Your busy schedule hardly allows for time to exercise, so when you steal away for an hour, you want to make that workout count. If a toned physique is your goal, here are essential strength-training tips for quickly achieving the sculpted muscles you desire.
Work Out More Often
Hitting a total-body bootcamp session on Saturdays is awesome, but if you really want to see your hard work pay off, include strength-training sessions three times a week. Be sure to include rest days in between workouts, since this recovery time is what builds muscles. Mix up the exercises you do at each session, the equipment you use, and the order you work your muscles, and you're bound to notice a sculpted physique faster than if you only strength train once a week.
Don't Just Sit There
While doing shoulder presses or other arm exercises, it's tempting to sit down on a bench, but you'll get more out of your workout if you stand on a BOSU ball, or if you don't have access to one, try standing on just one leg. This not only gets your lower body involved, but the instability forces your core to work, too. If you really feel the need to sit, use an exercise ball.
Vary Your Weights
Your biceps are stronger than your triceps, so why use the same five-pound dumbbell to work both muscles? You might think it's annoying or a waste of time to change weights for different exercises, but you'll actually save time because you won't have to do as many reps.
Keep a set of three different-sized dumbbells on the floor in front of you so you can easily grab the weight you need. Not sure what size dumbbell to use? You'll know it's the right amount when your muscles fatigue after 10 to 12 reps. As your muscles become stronger, increase the weight to respond to each muscle's ability.
Go Full Body
Why work just one area of your body at a time when you can do dynamic moves that target your whole body? Here are some to try at your next session:
- Easy Knee-Tuck Crunches : Target abs and upper body
- Plié With a Calf Raise : Targets thighs, glutes, calves, and core
- Side Plank Crunch : Targets arms, core, and outer thighs
- Side Bend Squats : Target arms and glutes
- Atlas Body Chop : Targets thighs, glutes, abs, and upper back
Vary Your Speed
You want to get through your workout as fast as possible, but don't rush through your reps! To ensure you're not using momentum, slow down your movements to effectively target your muscles. Instead of always lifting and lowering the dumbbell at the same speed, play around with varying your speed during each stage of the move. Lift quickly (with control), then lower slowly, then lift slowly, and lower quickly. Or try pausing in the middle of lifting or lowering. Your muscles won't know what hit them.