1. Eat more calories and protein More protein is always a good thing when you’re trying to build muscle. Photo by Sarah Boudreau on Unsplash. Bodybuilders know the phrase “mass builds mass.” Muscle growth is an output, and all outputs require inputs. If you’re trying to build muscle, you need to eat more calories than you burn each day — ideally, many of those calories would come from high-quality sources of protein. Many people who say they can’t build muscle are really just afraid to eat more, fearing the “bulking” phase of muscle growth during which you gain weight. While it is somewhat possible to maintain a lean body composition while building muscle, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that building muscle temporarily means gaining a little bit of body fat. Instead of focusing on weight gain, use your muscle-building phase to enjoy the strength and energy that come with extra calories. 2. Follow a structured training program A periodized training program developed by a personal trainer helps you build muscle faster. [this image came from the ShareFile). Do you walk into the gym with a plan, or do you blindly throw down weights each time? To build muscle (or to meet any fitness goal), you need to put intention behind all of your workouts. Without intention, there is no plan, and without a plan, you won’t build muscle — at least not as quickly or efficiently as you could with a plan. A periodized training program accounts for your fitness goals, training history, and current fitness level. Over the course of 6 to 12 weeks, a structured workout plan takes your physique from “clearly works out occasionally” to “wow, I want to look like that person.” Muscle comes quicker on a periodized plan because your trainer can carefully manipulate variables like intensity, volume, and frequency to keep you progressing. 3. Do less cardio Too much cardio can stall your muscle growth progress. [this image came from the ShareFile] Before getting into the details about cardio and muscle growth, let’s clear one thing up: Cardiovascular exercise has its place. It’s essential for your overall health and can help you lose body fat, among other benefits. However, too much cardio does have a negative effect on muscle growth. Muscle grows in response to activities that require strength and power, while on the flip side, muscle growth stalls when endurance is the necessary outcome. To visualize this, picture an Olympic sprinter and an Olympic marathoner — two phenomenal athletes with insane fitness. However, the sprinter typically has thicker, more defined muscles, while the marathoner typically has less definition. Both athletes run, so what’s the deal? Sprinting requires maximal output for a very short time (i.e., explosive strength) and a sprinter’s body reflects that. Running marathons requires submaximal output for a very long time (i.e., endurance), and because muscle takes up a lot of energy, a professional marathoner’s body will utilize as little muscle as possible to get them across the finish line. Moral of the story: If you’re hitting the treadmill every day, tone it down a notch if you want to build muscle. To learn more about building muscle, ask a World Gym personal trainer about workout plans and muscle growth strategies.
A good warmup always precedes a good workout. Whether you like it or not, getting warm is a key part of improving your strength, mobility, and overall fitness. This complete warm-up routine only takes five minutes — that’s all you need to drastically improve your workout. Related: How many reps will build muscle? Warmup Format Flow through 10 reps of each of the following warm-up movements. Complete two to four rounds, or until you feel ready to attack the weights. Cat-Cow Pose Also known as: spinal flexion/extension Cat-cow pose is a great starting place for any warmup, as it helps to loosen up your neck, back, chest, and shoulders. How to do cat-cow pose: Start on all fours on the ground. Stack your shoulders, elbows, and wrists so your arms make a straight line perpendicular to the ground. Stack your hips over your knees to make your thighs perpendicular to the ground. Engage your core and find your neutral spine position. Inhale and round your spine, tucking your chin and pressing your palms into the ground. Once you reach your end range of motion in cat pose, exhale and begin to arch your back. Lift your chest and chin high, keeping your palms pressed into the ground. When you reach your end range of motion, return to your neutral position and reset for another rep. Bootstrappers Also known as: squat-to-stand mobility Bootstrappers should be a go-to warm-up movement for anyone who struggles with hip or spinal mobility in the squat. In addition to priming the squat position, bootstrappers prepare you to engage your core for weighted movements. How to do bootstrappers: Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend down to touch your toes. Keep your spine as neutral as possible (don’t round) and clasp your fingers around the toe box of your shoe. Hang out in this position for a second. Still holding onto your toes, slowly lower yourself into a squat. Bring the crown of your head to the sky and look forward. Hold this bottom position for a few seconds. Maintain the hold on your toes and send your hips upward so you return to a forward fold. Downward Dog to Cobra Also known as: divers Downward dog to cobra combines