Getting The Most From Your Workout

Exercise is a big part of my life.

I like going to the gym. I like to sweat.

I like to move heavy stuff.

I make time for and schedule my workouts as if they were client appointments.

It’s that important to me.

That said, I don’t love the gym so much that I want to waste my time there. I have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. I still have a husband, a kid, a job, and a house. My workouts are an essential part of my life and I love them, but I don’t have time to spend two, three, or four hours in the gym.

The average woman is struggling just to find the motivation and time for 15 minutes of exercise, let alone an hour. If you have limited time and motivation is an issue wouldn’t it make the most sense to do exercises that will give the most “bang” for your exercise buck? Don’t you want to get stronger and leaner – faster?

Stronger, leaner….faster? Hopefully you’re screaming “YES!” right now.

First thing's first: you have to start making time for yourself, at least twice a week. No matter your schedule, it CAN be done. If you’re not making time twice a week to exercise, you’re just making excuses.

A client and good friend of mine has four children of her own and often babysits a fifth...yet she routinely makes time to work out. If she can do it, so can you!

A client and good friend of mine has four children of her own and often babysits a fifth...yet she routinely makes time to work out. If she can do it, so can you!

Good. Now that you’re exercising twice a week, you want to get the most from your workouts by doing the right type of workout and choosing the right exercises…and avoiding exercises that are a simply a waste of your time.

Let’s start with the easy part: what type of exercise? Weight training. Full body. At least two times per week.

Are you surprised? If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’m a fan of weight training for so many reasons! Moving heavy stuff builds calorie-burning muscle tissue, strengthens bones and joints, and shapes your body in an aesthetically pleasing way. Those women on the cover of the fitness mags – they didn’t get that way by doing cardio.

Okay, weight training. Got that. But what exact exercises will help you be most efficient and effective in the gym?

Multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, step ups, lunges, leg presses, push ups, pull ups, and rows make the most efficient use of your time.

Multi-joint exercises are exactly what they sound like: multiple joints are working to perform a desired movement. This means many muscles are involved. If you have a reasonable amount of common sense, you will deduce that any exercise that works many muscles at the same time is also going to burn more calories, shed more fat, and help you build muscle faster.

Let's use the pull up as an example. The pull up (or cable lat pull down) is an exercise that targets the largest muscle in your back, the latissimus dorsi (lats), but also involves many smaller muscles, including your biceps, triceps, rhomboids, subscapularis, and pectoralis minor.

You don’t have to worry about remembering the names of all those muscles…just remember this: pull ups work a lot of different muscles at the same time.

Compare that to a bicep curl, which works….your biceps.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see where I’m going with this.

It’s not that single-joint isolation exercises like the leg extension, leg curl, bicep curls, and tricep extensions are bad. If you are a body builder with a goal of getting larger biceps for a competition, you should definitely include isolation exercises like bicep curls in your routine.

However, if the goal is fat loss and you don’t care much about having huge biceps and you have limited time – this describes the vast majority of my female clients – it makes WAY more sense to work as many muscles as possible at the same time!

The major benefits of doing multi-joint exercises:

  • They keep you human. Multi-joint exercises force muscles to work together harmoniously, the way nature intended. How often do you find yourself doing anything that only uses your bicep muscle? Pretty much never. Even bringing a glass of wine to your lips involves multiple muscles in your arm, shoulder, and chest! Seriously…try to drink that wine using only your bicep muscle. Bet you can’t.
  • Multi-joint exercises keep your muscles properly balanced. You won't end up over-strengthening one particular muscle to the exclusion of others. Isolation exercises (like bicep curls) have the potential to create fundamental imbalances in your body, which can lead to joint and muscle dysfunction down the road.
  • Multi-joint exercises reduce your risk of injury. Over-working any one muscle group can lead to over-use injuries. When muscles work together the way they are supposed to, you are less likely to experience joint and muscle problems.
  • Faster results. Doing squats, lunges, pull ups, and push ups is HARD work. No one said this would be easy. But you’ll spend less of your precious time in the gym and you’ll get results faster. ‘Nuff said.
  • And my personal favorite reason: multi-joint exercises increase your metabolic rate both during and after exercise. This means you burn more calories overall, which means accelerated fat loss. It also means you can eat more food – and I love to eat more food.

So what might a full body, multi-joint, fat-burning workout look like? 

Try this:

  • Squats x 10
  • Rows x 10
  • Lunges x 10
  • Overhead Presses x 10
  • Push ups x 10

Complete each exercise with good form and little or no rest between exercises. Rest for one minute at the end of the circuit, and then do it again 2 or 3 more times. Depending on your fitness level, four rounds of this will take 30 minutes or less!

Don't have 30 minutes? Do one or two rounds and be done! Something is better than nothing!

Check out the video below as I take you through one circuit of these exercises using a barbell. No barbell at home? Don't worry! Find a weighted object (a couple of one-gallon jugs filled with water works great!) and JUST DO IT!

Develop a fully functional and fit body by doing multi-joint exercises that maximize your time in the gym!

Special note: My suggestions and videos are exclusively for informational purposes. You should get clearance from your doctor before beginning any exercise or fitness program. You should also strongly consider working with a knowledgeable trainer who can guide you through safe and effective workouts. 


Thank you...

For visiting my website and reading my blog! My goal is to help women be happy, healthy, and fit!

I hope this article provided you with useful information on your journey!