5 Ways To Elevate Your Workouts
If you’re going to spend time working out you might as well get the highest return on time invested. Here are 5 things you can do right now to get even better results from your gym time:
1. Unilateral: this is a fancy way of saying that you should train one limb at a time — single arm or single leg exercises force your body (especially you core) to work harder. You’re also proportionally stronger with one arm or leg than you are with two (so if you can press 100lbs with 2 hands, you’ll be able to do more than 50lbs with 1 hand). Being stronger means that single limb training will let you increase your intensity and results. Last but not least single leg training is safer — this is especially true with squatting.
In a 2 leg squat your lowerback is always the limiting factor in how much you can lift, whereas in a split squat the limit is your legs (and your heart and lungs!). This will do more for your metabolism and reduce your chances of injury.
2. Change your reps: some trainers will tell you that you lighter weights and higher reps (like 15–20) are the key to success, other folks will say that you need to go heavy with low reps (like 1–6), and then other folks will say go in the middle (6–15). So, who’s right? They all are because your body needs endurance, and strength and some stuff in the middle. (Here’s more on repetitions for different goals.)
For fat-loss and looking your best this summer, you want your body to be inefficient — to expend a lot of energy when you exercise. You do this by systematically giving your body a unique stimulus to adapt to. If you always do low rep work, then your body figures out how to do that with less and less energy. This is great for being a competitive powerlifter, but not optimal if you’re looking to torch as much body fat as possible.
3. Train like a farmer: farmer’s walks are weighted carries — picking up one or more heavy things and walking around with it. This gets every muscle in your body working in ways that nothing else can. It’s both very intense and easy to recover from (a rare combination) because the load is distributed all over your body and not concentrated anywhere, so you can workout more often and get better results.
4. Leave the box: most machines and traditional exercises are just front to back, or up and down. However, the vast majority of your muscle (metabolism) run side to side, at angles, around corners, etc. Very few go in nice, straight lines. Your body was made to move in all directions, and taking advantage of this will boost your results and ability to enjoy life.
5. Train movement, not single muscles: Gray Cook wisely said, “if you train muscles, you forget movements. But, if you train movements, you’ll never forget a muscle.” Your muscles (metabolism) do not work alone — they work together so you can squat, lunge, push, pull, walk, etc. If you try to isolate and focus on individual muscles, you will neglect many movements (and muscles) because it’s so time intensive to train that way. Work all of the movements and you will hit every muscle in your body every time, and that will boost metabolism and results like few other things can.
Josef Brandenburg is a Washington D.C.-area fitness expert with 16 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book “Results Fitness.” In 2004, he started True 180 Fitness (formerly The Body You Want) personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the time you have available. Get a complete assessment (including the Functional Movement Screen), individualized programming, 4 coaching sessions and more for $89 with our 14 Day Trial.