So you’ve made it to the gym and you’ve got your workout – now how can you really maximise it to ensure you get the most out of it? Here are six easy little tips to help:
#1 Work the big muscle groups
If your time is limited in the gym then make sure you focus on the moves that are going to use the biggest muscle groups so you burn the most calories and strengthen your whole body. There’s little point bashing out a load of bicep curls if you can only get to the gym once a week. Instead focus on compound, multi-joint exercises, that target the bigger muscles (legs, back and chest) – so moves like squats, deadlifts, lat pull-downs, chest press etc. These work more than one muscle group at a time and also work and strengthen the core so you’re hitting all your bases.
Working the same muscles or opposite muscles twice in a row with limited rest in between is a great way of increasing the intensity of your workout. You can either focus on the same muscle or antagonistic (opposing) muscles e.g. Quads and hamstrings, Back and chest etc This is probably the most effective option – and keeps the workout interesting too. It also means you can work the whole body in one session if you are time limited.
#3 Reduce rest time
Yes resting between sets of exercise is important but you don’t need to spend minutes wandering around the gym resting all the time. Cut your rest periods down to around 60 – 90 secs max and increase your intensity further. This will also mean you can get the workout completed in a shorter time which is great if you’re struggling to fit everything in.
#4 Don’t run baby run
Yes cardio is important, but spending hours running/cycling/rowing at a moderate intensity isn’t really doing that much for you, other than making you hungry and eating up time. In fact too much steady state cardio can actually cause muscle loss and hamper weight loss. So unless you’re a runner or training for an event, ditch the 45 min moderate run and instead do some high intensity interval training – bursts of alternating work and rest. You need to really push yourself in the intervals so adjust them to suit your level – you may find aiming for 20 – 30 secs of high intensity and a similar rest period is a good starting point. This will increase your fat burning and keep your metabolism roaring.
#5 Up the jumps
If you’re able to then include some plyometric moves in your workout – things like jump jacks, burpees, jump squats, box jumps etc are all awesome moves to do. Not only do they activate the fast twitch muscle fibres but they also boost your metabolism and fat burning, and they use some of the smaller muscle groups which you may not get time to work on (especially the burpees). It’s worth taking a moment to ask a trainer in the gym to demo technique or you can check out youtube for technique for these (or drop us a line and we’ll help) – things like ensuring your heels are down in the jacks, core braced for all of them, hips lifted (don’t let the back sag) in the burpees are all really important ways to ensure you perform these moves safely.
#6 Give yourself a boost
If you are struggling to get the energy to get yourself going then there is nothing wrong with an occasional coffee to boost your workout potential. Caffeine has been shown to not only lower the perceived effort (meaning you can work harder without feeling it) but it also contributes to increased fat burning. It increases performance and endurance so is a great way to help you through those days when you’re just not feeling it.
Let us know how you get on and if you get stuck and need any help then do ask – we’re always happy to help.
This article is written by Dr Nancy Priston. Please remember, she isn’t a medical Dr, the information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this site.