A lot of people who come into IFAST are looking to improve their fitness and health, but often do not have a lot of time to spend in a gym. This is completely understandable. We do not believe it is desirable or necessarily more beneficial to spend several hours in the gym. You can still build a healthy, attractive, and high-performing body with a few workouts a week.
So how do you do this? Well, here are two ways that we are able to save our clients a lot of time at IFAST.
First, we focus on exercises that work a lot of muscles at the same time. This is one of the many reasons we rely heavily on free weights (dumbbells and barbells) at IFAST. When you rely on machines for your strength training you are mainly just isolating one muscle, which does not provide as much total body stimulus. When you are having to hold a weight and perform an exercise you are bringing in a lot of muscles, which means more demand on the body.
For example, if you are using a leg curl machine to work your hamstrings then you are not really working much else besides your hamstrings. However, if you are targeting your hamstring with a free weights exercise such as a deadlift then you are going to bring a lot more muscle into play. A deadlift set will get your heart rate much higher than a leg curl machine and will stimulate much more muscle mass.
Also, free weights bring into play a lot of stabilizing muscles that machines do not. For example, a leg press and a squat have a very similar motion, but the less press gives you a lot of stability because you are sitting on a machine. This means only the big leg muscles get worked. However, in a squat you not only have to lift the weight up with your legs, but you also have to balance and stabilize yourself at the same time. This brings in many smaller muscle groups. These smaller muscle groups are important not only for extra muscle stimulus, but also for everyday function.
Second, we emphasize high intensity intervals at the end of the workout, or on off days, for our “cardio”. These intervals usually require the use of a lot of muscle and are very high intensity. Because the intervals require a lot of effort and stimulate a lot of muscle you do not have to perform them as long to see benefits. In fact, research has shown that shorts bursts of high intensity activity require much less time than slower forms of cardio to reap similar benefits.
Here are some examples of intervals we use at the end of a workout:
KB Swings – 10 swings on the minute x 8-10 rounds (This will only take 8-10 minutes and works the glutes, hamstrings, shoulders, lats, pretty much everything:) )
Airdyne (our stationary bike) or Battling Ropes – 30sec max effort/ 90 sec rest x 4-5 rounds (Again, these will only takes 8-10 min. and you can safely go as hard as you want without suffering wear and tear on the joints. Feel free to mix up the intervals – 20sec/60sec, 30sec/60sec, etc.)
Sled Drags – 100ft., 30-60sec rest x 3-5 trips (You may not have access to a sled, but if you do, I would highly recommend using it. They are easy on the joints and work a ton of muscle. We usually perform these based on distance.)
So I hope this gives you an idea of how to get in a great workout with minimal time. Focus on movements that require the use of a lot of muscle mass and consider replacing your longer, slower cardio with shorter, more high intensity intervals.
Have a great week!