This Is a Trainer’s Best-Kept Secret for Working Out Smarter—Not Harder—at the Gym

Photo: Getty Images/Ridofranz
Sorry, "more is more" fitness—you're just not in fashion anymore. Express sweat sessions are now an even hotter trend than bike shorts. And here to accommodate the demand is "strategic laziness," a lightning fast exercise modality that makes the most of bite-sized workouts.

While The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferris originally coined the fabulous term "strategic laziness," Nike master trainer Joe Holder has since written it into the vocabulary of the fitness world. In a profile with plant-based meal service Sakara Life, Holder defined the term. "Athletes do what they should, not what it seems like they should be doing," he says. "Inaction is a form of action and athletes know which actions should be done and which shouldn’t, which saves time and energy and unnecessary wear and tear on the body." Lazy can be smart—and vice versa. Word.

Maillard Howell, owner of Dean CrossFit and founder of The Beta Way, says the foundation of training with a "strategic laziness" mindset is intention. "It’s taking the time to be thoughtful," he explains. "We tend to only think that there’s thoughtfulness in actions, but you need the mental space, the physical space, and the emotional space to also be creative—not just productive [in your workouts]." You can apply the motto to any area of life. But at the gym, it really just means walking through the door with a well-engineered game-plan.

The foundation of training with a "strategic laziness" mindset is intention.

Let's say you have half an hour to dedicate to your body. That means all 30 minutes should be intentional work. It's not 15 minutes of working out paired with 15 minutes of procrastination (guilty—so guilty). You could do a non-stop, level 10 HIIT workout. It could also be half cardio, half high-intensity low-impact interval training. Or, one-quarter yoga and three-quarters strength training. What matters is that what you do and don't do things that are specific to your needs on a given day. So if you need to rest... you rest! It's laziness fueled by purpose.

"We live in this society where we think the more busy we are, the more productive we are," says Howell. As we all know though, it's not true IRL. And it's certainly not true when it comes to getting your sweat on, according to trainers. So next time you're thinking about lacing up your shoes and passing several hours at the gym, do your inner-Lazy Lucy a solid—and just don't.

Now, to squeeze in that (intentional!) stretch. This one and this one will both make your back feel A+. 

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