Today I’m taking a break from bashing fad and bad diets to talk about some basics of exercise programming. Almost any gym you go to will be rife with fancy and expensive exercise equipment. If using machines is your only mode of strength training, then you are extremely limited to your exercise selection. And heaven forbid someone is on your favorite hamstring curl machine on leg day! So here are a few tips to keep your workouts integrative and dynamic while being short and sweet.
Whats The Point?!?!
If you read these emails frequently, you know that I am a huge fan of weight lifting. As for cardio… not so much. This is because cardio is not as effective for achieving health goals like strength gains, muscle mass gains, weight loss, or even heart health as compared to a quality weight lifting program. So what’s the point of a weak sauce machine based exercise program (I’m talking to you treadmill only walkers)?!
Keeping It SUPER Simple
To be clear, cardio isn’t bad. It’s just not a great use of time. So to break the boring and ineffective cycle, try using super sets! A super set is when one set of an exercise is performed directly after a set of a different exercise without rest between them. Think pull ups then push ups. This style of weight lifting is a great tool to use for almost everyone. Even if you’re restricted to machine based programs due to health issues, super sets have a lot to offer including;
– Saving time
– Maximal muscle activation
– Increased metabolic stress
Exercises are easy to super set and can be placed strategically within a workout to maximize your goals. Here are a few exercises to try out if you’re new to the concept.
Barbell Curls – 2 x 10-12
Dips – BW x Max reps
Front Squat – 3 x6-8
Cable Pull-Throughs – 3 x 12-15
Keep It Real
If you’re still afraid to get off the bicep curl machine because you don’t know what else to do, I would recommend keeping it real. By this I mean do real world activities as exercise. One such exercise is the weighted carry. This exercise involves you picking up heavy weights and walking with them (think carrying the groceries in from the car). This exercise requires you to stand with good posture and to walk mindfully. And when done right, it is a wonderful full body exercise. I’m also a fan of the front squatbecause I don’t usually carry heavy things around on my back (think crock pot, load of wood for the fire place, or even children). Finally, consider using the kettle bell swing to enhance your ability to do powerful movements (picking something up from the ground and placing it up high). This exercise is also wonderful for driving up the heart rate as well as the metabolism.
Remember, no one strategy will get you to your goals. It takes a variety of methods and exercises to optimizes health and fitness. So be sure incorporate these strategies into your fitness tool box, but don’t rely on them solely. And always remember that safety comes first! So make sure your form and exercise progression/selection is right for you.