two classic yoga movements that prime and prep your shoulders, as well as mobilize your upper spine and ankles. How to do downward dog to cobra: Start in the downward dog position. Your body should make a triangular shape with the ground. Bend your elbows to slowly lower your head to the ground. Just before your head touches the ground, extend your arms and push your torso up. Finish with your back arched, arms fully extended, and chest high. To get back into downward dog, straighten your spine, send your hips upward, and press your head through the window of your arms. Cossack Squats Also known as: deep side lunges For those looking to maximize hip and ankle mobility, cossack squats are a must-have in any warm-up routine. cossack squats also build your single-leg strength and prepare your knees for the stress of a loaded movement. How to do cossack squats: Start by standing with a wide stance, as if you were preparing to perform a sumo deadlift. Keep your toes forward or pointed out just slightly. Lower to one side, dropping into the squat as deeply as you can, breaking the parallel plane if possible. As you descend, keep the foot of your working leg planted firmly, but raise onto the heel of your non-working foot. The toes of your non-working foot should point to the sky. Pause and then push back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg. Forward Fold With Spinal Rotation Also known as: folded windmill Forward folds alone are great for improving flexibility but adding a spinal rotation into the mix is better for improving mobility (yes, there’s a difference). How to do forward folds with spinal rotations: Stand with your feet together. Hinge at the hips and reach down to touch your toes, or as far down your leg as you can. It’s fine to grab your calves or ankles. Anchor your hands beneath your toes or around your legs. Take a deep breath. Exhale as you lift your right hand to the sky, following it with your gaze. Twist until you feel slight tension in your spine, keeping your left hand anchored to your body. Inhale when you reach your end range of motion. Then, exhale and bring your right hand back to center. Repeat on the opposite side.
You just finished a set of bicep curls and your muscles feel like they’re about to explode out of your arms. You look in the mirror and admire your suddenly huge biceps. Congrats — you’ve achieved the coveted muscle pump. The science behind the pump What you know as the “muscle pump” is actually called “transient hypertrophy.” Don’t let that super-sciency-sounding word scare you. Hypertrophy is the term for building muscle, and transient means it only lasts a short time — if you’ve ever gotten a muscle pump, you know just how fleeting it is. Muscle pumps occur largely because of fluid buildup that accumulates in your muscles when you work out. When you lift weights, blood rushes to your working muscles, and lactic acid begins to build up and draw water into your muscle fibers. Together, these two triggers — increased blood flow and lactic acid buildup — cause individual muscle cells to swell, ultimately making your muscles look bigger while you’re working out. If you’ve had a muscle pump before, you’re probably familiar with the feeling of fullness or heaviness you get in your muscles after an intense set. That’s all the fluid building up in your hard-working muscles. Does a muscle pump help you build muscle? Getting a muscle pump certainly makes you feel fitter, stronger, and bigger — but those results aren’t necessarily long-lasting. It’s called “transient” hypertrophy for a reason. Muscle pumps disappear about as fast as they come on, because once you finish working out, your body has no reason to hold onto all that blood in non-working muscles. As for the lactic acid, your body wants to flush that out as fast as possible. Getting a muscle pump is a good sign you got in a good workout, but don’t count on your muscles looking pumped when you wake up the next morning. It is worth noting that getting a pump typically means you worked your muscles hard enough to induce adaptation (growth), although evidence is inconclusive. How to get a muscle pump The most efficient way to get a muscle pump is to lift weights, specifically at high volumes (more reps at moderate loads). The repeated contractions and extensions of your muscle fibers during weightlifting makes it easy for fluids to enter your muscle cells. To maximize your muscle pump, try these tips: Do high-volume weightlifting instead of high-load weightlifting. More muscle contraction means more reason for your body to send blood to those muscles. Plus, science says high-volume weightlifting is the best way to build muscle overall. Hydrate before and during lifting weights. Getting a pump is all about fluids, and if you’re dehydrated, your body has less water to pump your muscles with. Eat carbs before you work out. Carbohydrates hold onto water in your body, which might contribute to a better pump. Utilize supersets and tri-sets. Like mentioned before, getting a pump is all about volume. Implementing supersets (two exercises back-to-back) and tri-sets (three exercises) is a simple way to increase your overall volume and decrease overall rest time, which should increase your chances of getting a muscle pump. Want to learn more about getting a mad muscle pump? Talk to a World Gym personal trainer about individual training plans to maximize muscle growth.
