10 Ways To Boost Your Workout

Don't waste time and effort in the gym: get the most from exercising with our personal trainer's targeted tips

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It’s safe to say many of us spend our time in the gym pottering around with little or no structure. Sure, you can maintain your general fitness or run off those extra pints you had over the weekend, but are you really getting anywhere? To maximise your efforts in the gym, and fast track yourself to body changing results, here are my top tips to help you get leaner and stronger, faster.

1 | Set smart goals

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If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s very easy to waste your time. If your goals hit all of the criteria in this acronym then you’re on track:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Realistic
T - Time bound

2 | Record everything you do

You should always keep a diary of what you have completed in the gym in order to track your progress and to help set your next realistic target. This could be weights, sets, reps, distances or times. A good way to measure your progression is to aim for around a 10 per cent improvement every two weeks.

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3 | Do compound lifts

Compound movements involve large muscle groups. Athletes across many sports use Olympic lifts to help improve strength and sports performance. These types of moves are also great for getting rid of body fat.

The snatch

Great technique and explosive strength are needed as you lift the barbell from the floor to locked arms in one smooth, continuous movement.

Dumb-bell squat into bicep curl into shoulder press

1 | With the weights in each hand, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and perform a squat.
2 | Bicep curl the weights to chest height, brace your abs then perform a standing shoulder press. Exhale.
3 | Pause at the top and then slowly return the weights
to the starting position. Repeat the required number of reps.

Dumb-Bell burpees into shoulder press

1 | Take the weights in each hand, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and perform a burpee.
2 | From standing, perform a shoulder press. Return the weights to the start position.
3 | With abs braced throughout, repeat required number of reps.

4 | Pay attention to your diet

“The amount of protein we need depends not only on how much exercise we do,” says nutritionist Laurent Bannock, “but is also influenced by genetics and other factors such as body type (gender and build). Conveniently, protein requirement for men per meal will be roughly equivalent to the size of two of your palms per main meal (one palm for women). This needs to be balanced with three or four vegetable portions, which can also be conveniently determined using your hand; in this case by the size of your fist. Using this guide, quantities would work out as one to two ‘palms’ of protein-dense food plus three to four ‘fists’ of vegetables per main meal.”

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5 | Do fasted cardio

This is cardio done on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. Adding 1–2 sessions of 30–40 mins per week will really help to keep your body fat down, and it’s a great way to boost your energy levels and kick-start your day into action.

6 | Sleep

All muscle growth and repair happens during sleep. Six hours is the absolute minimum, eight hours is optimum.

7 | Rest

Sometimes, when it comes to exercise, less really is more. If you work a particular muscle group to exhaustion it can require up to seven days to reach full recovery. Doing your chest or arms every time you go to the gym will not make them grow quicker, in fact it can often have the reverse affect. That’s why you should give each body part a minimum of 3–4 days’ rest between big workouts.

8 | Don’t do Sit-ups

Sit-ups don’t give you a six-pack, low body fat does. Instead, do 20–30 minutes of high intensity interval training twice a week in addition to normal training; and keep your saturated fat intake to a minimum.

9 | Split workouts

To gain lean muscle, don’t do weights and cardio in the same workout. Cardiovascular exercise increases levels of stress hormones in the body, which inhibits muscle growth.

10 | Use Symmetry

Don’t only work pecs, biceps and abs. For balance and good posture, counteract every pushing move with a pulling movement. Let me know how you get on, or ask me other questions @harryjamesonPT

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