creating supersets or circuits with available machines or free weights.

Try New Equipment

Be adventurous and venture out of your comfort zone. Explore different machines or equipment that are often overlooked. Who knows, you might discover a new favorite that becomes a staple in your routine.

Time-based Workouts

Instead of focusing on equipment-dependent workouts, design your routine around time intervals. Engage in bodyweight exercises, cardio bursts, or even plyometric movements that require minimal equipment.

Inefficient Warm-ups

Workout Time-Wasters - Inefficient warm-up

When you jump straight into a vigorous workout without properly priming your body, not only are you increasing the risk of injury, but you’re also missing out on an opportunity to maximize your performance. And equally terrible is when you choose warm-ups that don’t necessarily do the purpose.

Here’s a quick and effective warm-up routine that you can seamlessly incorporate into your workouts:

Dynamic Stretches

Start with some dynamic stretches to warm up your muscles and increase your range of motion. Think arm circles, leg swings, or walking lunges. These movements will wake up your body and get those joints lubricated.

Cardio Bursts

Get that heart pumping and the blood flowing with some light cardio exercises. Jumping jacks, high knees, or a few minutes on the stationary bike will do the trick. This helps elevate your heart rate and primes your body for upcoming challenges.

Activation Exercises

Target specific muscle groups with activation exercises. These exercises focus on engaging and activating the muscles you’ll be using during your workout. For example, if you’re hitting leg day, incorporate some bodyweight squats or glute bridges to fire up those lower-body muscles.

Lack of Structured Plan

Workout Time-Wasters - Lack of STRUCTURED PLAN

We’ve all been guilty of aimlessly wandering from one exercise to another, unsure of what we’re really trying to accomplish. Here’s the deal: Aimless workouts are like road trips without a GPS. Sure, you may enjoy the ride, but you’ll likely end up missing out on the opportunity to target specific muscle groups, track progress, and make efficient use of your time. 

It’s time to reclaim that direction and purpose with a structured plan!

Define Your Goals

Identify what you want to achieve with your workouts. Whether it’s building strength, improving cardiovascular fitness, or toning specific areas, having a clear goal will help shape your plan.

Choose Exercises Strategically

Select exercises that align with your goals and target the specific muscle groups you want to work on. Compound exercises, which engage multiple muscle groups, are efficient time-savers. Think squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and rows!

Schedule Your Workouts

Set specific days and times for your workouts. Treat them as important schedules that you can’t miss. This helps create a routine and ensures that you prioritize your fitness goals.

Track Your Progress

Keep a workout log or use a fitness app to track your exercises, sets, and reps. This allows you to monitor your progress, challenge yourself, and see how far you’ve come. It’s like having your very own fitness journal!

Ineffective Exercise Selection

Workout Time-Wasters - Ineffective Exercise

We’ve all seen those exercises that make us scratch our heads and wonder, “Is this really worth my time?” Well, here’s the deal: Some exercises may not deliver the results you’re looking for or may simply be inefficient in terms of time and effort. 

It’s time to leave those behind and focus on exercises that give you the most bang for your sweat-soaked buck!


Pair up two exercises that target different muscle groups. Perform one set of the first exercise, then immediately move on to the second exercise without resting. Not only does this save time, but it also adds an extra challenge and boosts your calorie burn.

Circuit Training

This is like a power-packed workout marathon! Design a circuit that includes a series of exercises targeting different muscle groups. Perform each exercise one after the other, with minimal rest between exercises. Repeat the circuit for a set number of rounds. Circuit training keeps your body guessing, maximizes calorie burn, and keeps your workout exciting.

High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of high-intensity exercises and brief recovery periods. This combination keeps your heart rate elevated, torches calories, and boosts your metabolism long after your workout is done. It’s like a turbo boost for your fitness journey!

Overemphasis on Minor Details

Workout Time-Wasters - Minor Details

We get it—there’s a certain allure to targeting and isolating specific muscles. But overemphasizing minor details can lead to inefficient workouts and a skewed sense of priorities. While it’s important to work on individual muscle groups, it’s also important to focus on overall strength, fitness, and functional movements that benefit your everyday life.

Let’s focus on the bigger picture:

Incorporate a Variety of Exercise

It’s time to embrace a more balanced approach. Instead of fixating solely on specific muscles, let’s focus on building overall strength, improving cardiovascular fitness, and enhancing our functional abilities. This means incorporating a variety of exercises that challenge different muscle groups and improve our overall fitness levels.

Final Note

Now, it’s time for action! Apply the alternatives and strategies we’ve shared to transform your workouts from time-wasting sessions to efficient and effective sweat fests. Embrace the power of focused conversations, optimized rest periods, technology-free zones, alternative exercises, structured plans, compound movements, and more.

Every moment you spend working out is an investment in your health, well-being, and personal growth. By making your workouts more efficient, you’re maximizing your time, energy, and potential. You’ve got this!

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.