Do these three things to get fit fast. We’re going to let you in on a little secret: You can’t cheat fitness. Fitness takes time. Building muscle, losing fat, and improving your health markers might be the toughest endeavors you ever commit to, but you can avoid unnecessary frustration by knowing exactly what workouts to do to get fit as fast as possible. World Gym doesn’t encourage quick fixes, fad diets, or any workout plans that promise fast-tracked results. World Gym stands by science, and there’s just no changing the fact that fitness doesn’t happen overnight. That said, here are three tricks of the trade to help you maximize your results. High-Intensity Interval Training HIIT burns more calories in less time than other types of workouts. The science doesn’t lie: Study after study has shown that HIIT produces the same health benefits as other types of exercise, such as aerobic cardio and resistance training, in less time. AKA, HIIT gives you the most bang for your gym buck. While World Gym doesn’t necessarily recommend you stack your workout routine with only HIIT workouts, if you are short on time and want to get fit fast, a few HIIT sessions each week will lead you to your goal most efficiently. High-Volume Resistance Training Do more reps for improved fitness. Strength training is integral to overall health and fitness, and any range of sets and reps provides benefits. However, research suggests that volume impacts your returns more than any other factor, including weight. Studies have shown that high-volume resistance training increases muscle hypertrophy more than low-volume strength training. So, if your goal is to get fit as fast as possible, tailor your routine to include higher rep ranges with moderate weights rather than trying to hit a one-rep max every time you enter the weight room. Consistency, Frequency, and Simplicity Group fitness, like our World Gym Athletics classes, can help you stay consistent. Like we said before, World Gym doesn’t support quick fixes. No matter what type of exercise you choose, consistency and frequency are key. Your ability to stick to a routine and show up, session after session, dictates how fast you get fit (and how long you stay fit). Simplicity is key — because studies show that people are more likely to stick to a simple, achievable fitness program rather than a program that requires you to do too much, too fast. Despite what you may see on your Instagram feed, you don’t need to incorporate the newest, craziest exercises into your routine. Whether you choose HIIT or resistance training to propel you to your goals, the basics — functional compound movements like squats — always win (especially for new exercisers). A Workout Routine to Get Fit Fast Taking what you just learned about HIIT and high-volume resistance training, plus the known health benefits of low-intensity exercise and mobility work, try one of these workout routines to get fit fast. If you can work out every day: Monday: HIIT Tuesday: Resistance training Wednesday: Mobility or yoga flow for recovery Thursday: Low-intensity, steady-state cardio for recovery Friday: Resistance training Saturday: HIIT Sunday: Low-intensity, steady-state cardio for recovery If you can work out three times per week: Monday: HIIT Wednesday: Resistance training Friday: HIIT Go for a walk or do mobility work on non-gym days. Not sure where to start? Visit a World Gym near you and see how a qualified personal trainer can help. Want help building a workout routine outside the gym? World Gym Anywhere has hundreds of on-demand workouts including strength, cardio, HIIT, recovery, skills and express (20 minutes or less) workouts. Head to the website for pricing, support, and more details.
