How to optimise your training so it can fit into your time-tight schedule

A lot of what I do as a chiropractor is to encourage clients to meet WHO physical activity guidelines. This means engaging in strengthening exercises for at least twice a week!

If you are finding it hard to carve out time for weight training, the following strategies may help you optimise your training so you can spend less time at the gym.

Choose compound movements over isolated exercises.

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Functional exercises such as kettlebell swings works the whole body in a single exercise.

It is true that weight training can be time consuming. It comes down to the number of exercises you are doing as well as the type of exercises.

If you time is tight for you, keep exercises to compound movements.

What does this mean?

Compound exercises refer to exercises that involve multiple regions and joints of your body at the same time. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, refer to movements that are focused on a single muscle group at a time.

For example, you may want to choose squats instead of doing seated leg curls.

A squat will work your gluteus muscles, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps muscles, low back, and even your abdominus muscles. On the other hand, seated leg curls largely only focuses on your hamstring.

By choosing the right exercises, you can kill many birds with one stone and cut down on the time spent in the gym!

Bilateral over unilateral movements.

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To save time, opt for a two-arm dumbbell shoulder press rather than the single arm variation.

There are certainly benefits to doing unilateral exercises. Unilateral exercises are movements where you only work one side of the body at a time. For example, a side bridge.

Unilateral exercises take more time because you would have to do the same exercise twice — once for each side.

To save time, choose exercises that allow you to do both sides of the body at the same time (e.g., good mornings).

Use supersets, drop sets, and rest-pause training.

Supersets is a training approach where you would complete multiple exercises one after another with little to no break.

Instead of doing only a set of 12 squats before resting, you may want to do a set of 12 squats + 12 lunges + 12 burpees before resting. Because you are doing more repetition and resting less, you get to save time and also hit a higher rating of perceived exertion per workout!

Drop sets is slightly more complicated because it will involve some tweaking of traditional training. In drop sets, you will perform a set of exercises until failure (i.e., can’t do another repetition). Then drop the weight by 20-30% before going another set until failure. Then drop the weight again by 20-30% before going for another set until failure.

There is usually little to no rest in between. I guarantee you will experience a nice, awesome burn with this training format.

Rest-pause training is probably the least popular approach to weight training for everyday people.

In rest-pause training, the priority is to complete the total repetitions of an exercise with little regard to how many sets it will take. For example, if you are looking to complete 25 squats, you may do 12 repetitions for the first set before you hit fatigue. Then another 9 repetitions before you hit fatigue. Because you are really tired now, you may only do 2 repetitions for the next set. Then a 1-repetition set. Finally, 1 last repetition for the last set.

Rest time between sets is relatively short between 10-15 seconds.

Skip warm ups.

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Resistance band exercises, while boring for some, can be a quick way to get your muscles ready for your main lifts.

No, don’t skip warm up completely.

You can, however, only choose those that are related to the workout of the day.

If you are working on chest day, maybe do some burpees to get the heart rate up and also some push ups to get the pectoral muscles ready for your bench press.

If you are doing a leg day, opt for jumping jacks to get the heart rate up. Then jump squats to get the muscles and joints ready for the squat movement.

Time is precious, but so is your body.

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Healthy moving habits is what we need to keep us in a state of health. While not everybody may love to exercise, it is absolutely important that we make an attempt to try.

You should aim to do at least two days of weight training per week. This is congruent with what World Health Organisation recommends.

Finding time for weight training does take a certain level of discipline and commitment. This often means taking time away from work or home. It doesn’t seem ideal but the alternatively of being unfit and unhealthy is probably worse.

Being in poor health can directly decrease your work productivity or the quality time you have with your loved ones. This is definitely not the life you want to live.

We do hear you. Exercise does take time. However, we promise that it will be worth it!




Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.