There is nothing worse than walking out of the gym thinking: “Well, I could have done better.” Sure, we all have good and bad workout days, but isn’t there a way to increase workout efficiency? Even with less time? There is, and every workout can give you the satisfying feeling of accomplishment with a couple of tweaks.
Certainly, when it comes to building muscle, strength, and losing weight, there are no “shortcuts” for hard work. But still there is an option for you to train smarter by incorporating some helpful workout tips.
1. Smart Warm-Ups
In order to achieve a successful workout session it is crucial that we warm-up properly. Dynamic warm-ups have shown to increase joint and muscle mobility, providing better exercise performance and workout quality. So rather than doing boring static stretches, try a dynamic warm-up that will get you going. Also, feel free to use light weights with dynamic warm-ups, this will activate and prepare the muscles for what’s to come (1).
2. Focus on Compound Movements
When it comes to lifting weights, arguably the best way to accomplish more in less time is to impact more than one joint at a time. By focusing on compound lifts you are hitting multiple muscle groups with just one exercises. Therefore it is always better to choose compound multi-joint over single isolation movements (2).
Here are the six basic compound lifts you should focus on:
1. Bench Press: Switch between barbells and dumbbells.
2. Squats: The most effective exercise for lower body development.
3. Pull-ups: If you’re unable to perform a pull-up, start with negatives in order to build strength.
4. Deadlift: Essential back day exercise. Make sure to have a proper technique in order to prevent injuries.
5. Rows: Both dumbbell and barbell rows are great for back and arm activation.
6. Overhead press: One of the best shoulder exercises that also strongly impacts the triceps.
3. Combination Exercises
Another great addition to any workout routine are combo exercises. If you’re really low on time, but still want to get an effective workout in, then combo exercises are the solution.
Combination exercises simply join two movements into one. They involve multiple joints and work multiple muscle groups at the same time. By performing multiple movements at once you are not only going to spend more calories, but you are also going to save a lot of time (3).
Examples of proper exercise combining:
1. Reverse Lunge + Overhead Press
2. Goblet Squat + Reverse Lunge
3. Deadlift + Rows
4. Overhead Press + Rows
5. Skull Crushers + Close Grip Bench
Of course, feel free to find your optimal exercise combining routine, combining exercises that hit the same or opposite muscle groups.
4. Strength and Cardio
People often think of strength training and cardio exercises as two separate activities, but in reality they really don’t have to be. Adding cardio intervals (such as jumping jacks, 20-second sprints, rope jumping) into your workout routine will spike your metabolism while still building strength and muscle. And as far as the “cardio burns muscle” myth goes, it is completely false, since studies prove that aerobic exercises do not compromise muscle hypertrophy in any term. So fell free to add some exciting cardio in between, or at the end of your workouts (4).
5. Increase Intensity
To get more out of your workouts, you also need to increase intensity. Stepping away from the same old, and giving a little bit more out of yourself will definitely bring results. Try to shorten your rest periods between sets, by doing so you are going to keep your heart rate elevated, supercharging your intensity and cardiovascular health. Performing more reps than usual is also an amazing way to increase intensity (5).
6. Add More Weight
Adding more weight to the bar with time will ensure that you are following the most important principal of lifting, which is progressive overload. Every week try to do a little bit more than before. Even with a minor difference, results will greatly be impacted (6).
In the end, the really best way to get more from you workouts is to simply do more. Incorporate these tips and always try to go the extra mile!