The Fitness Zone
Whether you are a beginner or advanced lifter, there is nothing more satisfying than reaching your training goals, however this can be a frustrating task if you aren’t training efficiently. But don’t worry, you're not alone, and we have the amazing Nathan Yannakopoulos and Brodie Hicks, Fitness Coaches from the Australian Institute of Fitness, QLD, who have five simple workout hacks to help you get more out of your workout. So for the guys and gals who are working their butts off yet seeing little to no results, this article is for you.
1. Mobility and Activation Warm-Ups
Warm-ups are typically conducted poorly, or not at all! How often do you see people wander into the gym, walk immediately up to a squat rack, and start pumping out reps? If you’re doing this, you’re not only drastically increasing the risk of seriously injuring yourself, but are also not able to exercise to your full potential.
For those who do warm-up, you may be doing some cardio, followed by some dynamic stretches, but current research suggests that including mobility and activation work within your warm-up is the way to go!.
Mobility and activation warm-ups include a range of exercises designed to increase the range of movement (ROM) in your joints, as well as activating the muscles you are about to put under pressure. Leg and arm swings are just a couple of exercises you can add to your warm-up routine.
Supersets are THE most commonly used training technique to boost intensity. It involves completing two exercises, one after the other, within one single set. Virtually any two exercises can be paired together to create a superset.
But why supersets? When compared to other training techniques, supersets expend more energy per minute of exercise, which means less time in the gym AND getting more bang for your buck out of each exercise!
3. Compound Exercises
The argument over compound versus isolation exercises generally boils down to the goals of the individual. The strongest and most powerful athletes in the world typically focus on compound movements such as squats, deadlifts and power cleans, while bodybuilders generally spend a lot of time focusing on isolation exercises such as bicep curls and tricep extensions.
For those of you who are looking for exercises that are sure to burn more calories, and use more muscles, you need to be thinking compound. Compound exercises require movement over two or more joints, e.g. hip and knee joint in a squat, which allows you to target more muscles in less time.
In addition to all of these amazing benefits, compound exercises are also far more functional; therefore transfer well to athletic performance and typically produce less stress on your joints.
4. Rest Periods
Possibly one of the single greatest annoyances of general gym goers is witnessing someone sit on an exercise station, usually on their mobile, waiting for their five-minute rest period to be up. Surely they do not need to rest that long! Or do they?
In a technical sense, the length of rest between sets is to be determined by your goals, e.g. in order to gain muscle power or increase strength you typically require more recovery, than if your goals were to increase muscle mass or increase muscle endurance. In saying this, the reason for rest periods is to recover, so listening to your body it the key. If you are feeling fatigued, or off your A game, a longer rest may be required!
5. Active Recovery
While typical rest periods involve sitting/standing still, active recovery involves a period of light aerobic activity during the rest between sets.
Research has shown that incorporating active recovery into your workout may improve contraction of the muscle, and improved muscle efficiency. Aside from these benefits, implementing active recovery between sets means that you are able to incorporate that dreaded cardio session into your strength session, and finally, all that extra moving during your workout means more calories burned! Win-win!