A relatively short blog today, but I wanted to give you something that could be applied straight away.

The following are 3 simple things you can do to increase the effectiveness of your workout.

  1. Warm Up Properly. Notice the ‘properly’ at the end. Warming up does not include running on a treadmill or in fact using any kind of electrical device. Instead start with 3-4 minutes of foam rolling to ‘unglue’ any sticky muscle fibres, follow that with 6-7minutes of mobility exercises. These should ideally move from floor based movements such as bird dogs, quadruped tucks and mountain climbers to standing exercises. The exercises should be performed with no rest and at a brisk pace. The movements should progress from controlled to more dynamic. Notice I’ve not mentioned temperature or heart rate. This is because you can get your heart rate and temperature up without actually preparing the body for exercise or enhancing physical activity. Follow the guidelines above and you’ll be fine.
  2. Start with the ‘Big Rocks’, (for an explanation click here). Start all of your workouts with the exercise most relevant to your goals. That means if you want bigger legs, put squats or deadlifts first. If your main focus is on improving your posture, leave the squats and deadlifts for later and start your workout with Face Pulls and Banded External Rotations or something similar. If your focus is muscle gain, save energy system work until the end of the workout, or better still another day. If you’re looking to get leaner, do your energy system training early on.
  3. Swap ‘cardio’ for Energy System Training. It has all the benefits (actually it has a tonne more too), with none of the drawbacks. Energy Systems Training involves performing compound exercises with little rest in between exercises, whilst varying the load to vary the energy demands. This differs from Metabolic Training, which also involves performing compound movements with very little rest in between exercises, but specifically in an effort to maximize calorie burn and increase metabolic rate during and after the workout. In EST you may perform one exercise for 1-3 reps, followed by another exercise for 6-8 reps, followed by another for 12-15 reps followed by 30-60 seconds of low intensity work/active recovery. One of my favourite EST circuits is as follows:

  [table]

Barbell Deadlift 1-3 reps 20X0 (up as fast as possible with good technique, down under control)
Power Clean  & Press 6-8 reps
Supine Rows 12-15 reps
Skipping 60 seconds

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Circuit Notes:

  1. Keep 1 good rep in the tank for all exercises.
  2. Choose weights that will allow you to get all the reps in each exercise on the first set with one rep in reserve on each. I.e. Choose a weight you can deadlift for 4 reps but only do 3.
  3. If you can’t complete the minimum number of reps with one good rep in the tank, reduce the weight/difficulty
  4. Rest 30-60 seconds after the skipping dependant on your recovery/fitness levels
  5. Move as quickly as you can from one exercise to the next
  6. Short pauses between reps on the first 2 exercises are ok as long as they are no longer than 5 seconds

The key thing with all of the above adjustments is that they help you get more from your workouts.

The warm up increases blood flow to the muscles, primes the central nervous system and establishes active range of motion, as well as preventing injury.

Putting the most important/relevant exercises first means you’re nailing the things that will make the most difference while you’re still full of energy and whilst your movement patterns are at their best.

Changing from conventional cardio to energy systems training will give you better fitness results, improved hormonal function, better body composition and is significantly more interesting than running on a treadmill for 30 minutes.

So don’t wait. Start making some changes today, you’ll see and feel the difference in just a few weeks.