Written by Patrick Smith
It’s that time of the year again! Everyone and their brother is vowing to make a significant change in their lives, and once again (like every year) the number one resolution is to get fit. Maybe your goal is to stick to your first-ever exercise program, or maybe you’re a seasoned gym veteran looking to take your workouts to the next level. Whatever the case, here are a few guidelines that will help deliver real, noticeable results in 2016. That is, if you can make it past January.
1) Lift Heavier Weights
You know those people who grab the same pair of dumbbells every time they step into the gym? Yea, their bodies look exactly the same as they did last year. Changes in body composition occur through progressive overload, a.k.a. adding a little bit more weight or reps each session. When your body is introduced to the same stress (i.e. weight) every workout, it’s not forced to adapt. Bring a small notebook with you to the gym so you can record how much weight you lifted for each exercise and how many reps you completed. Then when it’s time for that same exercise the following week, try to increase either the weight or number of reps. Your body will thank you later in the form of firm, toned muscles.
2) Compound Exercises
Dump the tricep kickbacks, dumbbell shoulder raises, and any other isolation exercise that requires pink dumbbells. Compound, multi-joint moves like the squat, deadlift, chin-up, and bench press work multiple muscles at once, leading to a higher caloric burn and greater release of fat-burning and muscle-building hormones. As an added bonus, strength training sessions consisting of compound lifts have been proven to boost your metabolism for hours after the workout is over. Win-win-win.
3) Full-Body Workouts
The classic bodybuilder split – chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday, arms on Wedesday, etc. – is a thing of the past. You should be working every muscle group every time you pick up the weights. The fat-burning and muscle-building hormonal response from full-body workouts is unparalleled, plus every muscle doing work torches a heck of a lot more calories than only one muscle doing work (sorry but “bicep day” doesn’t burn many calories). Full-body workouts also allow you to train each muscle group three times per week instead of just once. A good rule of thumb to ensure you hit every muscle: push something, pull something, work your legs, work your core.
Lifted Fitness Sample Workout
* Perform 10-15 reps for each of the following exercises in a circuit format. Catch your breath before moving on to the next exercise. When you can complete 15 reps for all 3 sets at a given weight, increase the weight the following week and go for 10 or more reps. Finish your workout with intervals on the treadmill.
Standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, rest the dumbbell on your palms and hold it close to your chest. Push your butt back and squat down, driving your knees out wider than your elbow position. Once your thighs are parallel (or just below parallel) to the floor, drive back up through your heels to the starting position.
1 Arm DB Bench Press – Hold one dumbbell with your palm forward and arm extended over your chest as you lie flat on a bench. Keeping your core tight, slowly lower the weight to the side of your chest. When you reach full depth, press the weight back up to the starting position. Complete all your reps then repeat with the other arm.
Inverted Row – Set up a barbell on the hooks of a squat rack at about chest height. Grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width and hang below it at arm’s length. Keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe, pull your chest to the bar, then slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
Kettlebell Swing – Standing tall, hold a kettlebell with a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your core tight, push your hips back then explosively thrust your hips forward and swing the weight up to chest level. When the kettlebell reaches chest level, “relax” for a split second, then pull the bell back down right into the next rep.
Up/Down Planks – Start in a high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your hands. Lower your left elbow to the floor while keeping your right elbow straight, then lower your right elbow to the floor. Once in the low plank position, extend your left arm first, then extend your right. That’s one rep. Complete all your reps then switch sides.
Patrick Smith is the co-owner of Lifted Fitness at 803 Summer Street in South Boston. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and holds his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Elon University. Email any fitness questions to [email protected]
For more information about Lifted Fitness visit: http://www.liftedboston.com