Get leaner, stronger and fitter faster – without any extra effort!
When you first start working out the results come thick and fast. You lose fat, build muscle and get fitter and stronger. You set new records for weight lifted or distance run and you think it will be this way forever. Alas, these “newbie gains” inevitably dry up as your body adjusts to the new training stimulus, which means you then have to get smart to keep your better-body mission on track. Wherever you are on your fitness journey, put into practice the following tips to ramp up your results.
1 Chase the EZ wins
If your biceps refuse to grow any bigger then it’s time to dump the dumbbells in favour of an EZ-bar to recruit and fatigue more muscle fibres and force greater growth. An EZ-bar, which is like a barbell but far shorter and with an undulating handle, stimulates greater muscle activation in your biceps than using either a straight barbell or a pair of dumbbells, according to research published in the Journal Of Life And Environmental Sciences. Dumbbells still serve a purpose, but curl with both arms at the same time to work the muscles harder, and only do single-arm alternating curls to finish off the set when you’re too fatigued to use both arms simultaneously.
2 Lift lighter for longer
The greater the amount of weight you can lift, the stronger you are, and training for greater strength is a fantastic way to ensure you are always moving towards building a bigger, leaner and fitter body. However, if your primary fitness goal is to add as much muscle mass as possible but without placing too much stress and strain on your joints, tendons and other connective tissues, then you can lift lighter weights for longer sets. Subjects who followed a 12-week weight training plan that used 75%-90% of their one-rep max (1RM) for sets of eight to 12 reps added the same amount of lean muscle mass as those who used just 20% to 50% of their 1RM but did higher-rep sets of between 20 to 25 reps, according to McMaster University in Canada.
3 Tune in and turn it on
If you’re not training alongside your favourite tunes you’re missing out on one of the quickest and easiest ways to work out harder for longer without any noticeable extra effort. People who ran while listening to music were less susceptible to fatigue than those who ran in silence, according to the Journal Of Sports Medicine And Physical Fitness, while other research found that song lyrics and their associations can heighten your emotional and physiological arousal, acting as a free and instant stimulant to keep you focused, push yourself harder and enjoy it more to boot.
4 Be a flye guy
When wanting a bigger and broader chest most men make a beeline for the bench press. There’s no doubt that the lift will help you build pec power, as well as size and strength to your triceps and shoulders, but if your gains have gone stale then consider dedicating more training time to the chest flye. Why? Because if you want to add the maximum amount of muscle to your chest your need to isolate it. Not only does the flye isolate the chest, it also creates a big stretch across your pecs during each rep, and moves the muscle through a greater range of motion, all of which leads to increased muscle growth. And you can vary the angles and kit used to work your chest in different ways to hit different parts of the muscle. Incline dumbbell flyes and the standing cable flyes are two of our favourite chest-building exercises. Do the move as perfectly as possible to make the fastest gains – and here’s how!
5 Swing and you’re winning
Fat-loss finishers are a key component of the New Body Plan training programmes and with good reason: these short but taxing high-intensity cardio drills are one of the smartest strategies to send your heart rate soaring to burn fat faster and improve cardiovascular fitness. Adding a finisher to the end of your workouts will help you strip away belly fat and get you stronger – especially if you use a kettlebell for sets of swings. Subjects who spent 12 minutes twice-a-week for six weeks doing kettlebell training – of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off work to rest ratio – not only get leaner than a control group, but also increase their maximal strength by 10% and their vertical jump best by 20%, according to the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research. Confused about the best types of cardio for fat loss? Here’s everything you need to know!