“Smarter, not harder” is basically our unofficial motto—especially when it comes to working out. Or, to paraphrase an idea set forth by Kevin from The Office, why waste time doing lot in gym when little does trick? So we tapped two trainers to share their best tips for working out smarter, not harder.
“If you are at the gym for 30 minutes, you won’t maximize your time if you are constantly checking your phone,” says Kourt’s trainer Amanda Lee. “Leave your phone in your bag and stay focused to make the most of your workouts.”
2. Perform compound exercises
“Any exercise that involves multiple joints is a compound exercise, and these exercises are going to be the foundation for your workouts,” says trainer Sydney Cummings, B.S., NASM CPT, founder of Royal Change. “If your goals are strength-based, stick with squats, deadlifts, rows, planks, and presses. If your goal is intensity and a high caloric burn in your workout, lower your weights by about 25% from your max resistance and perform two of those exercises together, i.e., a dumbbell front squat and shoulder press or a Romanian deadlift and bent row.”
3. Control the tempo of your movements
“For anyone with limited dumbbells or weights, focus on a controlled tempo for your exercises. Lowering slowly in a squat or adding a pause halfway down in a shoulder press will up the intensity without requiring a full set of dumbbells at home or at the gym,” Sydney says.
4. Mentally focus on your muscles
“If you focus on the muscle you are working, you will help engage it and therefore see better results,” Amanda says.
“Even if you only have 20 mins to do a quick home calorie burn circuit, it still counts and will keep you on track in the long run,” Amanda says.
6. Take shorter rest periods between exercises
“Group exercises into supersets or circuits helps you keep your heart rate up and helps you achieve more time under tension simultaneously,” Sydney says.
“If you’re working on strength gains and you are able to work out three or more days a week, set aside one day for full-body, one day for lower-body, and one day for upper-body workouts,” Sydney says. “This will allow you enough time in between workouts to help your muscles recover so that each workout can be maximized in what you will get out of it! Isolating muscles on consecutive workout days will result in your inability to work them effectively on the second day and could ultimately lead to injury from improper recovery.”
“Sometimes you don’t need a harder routine, just a different one. Switch up your exercises regularly to keep your muscles on their toes, which prevents plateauing,” Amanda says.
9. Have a smart pre-workout snack
“Nuts, greek yogurt, or a banana are all great pre-workout snacks to help boost your energy and get the most out of your workout,” Amanda says.
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