5 Ways To Make Your Training Time More Effective

“I’m just busy,” she said to me. “And frustrated that I can’t stick with my training days because they take forever.”

I was talking to a client of mine that wanted to see results in her strength and endurance — that carried over onto her skates — but couldn’t get consistent with the training programs I’d give her up to that point.

“What would work for you?” I asked.

“30 minutes MAX.” She challenged.


Most athletes need cross-training programs that are both efficient AND effective. A workout plan that has you seeing improvements in your performance consistently. But also allows you to give your all at practice. And show up in your life.

“Sorry, I can’t. I have derby. (Or derby-related training.)” gets old after awhile.

If you’re struggling to make your workout more effective and efficient or you’ve hit a plateau that you’re ready to climb off, give these tweaks to your routine a try:

1) Shorter, but More Intense.

There is definitely value to a long, slow slog through the weight room. Gritting out a few heavy reps to empty the tank and watch your numbers go up.

But when you’ve gone the slow and heavy route for awhile, it might be time to mix it up. Spend less time in the gym and ramp up the intensity. HARD.

We all know the high-intensity interval training is touted as the holy grail of roller derby training (studies have actually shown that one minute of all-out exercise can have the same benefits of 45-minutes of moderate exercise). It’s more effective for decreasing bodyweight and abdominal fat while still retaining muscle mass — when compared to training at a steady rate — and it preps your heart for the pace of a roller derby game.

Intervals don’t just mean cardio machines either. You can create interval circuits using weighted exercises that can help you boost your strength, up your cardio, AND bust you out of your rut at the same time.\

2) Heavy Movements First.

If pushing those heavy reps is your thing, great. You do you.

But to maximize your training session it will benefit you the most to pick ONE heavy focus movement and crank it out first. Your muscles will be fresh, your form will be solid, and you’ll be able to move more weight right after a warm-up then deeper into strength workout.

Train 3-5 sets of 5-8 reps on a big compound movement — squat, deadlift, press — then move to higher reps and lighter weight of some accessory lifts.

It mixes up the slow grind of heavy lifts and helps you improve in overall strength then move onto other areas of focus. Like…

3) Single Leg Movements Later.

I’ve never been quiet about my undying devotion to single limb movements. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C.) Do them. But try moving them to the end of your workout and dropping the weight.

You’ll need to turn your brain on in order to keep your core engaged and your stability on point. It also helps you build muscular endurance in each limb individually and mimics (in a safer environment) some of the leg fatigue you might experience come game day.

This is only effective if you commit to proper form even when you’re tired and the larger muscles in your upper and lower bodies are gassed. If your brain isn’t up for the task, skip it until your next training day.

4) Use Supersets, Full Body Exercise, and Circuits.

These are all the tools of someone trying to get, get out, and get on their way when it comes to training. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting your training to be effective AND efficient.

Supersets allow you to go between 2 muscles groups quickly meaning there isn’t as much time spent resting (*cough* sitting on your phone or taking selfies *ahem*) and you can work multiple muscles in the same amount of time. There are a lot of variations on the theme of supersets, but the most efficient is to pair opposite muscle groups or body parts and work them back-to-back. Like going from a bench press to a row or a squat to a pull-up.

Full Body Exercises are just what they sound like. While the compound movements require your full body to get involved a full body exercise incorporates multiple movements together. Kind of like a burpee which has a press motion and a squat motion in the same exercise. A few examples that can apply to your roller derby training: clean and press, walking lunges with overhead press, or renegade rows.

Circuits are similar to supersets but instead of pairing two exercises together, you’re pairing together an entire string of exercises. The goal is to get through the whole series (usually as quickly as possible) before taking a rest. Then you repeat the circuit several times. This style of training is great for building cardio and muscular endurance. They also tend to go by pretty quickly.

5) Warm-up (and Cooldown) Properly.

The way you warm-up and cooldown really does make a difference.

It helps your body either prepare for your training day, reset after it’s over, and recover faster so that you can do it all again. Warm-ups and cooldowns are the perfect places to focus on rehab work, improving your range of motion, and taking mental time for yourself.

If nothing else, pick up a foam roller. Rolling has been shown to reduce muscle soreness, increase range of motion, and even improve performance in things like the vertical leap. Research shows that even 2 minutes of foam rolling can improve your range of motion by up to ten degrees. (That’s huge.)

And as always…

Your training plan really only needs to do two things:

  • get you closer to your goal
  • keep you healthy

If what you’re doing is working, stick with it. If you choose to mix it up, make sure that it’s meeting those two criteria. There are a million different ways to train for what you want, find one that works and go from there.

Want more?

Reset your training this year by building a habit of consistent training and giving your lungs and legs a boost to start the year.

The 30/30/30 Challenge is for you if you’ve been struggling to train, but know that you need to. If you want a quick, “easy” program that will get you back into the habit of training and start you off on the right skate for your season.

  • 3 workouts per week to build your strength and cardio using basic moves and minimal equipment.
  • Coaching videos for EVERY exercise so you can get your form locked in.
  • Weekly emails to keep you motivated and give you tips for making each training day effective.
  • Quick. Super quick. 30 minutes or less each day.

This is the program you need to get you ready for the season, break you out of your rut, and kick your legs (and lungs) into gear. One month to regain your consistency.

Will you accept the challenge?



About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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