Need to shape up for the New Year? Worrying you might not have the time to work out? Worry not.
The following routine is guaranteed to get you into shape with just three 30-minute workouts a week.
Understand that it's the quality, not the quantity, of training that produces a terrific physique. If you train hard and train smart, you don't have to train long.
Thus, this routine will focus on training quality, keeping training time to a minimum. It's an efficient, effective routine guaranteed to deliver results. All you have to do is put in the effort.
As opposed to a traditional "split routine," this program employs a total body approach to training.
For results in this type of routine, multi-joint movements should be used whenever possible. A multi-joint movement is an exercise that involves more than one joint in the performance of the move.
Examples include squats, bench presses and deadlifts. Due to their multi-joint nature, these movements not only work your target muscles, but also incorporate the use of stabilizer muscles, which assist your primary muscle movers in the performance of a lift.
Moreover, they are very metabolically taxing, meaning that you burn lots of calories during performance. This means you'll be losing stubborn body fat while toning up your muscles!
Since each muscle group is trained several times per week, it is imperative to keep the total volume of exercise down to a minimum.
Performing an abundance of different movements can quickly lead to overtraining, which is a sure way to diminish results. Consequently, only one exercise should be employed for each muscle group per session.
You'll note that the biceps and triceps aren't trained at all. Here's why: By utilizing multi-joint movements, your arms receive a substantial amount of ancillary work during back, chest and shoulder training. Thus, in the context of this routine, performing specific exercises for the arms is unnecessary and even counterproductive.
You should vary training intensity from week to week, alternating between a "heavy" workout one week and then a "light" workout the next.
Heavy weeks should target 1-10 reps per set, while reps during light workouts should target 11-20 per set.
Regardless of rep range, make sure that the weight you are using represents a challenge to your muscle. If the weight is not sufficiently challenging, your muscles have no impetus to develop and get stronger.
Perform two to three sets per exercise, resting for one to three minutes between sets. Rest longer for the lower rep sets and keep rest shorter for higher rep sets.
Although everyone has varying recuperative abilities, a period of 48 to 72 hours is usually required for adequate recovery. This constitutes the approximate amount of time necessary for muscles to synthesize protein for repair and rebuilding.
Accordingly, it is best to train on three, non-consecutive days per week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday make for a good routine. Use your off-days for light aerobic activities.
The following exercises are ideal for use in this routine. Perform them in the order listed, starting with the upper body movements and then proceeding to the ones for your lower body.
NOTE: You can view animated demonstrations of these exercises on the Fitness Resources section of my website, LookGreatNaked.com.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Begin by sitting at the edge of a flat bench. Grasp two dumbbells and bring the weights to shoulder level with your palms facing away from your body.
Slowly press the dumbbells directly upward and in, allowing them to touch together directly over your head.
Contract your deltoids and then slowly return the dumbbells along the same arc back to the start position.
One Arm Dumbbell Row
Begin by placing your left hand and left knee on a flat bench, keeping your right foot planted firmly on the floor. Your torso should be parallel with the ground throughout the entire movement. Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand and, with your palm facing your side, let it hang down to the ground.
Keeping your elbow close to your body, pull the dumbbell upward and back until it touches your hip. Feel a contraction in the muscles of your upper back and then reverse direction, lowering the dumbbell along the same path back to the starting position.
After you have finished the desired number of repetitions, invert the process and perform an equal number of reps with your left arm.
Flat Dumbbell Press
Begin by lying face-up on a flat bench with your feet planted firmly on the floor. Grasp two dumbbells and, with your palms facing away from your body, bring them to shoulder level so that they rest just above your armpits. Simultaneously press both dumbbells directly over your chest, moving them in toward each other on the ascent.
At the finish of the movement, the sides of the dumbbells should gently touch together. Feel a contraction in your chest muscles at the top of the movement and then slowly reverse direction, returning to the starting position.
Begin by grasping two dumbbells and allow your arms to hang down by your sides, palms facing your hips. Assuming a shoulder-width stance, slowly lower your body until your thighs are approximately parallel to the ground.
Your lower back should be slightly arched and your heels should stay in contact with the floor at all times. When you reach a "seated" position, reverse direction by straightening your legs and return to the start position.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grasp two dumbbells and let them hang in front of your body.
Keeping your knees straight, slowly bend forward at the hips and lower the dumbbells down until they touch your toes.
Slowly rise upward until you reach the starting position.
Begin by lying on the floor with your legs bent at a 90-degree angle. Ball your hands into fists and place them at your ears (not behind your head!).
Slowly bring your right knee up toward your left elbow and try to touch them to one another. As you return your right leg and left elbow to the start position, bring your left leg toward your right elbow in the same manner.
Continue this movement, alternating between right and left sides as if pedaling a bike.
Brad Schoenfeld is one of America’s leading fitness experts. He’s the best-selling author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect, 28-Day Body Shapeover and his newest book, Women's Home Workout Bible. Schoenfeld is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as a personal trainer by both the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. He’s also been named “master trainer” by the International Association of Fitness Professionals. Check out his website at www.lookgreatnaked.com