As a personal trainer, one of the main reasons people seek my advice is because they feel like they don't have enough time to work out. With the kids back at school, snow on the ground and a 40-plus hour work week; spending hours at the gym isn't possible, but is it even necessary?
Depending of your goals probably not. In fact, for fat loss and conditioning, shorter more intense workouts may be more effective. There are plenty of different advanced methods to help bust out of plateaus and add variety to keep things fresh. One of the most effective methods I have found to work great for fat loss and saving time is to do more work in less time. Traditional weight training involves usually one-to-three sets resting anywhere between an average of 10-30 seconds for fat loss and up to three minutes for pure strength. Once the last set is completed, the trainee then moves to the next exercise. Two methods that can save you time and still make great progress are by using supersets and compounds sets.
A superset is two different exercises performed back to back, with little or no rest in between for opposing muscle groups. Examples could include bicep curls followed by triceps extensions, bench presses followed by barbell rows, or leg extensions followed by hamstring curls. This saves on time and allows you to pick up the intensity. One can expect to finish the same amount of sets in your standard workout in half the time. And by working opposing muscle groups, you allow your muscles enough recovery time to start each lift fresh and keep the blood flowing for a cardio effect too.
The lead researchers at University of Ballarat in Ballarat, Australia, concluded that, "The general population may be more willing to adhere to less time-consuming resistance training programs that offer similar results, as compared to more time-consuming programs" in a recent published study.
Another method to increase intensity while decreasing workout time is called compound sets. Compound sets are very similar to supersets, except you work the same muscle group. Again, little to no rest in between sets. The goal is to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible with good form. Like supersets, compound sets are a tremendous time saver. Start with the multiple joint exercises that allow more weight to be used first, and then move to an isolation exercise. Examples would include bench press followed by chest flyes, pull-ups followed by pull downs, squats followed by leg presses. Compound sets give you the advantage of working your muscles from a variety of angles, a key factor in gaining muscle mass. Try adding these methods to mix things up and get in great shape.
- Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS is a personal fitness coach at Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. He graduated with a bachelor of science in exercise physiology / minor in nutrition and earned the most prestigious certification in the industry, the NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist. For more information visit www.KCstrength.com.