Find out if full-body or split workouts are best. Weights vs. cardio. Carbs vs. keto. Volume vs. load. There’s no shortage of controversy in the fitness industry, and one of the biggest ongoing debates is whether a full-body or split workout plan brings the most gains. A full-body workout involves exercising your entire body and stimulating overload in all muscle groups within one workout. Examples: A one-minute on, 30-seconds off circuit workout wherein each minute of work targets a different muscle group, or a strength workout consisting of full-body compound movements, such as thrusters (squat and overhead press). A split workout, on the other hand, involves isolating muscle groups and movement patterns. For example, you might work out your back and biceps on one day and your lower posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes and calves) on another day. The thought process behind split workouts is that isolating muscle groups allows you to target them more intensely and induce more muscle growth, but it doesn’t always work out that way in real life. Here’s why. Benefits of full-body workout plans Tire flips are a great full-body workout. Most people will see more success with full-body workout plans simply because most people don’t have five to eight hours to work out each week. Take a gander at some of the benefits of full-body workouts: They’re efficient. You can burn more calories in less time. They’re highly effective. You practice major movement patterns and work your largest muscles. They’re quick. You generally don’t need to spend much time in rest intervals. They’re functional. You’re kind of forced to focus on compound movements (like squats) because of the time factor and, let’s face it, there are few real-life opportunities that involve triceps cable push-downs anyway. They’re forgiving. If you miss a workout, it’s no biggie, because you’re not neglecting an entire muscle group by missing that workout. Benefits of split workout plans Isolation exercises have unique benefits compared to full-body exercises. A select few will see tremendous success with split workout routines. These people tend to have their fitness very dialed in and can commit to a plan, reducing their risk of neglecting muscle groups by missing split workouts. Here are some benefits of split workout plans for those who can stick to them: They’re customizable. You can fine-tune your workouts to concentrate your efforts and strengthen any weaknesses. They’re specific. If you have a specific strength goal, you can tailor a split workout routine to help you meet that goal. For example, if you want to master the single-leg squat, you can spend more time doing unilateral leg strength exercises. They’re very adjustable. If you get injured, you can still follow a split workout routine. Simply adjust it to avoid aggravating your injury. They’re structured. If you thrive with structure and routine, you’ll thrive with a split workout plan. They’re (also) effective. Split workout routines are highly effective for building mass and improving body composition. Should you do a full-body or split workout routine? The best workout plan for you depends on how much time you have (and your goals). You’re probably tired of hearing this, but… It depends. For the vast majority of people, full-body workout routines provide the most benefits and the best results because most people simply don’t have the time to fully commit to a split workout routine. A full-body workout plan ensures you exercise all of the important movement patterns and muscle groups, even if you only have two or three 30-minute workouts each week. Conversely, to reap the benefits of a split workout plan, you need to dedicate several hours each week to working out—and avoid missing workouts or adjusting your routine when you do. Need help deciding which type of workout routine is best for you? Stop by your local World Gym to see how a personal trainer can help. References/Links for More Information A Comparison Between Total Body and Split Routine Resistance Training Programs in Trained Men Influence of Resistance Training Frequency on Muscular Adaptations in Well-Trained Men The effects of two equal-volume training protocols upon strength, body composition and salivary hormones in male rugby union players Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis of the Effect of Resistance Training on Whole-Body Muscle Growth in Healthy Adult Males
You’re hyped. You just PR’d your deadlift and you can’t wait to come back and lift again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. More workouts, more gains, more PRs, right? Full stop. Is it really a good idea to throw down with a barbell every day? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of lifting weights every day. Benefits of lifting weights every day The main benefit of frequent weight training is increased strength. Stronger muscles: On today’s episode of “state the obvious,” we explain that more weightlifting equals more strength. In all seriousness, frequency might just be the variable you need to tweak in order to get stronger. Healthier bones: Weight-bearing exercise is proven to improve bone density, which is a key factor in your ability to stay active as you age. In older people, lifting weights helps reduce the number of falls and fractures. In younger people, lifting weights is a preventative practice against osteoporosis. Improved endurance: Improved muscular endurance, to specify. Lifting weights often in higher rep ranges (10-plus reps per set) improves the aerobic capacity of your muscles. Better body composition: If you don’t currently lift weights every day (or at all), doing so could be the spark that ignites your metabolism. Weightlifting burns a lot of calories per session, induces post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), and builds muscle, all of which can help you achieve a leaner physique. Pitfalls of lifting weights every day You might find it hard to recover from workouts if you lift every