Give ya a hint: it involves lifting weights
If you have ever stepped foot in a gym you’ve seen someone doing biceps curls. Or bench pressing. A little known fact: Monday is officially Bench Press Day, and in fact, the week should go; Benchpressday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. All this to say; most people have a misconception regarding what effective weight-lifting is. Well, I’d like to tell you what the most effective and efficient use of your time in the gym is, and try to deter you from being another bench press and curl enthusiast, or, if you’re a woman, a leg press and leg curl enthusiast. Don’t get me wrong, any activity inside or outside of a gym is good, but I want to show you what is BEST.
Now, I know why you do nothing but bench press and curl, or why you do leg extensions and leg curls. You do them because you want to have a big muscular upper body or nice toned legs, respectively, and you believe that those movements are the best way to achieve those ends. The truth is that the best way to improve your upper body is by doing the big movements such as Bent-over Rows and Pull-downs for the back and biceps, and Bench Pressing (yes, bench pressing...) and Military Pressing for the shoulders, chest, and triceps, and the best way to improve the legs is also with the big movements, such as any variation of the squat or deadlift and single-leg movements like lunges. These movements allow you to handle the heaviest weight possible for those muscle groups.
The body works as one, just think about when you need to carry groceries from your car, you have to bend over to reach the groceries, which involves the legs, back and core, then you have to lift the groceries, which involves the legs, back, core, shoulders and arms, and then you have to carry the groceries into the house…you get the point. The body works as one in real-life situations, so why would you train your body in the gym with isolation exercises like leg extensions or biceps curls? These exercises only work one muscle group at a time; thus, you are training your body to NOT work as one, and you’re shooting yourself in the foot by UNDER-stimulating that muscle group.
To better explain this, let’s look at an average guy who weighs 180 and wants to have bigger biceps. Which do you think will build more impressive biceps, curling 30 pound dumbbells or pulling your bodyweight up to a bar (as in a pull-up)? In one case, your biceps are lifting 30 pounds, in the other case your biceps are lifting 180 pounds, with the help of the back of course, but it does create a much stronger stimulus for the biceps than those dumbbell curls. Curls are good for isolating the biceps, but they don’t make the body work the way it was designed to, and, in my opinion, you could build impressive arms without them.
So, what’s the best way to train the body as one? Simply put, it’s total-body training, and it’s probably a lot more fun than what you’re currently doing to stay in shape. Total-body training involves doing at least two movements per workout, but more often three or more movements, that target the upper body muscles and the lower body muscles, and the core gets a lot of work from the use of free weight movements but direct ab work can be added in as well.
A Sample Total Body workout could be: Military Press, Pull-downs, and Squats. These three movements work all the muscles of the body. The Military Press works the shoulders and triceps mostly, and the chest to some degree, the pull-downs work the back and biceps, and the squat works the legs and core. Doing these three movements in a workout is going to give you the best calorie-burn and muscle-stimulation in the shortest amount of time. You can come up with any combination, just pick a pushing movement for the upper body, a pulling movement for the upper body, and a lower body movement. You can then add on another smaller exercise like direct ab work, biceps curls or triceps work.
You can do 2-3 total-body workouts a week on NON-consecutive days, trying each workout to lift more weight or do more reps with the same weight, always keeping your form PERFECT. Stay within the 6-12 rep range and you can’t go wrong. Perform the 3-4 exercises each workout in circuit fashion, meaning you do one exercise after another, consecutively, until you have done all 3-4 exercises one time, this is one round, then repeat for however many rounds you want to do that day. The general rule of thumb is: for muscle-growth and strength, give yourself plenty of rest (about 45-60 seconds between exercises) to recover enough to lift as much as possible, and do 4-6 total rounds. For fat loss and conditioning, rest as little as possible (15 seconds between exercises) and do 8-10 total rounds.
Stick with these guidelines and you’ll have the quickest and most effective workouts ever. Good luck and feel free to e-mail any questions to us.