Everyone knows the benefits of gaining more muscle and losing fat.
What many people don't realize, however, is that the most time-efficient way to make this happen is by lifting weights.
So most people spend a whole lot of time on cardio – and little to no time with weights.
Perhaps it is because some of you are a little confused about how to achieve your fitness goals.
And when you are confused, you usually end up doing nothing.
That's called "paralysis by analysis." Well, let me help put an end to some of the confusion you might have.
A major part of the success that I've had, and that over 600 of my one-on-one clients have achieved, is due to the simplicity of the program I'm about to share with you. When you believe in a simple system and add a couple tools, you have something you can both start and finish.
And therein lies the magic in this program: Starting it, and finishing it. It's that simple. Many people I've talked to have attempted to lift weights to get in peak physical condition. They stick with it for a few weeks but don't see much improvement and sadly give up after just a few weeks. Obviously consistency is important. You need to develop a workout plan that is time efficient (2-3 one-hour workouts per week), safe, and produces results. The key is to keep it simple and to have a plan. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
Going to the gym and just doing what everyone else is doing is most likely not going to result in what you hope to achieve. You need a plan.
Many people are wasting precious time in the gym because they aren't exercising correctly. If you just copy what someone else does, there is a good chance you might follow someone who doesn't know what they are doing either. Many people who embark on a workout plan believe that once they hit a certain weight on the scale or a specific waistline measurement, they will be able to stop working out and keep their new body. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. You will need to continue working out to maintain your new level of fitness and your new and improved body.
The good news is that once you get in shape, it's not as time consuming, and it is not as much work to maintain your new level of fitness.
The plan below is very simple. I have also included workout sheets for you to use. By using the strength-training logs you can be more efficient with your workouts. The average time required to complete this workout is about 60 minutes, from start (warm-up) to finish (cool down and stretch).
I. Repetition Speed / Tempo
GO SLOW – If you go into any gym, you will undoubtedly see a majority of exercisers lifting too heavy of a weight, too fast. A common mindset for beginners or uninformed weight lifters is that "the more weight I lift and the more times I lift it, the bigger and stronger I will become."
Nothing could be further from the truth.
What happens with this style of fast, heavy lifting is that the tension created from lifting the weight can wind up in the wrong area of your body and increase your risk of injury. For optimal results, every repetition should take about 8 seconds. We call it a 3-1-3-1 rep tempo. It is also very important to have a two second pause at the bottom of the exercise where your joint is motionless. This will prevent you from using momentum to help you with the movement. It also helps to train the white muscle fiber, which is typically not exercised much.
If you were doing a standing barbell bicep curl for example, you would take 3 seconds to lift the bar up to your chin, pause 1 second (isometrically squeezing your biceps) and then take 3 seconds to lower the bar back down to the starting position, pause 2 seconds to let the muscles totally lengthen and stretch out before starting the second repetition.
Alternatively, on some days you could "explode" up in less than one second when you lift the bar, which will further activate the white muscle fiber, especially if you have paused at the bottom. You might even notice that you are sweating when you perform the workout this way.
One major key to getting a higher quality rep is the "mind muscle connection".
Simply try to focus on the intended muscle with your mind. Act like you are trying to squeeze water out of a sponge in the targeted muscle. This is only possible if you lighten the weight and utilize the slower rep as discussed above. It takes some practice but makes a big difference in the quality and the safety of your workout.
II. Number of Repetitions Per Set
If you want to gain muscle, and lose fat, aim for lifting the amount of weight that allows you to barely finish 12 reps on your first set, and 10 reps on your second set. If you have no experience working out with weights, or if it has been a long time since you lifted, aim for 15 reps (with a lighter weight) on your first set for the first couple of weeks.
The goal is to get the last 2 or 3 reps that you never thought you could get. The last two or three reps are the only reps that will force your muscles to grow. If you get more or less than the goal then adjust the weight accordingly. If you finish fewer reps, reduce weight and vice versa. It is important to understand that nearly all of the benefit will occur AFTER you start to go to muscle failure and the muscle starts to "burn." So if you can comfortably lift more than 15 reps your weight is likely too light.
Add some weight to each progressive set if you are close to the rep goal. Keep the workouts fast paced with only 60-90 seconds between sets. Doing so will add a cardiovascular aspect to your weight-training sessions. It's like killing two birds with one stone.
III. Number of Sets
All that is needed is two or three sets per exercise. When you use the "make a light weight feel heavy by moving it slow" technique that helps you put your mind into your muscle, and less is more. I know it sounds too good to be true, but 2 or 3 sets is all that is necessary. This fewer sets per exercise strategy also allows you to get your workouts in 50-60 minutes, which psychologically leads to more intense workouts.
Increased intensity means greater results. A shorter and more intense workout will also coach your body to release more anabolic hormones, which is a good thing. A shorter workout also allows you to have the mentality that you can do this forever. It becomes a lifestyle mindset.
IV. Which Exercises and in What Order?
The exercises that are the best use of your time and yield optimal results are called compound movements. Examples would be squats, bench press, and rows. These are movements where more than one joint is working and a majority of muscle groups are getting focused on. I have attached "cheat sheet" exercise logs that I created for my Fat loss Lifestyle System. All you need to do is plug in exercises from our video library. Simply view the exercises that you want to use so you can perform them safely, effectively, and intensely. And remember that in order to gain muscle and lose fat, you need to make sure the intensity is pretty high at the end of each set.
The concept that I have developed through 28 years of training and logging over 20,000 workouts as a full time professional trainer here in Chicago has proven to produce results in the most time-efficient manner.
It didn't take me long to realize that if my program was not time efficient, no one would do it long term. And realizing that doing something long term was the only way to accomplish lasting change, I had to create a streamlined version of what bodybuilders and athletes were doing.
There is an exercise log for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. When you use and follow the exercise videos in the library along with the exercise logs, you will be taking advantage of my most effective and efficient strategies. By printing the exercise logs and filling them out before your workout you will become much more focused and time efficient with your exact plan of action. Train hard, eat well, stay positive and expect success!