day. Inhibited recovery: Perhaps the biggest downfall to daily strength training is that your body doesn’t get a real chance to recover. This can lead to muscle overuse injuries or issues with muscle imbalances if you don’t carefully plan your workouts. Split workout routines can help skirt this problem, but the truth is, other forms of exercise — or a full-out rest day — can do your body a lot of good. Persistent soreness: Lifting without allowing your body to recover in between workouts spells chronic DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness), unless you carefully schedule your workouts and optimize muscle recovery. Diminishing returns: Lifting weights everyday can cause you to hit a plateau like a brick wall. If you aren’t manipulating variables in your workouts, such as load, volume or range of motion, you’ll quickly find yourself battling diminishing returns. Boredom: If you’re reading this, you’re probably not the type to get bored of working out. But, hey, it can happen to even the most dedicated gym junkies, especially when they perform the same type of workout day-in and day-out. Can you lift weights every day? With a plan, you can do strength training every day. If you implement some basic best practices, you can certainly hit the weights every day and see phenomenal strength, mass and overall fitness gains from your efforts. Just keep these few things in mind to avoid the potential perils described above: Change up your routine. If you must lift weights daily, don’t do a full-body lifting workout every day. That’s a recipe for muscular disaster. Instead, follow a split plan. Follow the principle of progressive overload. Frequency isn’t the only factor influencing your workout results. Your body requires a constant challenge to adapt, which means making your workouts harder is key to presenting plateaus. But, don’t go heavy every day. You don’t need to max out your deadlift, squat and bench every week. Allow yourself some lighter lifting days and you’ll be surprised at how strong you feel on heavy days. Prioritize sleep and recovery. All your hard work is for naught if you don’t get enough rest or optimize your nutrition. Talk to a World Gym personal trainer to learn more about creating a safe and effective daily workout plan. Links for More Information/References National Osteoporosis Foundation: What Is Osteoporosis? Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) | ACE Blog Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) Weekly Training Frequency Effects on Strength Gain: A Meta-Analysis Effect of Resistance Training Frequency on Gains in Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis How many times per week should a muscle be trained to maximize muscle hypertrophy? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of resistance training frequency Resistance Training Frequencies of 3 and 6 Times Per Week Produce Similar Muscular Adaptations in Resistance-Trained Men Fatigue and underperformance in athletes: the overtraining syndrome Diagnosis and prevention of overtraining syndrome: an opinion on education strategies
After a long road trip, your car engine takes a while to cool off, right? Your body is the same way: After a workout, it doesn’t immediately return to its resting state. It takes a while to cool down and restore homeostasis. During this cool-down period, your body continues to consume extra oxygen and burn calories even after you stop moving. This is called the afterburn effect, and taking advantage of it could help you make the most of your workouts. Understanding the afterburn Just like a car engine, your body needs time to cool off after a lot of work. “Afterburn” is a buzzword for “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC). This phenomenon earned its buzzy name because “afterburn” accurately describes what happens in your body after an intense workout. The demands of a workout spur your metabolism to increase in order to produce more energy, which requires increased oxygen consumption and chemical reactions, among other things. When you finish working out, your body’s engine is still revving — now that the work is done, the recovery process begins. To recover, your body continues to consume a lot of oxygen. The excess oxygen you’re consuming helps your body restore blood oxygen levels, replenish muscle glycogen stores, begin the muscle repair process, and bring your body temperature back down to a normal level. All of these goings-on require energy, meaning your body must burn calories to facilitate these recovery processes. Certain types of workouts can keep your body in that post-exercise heightened state for a longer period of time, which can contribute to greater calorie burn after your workout. How to keep burning calories after your workout Follow four simple rules to get the best afterburn. Now you know what the afterburn effect is, but the real question is: How do you actually generate EPOC? All workouts have four main components: Intensity: How hard are you working? Duration: How long is your workout? Structure: Are you doing a steady-state workout or intervals with rest periods? Modality: Are you doing cardio, strength training, or something else? Research shows that the greatest afterburn occurs when: You work out at higher intensities — at least 75 percent of your VO2 max, or about an eight on the Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale. You exercise for at least 30 minutes. You do short bouts of exercise (intervals) instead of steady-state exercise. You lift heavy weights or perform weighted or explosive cardio circuits (like our World Gym Athletics workouts). Another factor to consider is novelty. The human body adapts and becomes efficient at performing the tasks it’s used to, so it’s important to add new movements to your routine. This forces your body to perform tasks it isn’t used to, thus work harder, and contribute to a greater afterburn effect. Impact of the afterburn effect The afterburn effect is small but cumulative. Work hard and keep burning extra calories after your workout. