Unless you’re a professional athlete, it’s not likely that you have an unlimited amount of time to spend at the gym.
Your time is precious, but so are your workouts. You want to make sure that the time you spend in the gym (or wherever it is that you work out) really counts.
You want to get the most that you can out of everything you can give, even if that’s only a little bit.
Of course, there are many different strategies you can apply that will help save time at the gym, one of which includes performing exercises that are exceptionally efficient; moves that target multiple muscle groups. Or, as Kyle Hartcorn, a NFPT certified personal trainer and co-founder of No Limits Fitness, puts it: moves that will get you the most bang for your buck.
Below he shares five weight lifting exercises that he says are most deserving of your time at the gym because they provide a true “total-body burn.”
“The deadlift is a full body exercise when done correctly,” Hartcorn said. He explained that it will activate your posterior chain, or back muscles, as well as your glutes and hamstrings. “You don't necessarily have to do barbell deadlifts, even though they will get you the most bang for your buck. You can do kettlebell deadlifts (pictured above), dumbbell deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, single-leg deadlifts, hex bar deadlifts and the list can go on and on.”
“Another full body movement that is a great calorie killer is the bent-over row,” Hartcorn said. “This simple yet deceiving exercise works the posterior chain, grip strength, glute activation and turns on your abdominals.” He said that there are multiple ways to perform the exercise. “For instance, single-arm dumbbell row (pictured above), barbell bent-over row, two-arm dumbbell bent-over row, kettlebell bent-over row, and two-arm kettlebell bent over row.”
“If you are looking for another lower body movement, you can always go with the squat,” Hartcorn said. “The squat works not only your quads but also your glutes, upper back, hamstrings and abdominals.” When done with proper form, he says its one of the best and most challenging lifting exercises. Plus, there are multiple versions you can use to keep your routine fresh and exciting. Hart suggested goblet squats, barbell squats, front squats, safety bar squats, dumbbell squats and kettlebell front squats.
“This is one of my favorite exercises to do for upper body,” Hartcorn said. “When performing the overhead press I prefer to use a barbell and standing because it allows for you to stabilize more and it’s a lot harder than the traditional seated overhead press.” He explained that some of the muscle groups worked include the deltoids, upper back, triceps, biceps, abdominals and even glutes.
“The wide-grip pull-up is harder than the close-grip pull-up because in a wide-grip pull up your hands are in a pronated position(palms facing out) with hands being a few inches wider than your shoulders. This means it requires more from your grip and biceps,” Hartcorn explained. “Performing this exercise activates your upper back, grip strength and even abdominals." He suggested that beginners start with lat pull-downs, a similar but less-challenging exercise that mimics the movement of a pull-up. As you progress you can move on to performing pull-ups using the assisted pull-up machine and eventually work your way up to performing a full wide-grip pull up on your own.