Perhaps you see the actors, athletes, and singers on magazine covers and think, “There’s not enough time in the day for me to train in order to look like that.” Well, that’s false. There is enough time in the day for you to stimulate the kind of muscle growth and weight loss that uncovers a six-pack and builds a wide, masculine physique. And you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to achieve it. You just need to train smarter.
The techniques below are designed to stimulate more muscle fibers, promote a greater potential for producing strength, and more. They’ll allow you to fit in a relatively high volume of work within a short time period, effectively helping attain the celebrity look
#1: Master your technique
If you really want to maximize your time spent in the gym, you’ve gotta go back to basics. The first—and most important tip is to master the exercise form and technique. The better your form is, the more muscle stimulation you’ll create with each repetition of every set.
Poor technique does the opposite. Lifting improperly not only increases your risk for injury, it minimizes the effectiveness of your training sessions. Ask a trainer in the gym (or a buddy who knows his stuff) to watch you while you perform an exercise whose form you need to master.
#2: Build a strong “muscle-mind connection”
Gaining muscle isn’t just a physical game—not if you’re striving to take things to the next level. By actively thinking about the body parts you’re working—say, your chest during a dumbbell bench press—the movement has “a greater potential for producing strength and size gains, ultimately maximizing your workouts. Try it out. Instead of mindlessly going through the motions, concentrate on using the muscles you’re intending to target.
#3: Push past failure with high-intensity finishers
Say you reach failure on a movement like the bench press; to ramp up the intensity, prolong the set by having your training partner assist with additional forced reps, performing partial reps, holding the weight at the mid-range position (static holds), decreasing the weight by 30 percent and performing additional reps (drop set), or racking the weight and immediately performing as many pushups as you can (compound set).
By adding high-intensity techniques as finishers once you reach technical failure, you’ll fully exhaust and stimulate your muscle fibers.
#4: Pair opposing muscle groups
By pairing opposing muscle groups or opposite movements together—such as biceps with triceps, or rows with bench press—you’ll save time in the gym and improve your performance on both lifts.
#5: Focus on compound movements
Most trainees could save an incredible amount of time and effort if they stuck to the basics. That means using heavy compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, bench press variations, overhead presses, pullups, rows, kettlebell swings, lunges, and plank variations. These are some of the most effective muscle-building exercises because they target the large and small muscle groups simultaneously.
#6: Increase intensity, decrease volume
By using this technique, you’re decreasing the amount of work you’re doing while working at a higher threshold and intensity. Rather than performing 3-5 sets of a single movement, try performing 1-2 sets with each set taken to technical failure. The set stops when your body is no longer capable of performing another rep with perfect form, not when you reach a pre-determined rep.
#7: Perform heavy negatives
You will need to have access to a reliable training partner for this one. For example, if your max on bench press is 100 kgs, you might use 120 kgs and focus on lowering the load as slowly as possible. Once the weight reaches your chest, have your partner(s) help lift the weight back up. This is another highly effective technique for stimulating strength and size gains. A few sets of several reps is all you need. Any more can be overkill.