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, like most things in fitness, the effects of EPOC have been exaggerated and over-glamorized. EPOC exists, sure, but the impact isn’t as great as most people think. For starters, the level of intensity needed to generate an impactful afterburn is high. That level of intensity hurts, and most people don’t care to work out that hard more than once or twice a week (or at all). Even at a high intensity level, most research shows that EPOC burns less than 100 extra calories per workout. Still, 100 extra calories after four or five workouts per week adds up — an extra 400 or 500 calories burned per week can definitely help you lose weight and get leaner. It really comes down to this: How many grueling workouts are you willing to do each week? To learn more about the most effective types of workouts, talk to a personal trainer at your World Gym. References Comparison of energy expenditure elevations after submaximal and supramaximal running Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption High- and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption in men with metabolic syndrome Six Weeks of Moderate Functional Resistance Training Increases Basal Metabolic Rate in Sedentary Adult Women Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption Misconceptions about Aerobic and Anaerobic Energy Expenditure Intensity of resistance exercise determines adipokine and resting energy expenditure responses in overweight elderly individuals
You want to get stronger, faster, more skilled. You see lean and athletic people doing all sorts of crazy moves on Instagram, so you think that must be what it takes. You cherry-pick your favorites and do them in random succession. You have good intentions, but you also have shiny object syndrome. The key to fitness isn’t slapping together every exercise in existence. It’s not about mastering the most complex movements you see on Instagram. In actuality, getting fit is really quite simple — it’s all about this one concept called “periodization.” Why everyone should follow a periodized training plan It’s important to strike a balance between fun and intentional. To understand the benefits of periodization, it’s helpful to know the guiding concepts behind periodized training: Purpose and intent: Random exercise yields random results. Unless you truly don’t care about what you get from your efforts in the gym, you shouldn’t be cutting, pasting, and slapping random movements together. That’s a good way to end up frustrated or injured. Periodized training is intentional. Every workout has a purpose. This element is key — without purpose and intent, your goals play keep-away. When you prioritize periodization, you hop on the fast-track to your goals. Progressive overload: The human body adapts. It’s designed to do so because that’s survival physiology. However, adaptation is a double-edged sword when it comes to fitness. Adaptation allows us to get stronger and faster, but it also leads the body to become more efficient. And in fitness, we want to bust through efficiency plateaus. Doing the same thing over and over again leads to efficiency, thus plateaus. The principle of progressive overload stipulates that the body needs constant challenges and changes to continue adapting (AKA, getting fitter). So, why should you follow a periodized training plan? Because that’s the only way you’ll see continual and significant improvements to your fitness. Periodization in World Gym Athletics The new World Gym Athletics programming focuses on functional movement and progression. World Gym Athletics, our flagship performance-focused workout program, follows a scientifically-backed periodization structure complete with block periodization and linear periodization. The Plan The all-new World Gym Athletics periodized programming breaks up a one-year macrocycle into three phases of 16 weeks (four months). Each 16-week phase is then broken into smaller chunks to keep the focus tight and the workouts intentional. No matter what your training status is, World Gym Athletics coaches can modify and scale workouts to suit your needs. The same goes for athletes who think this might be too easy — promise, we can make it tough. Every World Gym location will implement this new periodized training, so no matter where life takes you, you can keep trucking along toward your fitness goals. And don’t worry about missing a day: This program is designed so that missing a workout here and there isn’t detrimental to your progress. The Phases Prepare: This is where you’ll ease into your new programming. The focus is on biomechanics and moving through full ranges of motion without pain. In this phase, you’ll master important positions such as the squat, hip hinge, and overhead extension before increasing loads. Progress: This is where you grow and improve. The emphasis lies on building strength, improving skills, and increasing endurance to prepare you for phase three. Perform: This is all about reaching your peak. Phase three readies you to perform things you may have previously only dreamed of. Athletes who complete the full cycle will be able to participate in strenuous activities like obstacle course races, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, endurance events, and more without pain or injury. The Workouts Down to the nitty-gritty: Workouts are the meat of the program and what you’ll focus on day to day. Each workout advances our goal of equipping every athlete with the perfect blend of performance and sustainability. We accomplish this by incorporating elements of high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, endurance, mobility, and functional training across the week. Each workout begins and concludes with a discussion, so all athletes leave feeling informed and confident about the program. Feel like the new-and-improved World Gym Athletics is for you? Talk to a trainer or staff member at your World Gym.
