Your busy, I get it. Maybe you can only get to the gym a couple of times a week. DON’T WORRY, THIS IS FINE 💯
Two, maybe three visits at the gym per week is plenty to activate muscular, strength and fitness improvements. The best way? Full body workouts.
Now, anybody who has done any research of the ‘golden era’ bodybuilding will know that, back in the day, Arnie and has big’ass pals didn’t train with body part splits (e.g. Chest and Triceps). Instead they trained their whole bodies in one workout, sometimes over a few hours in the gym! ⏱😅
Chill…we don’t need to spend a few hours in the gym. 👍🏼
I have selected only 5 exercises that we can all do in 1 hour that’ll activate muscular and strength gains. 1 exercise per major muscle group, and when completed a couple of times a week, combined with short home-workouts, will be plenty to ensure we keep moving towards our goals.
Now, this is a full body workout so be sure to warmup your whole body!
I like to start with 5 minutes of light cardio on the treadmill or cross trainer followed my muscle specific warmups as below;
Shoulder Rotations (Rotator Cuff); 2 sets of 15
Pushups; 2 sets of 20
Barbell Bentover Rows (Free Bar); 2 sets of 20
Squats; (Bodyweight then Free Bar) 2 sets of 20
Ok…time for business 💀
FOR EACH OF THESE EXERCISES, SIMPLY COMPLETE 3 SETS OF 12-15 REPS 🔥S
The barbell back squat is one of the most powerful muscle-builders out there, and often the foundation in the training plans of pro bodybuilders, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, footballers and rugby players. So, if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for us, yes? ✋🏻
The benefits are endless. The squat is one of the primary compound exercises, meaning that you use more than one joint to perform the exercise. It places significant strain on the quads, hamstrings and glutes, making it one of the greatest “bang for your buck” exercises known to man. It also strengthens the joints, ligaments and tendons around the knee and hips.
On top of this, it’s very primal and natural. Without realising we all squat everyday. Sitting down is the eccentric part of the squat. Standing back up is the concentric part of the movement. We can all do it, often without realising. It’s stands for something when even babies have the natural ability to forma perfect squat.
While it’s a great leg builder, the squat can also boost your performance in other ways. Aside from the target muscle groups, the back squat also requires sufficient ankle stability in order to drive through the heels, core stability to maintain the weight you lift, and also impressive shoulder mobility and trap activation to keep the barbell under control.
Step 2. Begin with the barbell supported on top of the traps. The chest should be up and the head facing forward. Adopt a hip-width stance with the feet turned out as needed.
Step 3. Descend by flexing the knees, refraining from moving the hips back as much as possible. This requires that the knees travel forward. Ensure that they stay align with the feet. The goal is to keep the torso as upright as possible.
Step 4. Continue all the way down, keeping the weight on the front of the heel. At the moment the upper legs contact the lower legs reverse the motion, driving the weight upward.
BENT-OVER BARBELL ROW
Most people tend to forget about training their back until the day it lets them down and they’re forced to spend hours lying in agony on their new vinyl acrylic floor (yes that’s a thing, and yes this was me). Even regular gym-goers will generally focus on the pretty muscles, the muscles they can see and spurn the opportunity to address the stress and strain a deskbound lifestyle can places on their back.
Your back muscles are the primary beneficiaries of the bent-over row, and as they increase in strength your posture will also improve so you don’t slump as much. The bent-over dumbbell row will activate your lats, traps, rhomboids and rotator cuffs works wonders for your body. A stronger back with better posture – what’s not to like?
1. Holding a barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing down), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up. The barbell should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting
2. Now, while keeping the torso stationary, breathe out and lift the barbell to you. Keep the elbows close to the body and only use the forearms to hold the weight. At the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a brief pause.
3. Then inhale and slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
4. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Caution: This exercise is not recommended for people with back problems. A Low Pulley Row is a better choice for people with back issues.
STANDING MILITARY PRESS
The standing military press is a little gem. Probably the most underused exercise in modern gyms, even though it was a staple of training for all old’timers.
In the Victorian era, long before the bench press gained credence (or, at least, before comfortable benches made it popular), it was one of the most popular competitive lifts. The earliest bodybuilders, who were more like powerlifters, supplemented their stage shows with jaw-dropping feats of strength. The military press was a staple lift and with very good reason – it’s difficult.
The military press stimulates the muscle fibres in all three heads of the shoulder muscles – and strength, by taxing your abdominals and benefiting your functional core strength.
- Start by placing a barbell that is about chest high on a squat rack. Once you have selected the weights, grab the barbell using a pronated (palms facing forward) grip. Make sure to grip the bar wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
- Slightly bend the knees and place the barbell on your collar bone. Lift the barbell up keeping it lying on your chest. Take a step back and position your feet shoulder width apart from each other.
- Once you pick up the barbell with the correct grip length, lift the bar up over your head by locking your arms. Hold at about shoulder level and slightly in front of your head. This is your starting position.
- Lower the bar down to the collarbone slowly as you inhale.
- Lift the bar back up to the starting position as you exhale.
- Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
This exercise can also be performed sitting as those with lower back problems are better off performing this seated variety.
FLAT BENCH PRESS
The barbell bench press is a classic exercise popular among all weight lifting circles. From bodybuilders to powerlifters, the bench press is a staple chest exercise in nearly every workout program.
By performing the bench press, you primarily work your pectoralis major (your chest). Other muscles which assist in moving the barbell during a bench press are other muscles of the chest, triceps, and shoulders.
Here’s a little tip, don’t try to bench press on a Monday 😂
If you’re new to the gym you’ll soon realise that Monday is the international chest day! In this great natural spectacle, you will see all of the bros hitting their chests, taking selfies and ignoring their legs 🥢
Step 1. Lie back on a flat bench. Using a medium width grip (a grip that creates a 90-degree angle in the middle of the movement between the forearms and the upper arms), lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms locked. This will be your starting position.
Step 2. From the starting position, breathe in and begin coming down slowly until the bar touches your middle chest.
Step 3. After a brief pause, push the bar back to the starting position as you breathe out. Focus on pushing the bar using your chest muscles. Lock your arms and squeeze your chest in the contracted position at the top of the motion, hold for a second and then start coming down slowly again. Tip: Ideally, lowering the weight should take about twice as long as raising it.
Step 4. Repeat the movement for the prescribed amount of repetitions.
Step 5. When you are done, place the bar back in the rack.
If you are new at this exercise, it is advised that you use a spotter. If no spotter is available, then be conservative with the amount of weight used.
The cable crunch is one of my favourite ab exercises, and the one that I’ll always fit in if I’m pressed for time.
Often, exercises for the abdominals are often focussed on bodyweight – leg raises, reverse crunches, sit-ups etc.
However, the abdominals are muscles all the same as the rest of the body. Treat with with the love the deserve and train them with a little weight.
Step 1. Kneel below a high pulley that contains a rope attachment.
Step 2. Grasp cable rope attachment and lower the rope until your hands are placed next to your face.
Step 3. Flex your hips slightly and allow the weight to hyperextend the lower back. This will be your starting position.
Step 4. With the hips stationary, flex the waist as you contract the abs so that the elbows travel towards the middle of the thighs. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement and hold the contraction for a second.
Step 5. Slowly return to the starting position as you inhale. Tip: Make sure that you keep constant tension on the abs throughout the movement. Also, do not choose a weight so heavy that the lower back handles the brunt of the work.
Step 6. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
3 OF THESE SESSIONS PER WEEK IS PLENTY!