Do we really need to spend hours at the gym to get a proper muscle building workout? Actually no. Then why does it seem that fit people spend hours at a gym and workout very frequently? We see fit people spending a load of time at the gym because those guys who are at the gym a lot get noticed, and the others don’t. This does not mean that in order to grow strong muscles or too get fit and healthy, or to look lean like them one has to workout for hours. It is like the “black swan” thing. Just because you don’t see fit and strong people who don’t spend a lot of time working out doesn’t mean they don’t exist. To make the last sentence simple — fitness does not equate to hours spent working out. Getting a lean body does not require spending long hours working out. Why? This is because it is possible to get lean and fit working out for a short 30-40 min session just once per week. You might scratch you head and think, “but so many people I know who spend so much time at the gym don’t get strong and lean.” If spending your entire life at the gym does not bring you bountiful results, you are wasting your time. If spending so much time at the gym just makes you need to spend more time at the gym, your workout is wrong. Get a personal trainer, or, if you’ve already got one, get a second opinion.
The Best Workout Routines
Body by Science is a good book to read. The author Dough McGuff, is a stickler for research-proven material. That is why I like this book of facts. The author convinces us that we can and should workout once per week. His idea of a workout, however is very strict. It is not how much time you spend working out that counts. It matters how intense the workout is and what kind you exercise is done. The principle behind his workout strategy is :
- To work on specific muscle groups. Compound muscle movements, but neither isolated (like what some body builders do) nor scattered (like in crossfit).
- To work intensely about 90 second set, and lift to complete muscle failure (till it is no longer possible to make another lift).
- To make no rest in between sets.
- To do only one set of each exercise.
This kind of workout routines are the best because muscle fatigue forces muscles to re-build. The exercises take little time to complete and you need long resting period to fully recover. This is an anabolic workout, which is based on building and not burning. Building muscles lead to growth hormone production and rejuvenation of not only muscle, but also other tissues like skin. This is the true anti-aging workout. Any other type of low intensity, long duration or too frequent exercise will lead to burning, or catabolism. Some people think spending loads of time doing low intensity cardio, for example, is the way to lose weight, but this is really a way to age the body, get injured, and lose muscle. Let’s look at the workouts recommended in the book:
5 Effective Gym Equipment Workouts
Do these slowly. Move smoothly and not jerk or start-stop . Almost no rest period between exercise.
1. Seated Row
2. Chest Press
3. Pull Down
4. Overhead Press
5. Leg Press
5 Effective Free Weight Workouts
Do these slowly. Move smoothly and not jerk or start-stop. Almost no rest period between exercise. 1. Bent over Barbell Row 2. Standing Overhead press 3. Dead lift 4. Bench Press 5. Squat The author prefers gym Equipment over free weights. I tend to prefer free weights, but McGuff has a point. The right type of gym equipment allows for muscle engagement like no free weight can.
Muscle Failure is Necessary
For such workout to be effective, you must go to muscle failure. Take weights that are about 75% of the maximum load you can handle and push till not able to hold the rep any more — till you will have to let go of the weight even if someone puts a gun to your head and forbids you to let go. Muscle failure “signals” the body to produce more muscle to over-compensate for the load experienced. This leads to larger muscle every time.
Long Recovery is Needed
During exercise muscle will tear and bruise. In 24-36 hrs post exercise, inflammation sets in. This is why we feel our exercise only hours later. Inflammation is an important step in muscle building. When we rest, the muscle gets repaired. Lack of recovery will hamper muscle recovery. This leads to catabolism (burning) and can cause joint and muscle injury.
Benefits of these workouts
- Building muscle as a priority without burning away other tissues.
- Increase in muscle strength.
- Little time spent exercising.
- Reduced insulin sensitivity
- Glucose reduction
- Increased metabolism
- Fat loss
- Improved cardiovascular strength
- Increase bone density