How great would it be if you could just waltz into the gym and hit heavy squats right off the bat? Don’t even answer that question because that will never — or should never — happen. Just like your body doesn’t cool down immediately after a workout (think about how long your heart rate stays elevated), it doesn’t warm up in a matter of seconds, either. Your body must undergo a series of physiological changes before it’s ready to exercise intensely. Without giving your body a chance to prepare, your workout will be subpar at best and lead to an injury at worst. In this article, learn exactly what you need to do to maximize your workout results and how to accomplish all of them through a dedicated warmup. 1. Increase Blood Circulation Blood doesn’t get the credit it deserves when it comes to fitness. It gets overshadowed by joints and muscles — ironic, considering blood supports the movement of joints and muscles. Blood delivers critical nutrients and oxygen to working muscles and joints, without which those body parts can’t function at an optimal level. Increasing blood circulation should be the first component of any warmup. Not only does increased blood flow support movement, but it’ll get you feeling warm and loose. To increase blood circulation before a workout, do some easy effort monostructural work. Monostructural work is any form of rhythmic movement that follows a single pattern. In other words, it’s what most people think of as traditional cardio: walking, jogging, cycling, rowing, or stair-stepping. This type of work also increases your heart rate and core body temperature, both of which improve overall workout performance. 2. Mobilize Your Joints Next up: mobility work. You probably didn’t want to hear that (does anyone actually like mobility work? Asking for a friend). Nonetheless, it’s important. Performing dynamic mobility exercises before a workout allows you to access deeper ranges of motion in all positions, which in turn forces your body to recruit more muscle fibers to complete a movement. More muscle fibers working means there’s a greater opportunity for strength gains and muscle growth. In short: Mobile joints –> deeper range of motion –> better lifts –> more gains. 3. Prime Your Muscles Finally, it’s time to prime the muscles you plan to use in your workout. This is where warmups transition from general to specific. It’s also the part that makes the biggest impact on your workout performance. Priming involves targeting muscles to fire them up before a full workout or before attempting a specific lift. For example, if you plan to do heavy deadlifts, you’d prime the hamstrings and glutes with exercises like good mornings and single-leg glute bridges. If you plan to do heavy overhead presses, you’d prime your shoulders with front raises, internal and external rotation, and similar movements. Many people see priming as extra work that just tires you out before your workout, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Priming exercises are meant to be lightweight and intentional — the goal is to spark the mind-to-muscle connection to get the most out of your efforts. Want to learn more about getting the best results from your workouts? Talk to a World Gym personal trainer about smart fitness programming.
Hamstring exercises are an oft-overlooked but extremely important part of a well-rounded training program. You need strong hamstrings for most lower body exercises, especially pulling movements such as deadlifts. Strong hamstrings also increase your explosive strength in lifts like power cleans and snatches. Plus, mighty hamstrings are good-looking hamstrings, and that’s no bonus to overlook. To help you out on your leg-building endeavor, we created this guide to three of the best exercises for your hamstrings. 1. Barbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL) Variations: Double dumbbell or kettlebell Romanian deadlifts Why this is one of the best exercises for your hamstrings: A classic variation of the traditional deadlift, Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) isolate your hamstrings and glutes more than any other barbell movement. How to do the barbell Romanian deadlift: Set up with a barbell as if you’re going to do traditional deadlifts. Use a grip you’re comfortable with. Deadlift the bar to start your first RDL from the hang position. With a slight bend in your knees, send your hips backward and simultaneously lower the bar. Keep the bar path tight — don’t let it stray too far from your legs. Keep bending until you feel tension (but not pain) in your hamstrings. Make sure to keep a neutral spine. Once you reach that end range of motion, squeeze your hamstrings to return to the starting position. 2. Barbell Good Mornings Variations: Resistance band good mornings Why this is one of the best exercises for your hamstrings: Another hinging movement, good mornings mimic Romanian deadlifts but shift the load to your posterior chain. Placing the barbell on your shoulders increases the tension in the lower portion of your hamstrings rather than the gluteus-hamstring tie-in. How to do the barbell good morning: Place a barbell on your shoulders as if you were doing squats. You can take the bar from a rack or power clean it from the floor and press it overhead. Hinge at the hips. Press your hips back, keeping just a soft bend in the knees. When you feel slight tension in your hamstrings, bend at the hips, pressing your torso downward until you reach your end range of motion. Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes to return to the starting position. Make sure to fully extend your hips at the end of each rep. 3. Cross-Body Kettlebell Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift Variations: Dumbbell single-leg RDL Why this is one of the best exercises for your hamstrings: This unilateral movement requires extreme recruitment and control from your hamstrings. The cross-body aspect increases the need for balance and stability. How to do single-leg Romanian deadlifts: Hold the kettlebell in your right hand. Plant your left foot and keep a slight bend in your left knee. Shift your hips back and lower the kettlebell, aiming for the floor in front of your left foot. Lower until you feel tension, but only as long as you can keep a neutral spine. Squeeze your left hamstring muscles to return to the starting position. Complete all reps on your left leg before repeating these steps with your right leg. For more fitness advice, head to our guide on how to maximize your workout results and how to get fit as fast as possible.
You know you need to work out to stay healthy and fit. But do you know how hard you should work out? Many people think they need to work out at the highest intensity possible every day, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your weekly workout routine should contain a healthy mix of high-, moderate-, and low-intensity physical activity. Heart rate training is a valuable tool to help you hit all those different workout intensities. In our World Gym Athletics programming, we use heart rate training to ensure every athlete is getting the most out of their workout. Here is how you can start using rate training in your workouts. Why you should try heart rate training During World Gym Athletics workouts, your heart rate monitor allows you to stay within your optimal intensity range for the day. Heart rate training provides real-time feedback about how hard you’re working during exercise. This means you can adjust your workout intensity based on your goals for the given workout. That, in turn, means you can set and achieve specific, data-driven goals for each session. For example, if you want to go for a recovery run, wearing a heart rate monitor can prevent you from running too fast on your easy day. The same concept applies to high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, and other forms of exercise. How to start heart rate training Heart rate training is simple with a monitor like MyZone. Well, first you need a way to measure your heart rate. If you wear an Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, or other type of smartwatch, you already have a way to do so. Chest strap heart rate monitors, like MyZone, use electrocardiogram technology and tend to be more accurate than wrist-worn devices that use optical tracking, so if you want to get serious, go with one of those. Arm straps are another good choice, but they also use optical tracking. Once you have your device of choice, it’s time to put it to use. Heart rate training is all about beats per minute (BPM) and how close your BPM is to your max heart rate during any given workout. Heart rate training utilizes five heart rate zones, all of which correspond to a certain percentage of your max heart rate (MHR). Each zone elicits a different response from your body. The five heart rate zones Use these five zones to achieve a desired outcome from each workout: Very light effort: 50 to 59% MHR Light effort: 60 to 69% MHR Moderate effort: 70 to 79% MHR Hard effort: 80 to 89% MHR Very hard effort: 90 to 99% MHR Calculate your heart rate zones A World Gym Athletics coach can help you calculate your max heart rate. To find your heart rate zones, calculate your max heart rate. For World Gym Athletics, we use the Hunt Method: 211 – (your age x 0.64). For instance, if you’re 25 years old, you would multiply 25 x 0.64 to get 16, then subtract 16 from 211 to get 195. With 195 BPM as your max heart rate, your heart rate zones approximately come out to: Very light effort: 97 to 116 Light effort: 117 to 135 BPM Moderate effort: 136 to 154 BPM Hard effort: 155 BPM to 174 BPM Very hard effort: 175+ BPM As a caveat, the formula isn’t appropriate for everyone. Beginners may need to adjust their estimated MHR down. A World Gym Athletics coach can help you do this. Staying in an optimal heart rate zone during workouts ensures you don’t over-tax your body, but you push it when it’s time to get intense. To learn more, talk to a coach at your World Gym.
It’s 100% possible to build muscle without lifting weights. When people decide they want to build muscle and get stronger, the first thing that comes to mind is usually weight training. They get started with dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells because they hear it’s the best way to gain muscle. And it is. Research proves weightlifting results in the most significant muscle growth compared to cardio, high-intensity interval training, and other forms of exercise. However, while lifting weights remains the most efficient way to build muscle, it’s far from the only way. Next time you find yourself without barbells and dumbbells handy, try one of these five types of exercise for building muscle. Calisthenics Calisthenics exercises include all bodyweight strength training movements. The simplest way to build muscle without weights is to do bodyweight resistance exercises. The fancy name for bodyweight resistance training is “calisthenics.” Many people think calisthenics training is reserved for elite gymnasts who can do flagpoles and muscle-ups, but, calisthenics training also includes basic bodyweight exercises. Squats, push-ups, lunges, pull-ups, and sit-ups all count as calisthenics. Plyometrics Plyometric exercises are powerful and explosive. You can think of plyometrics as bouncy calisthenics. Movements such as jump squats and jump lunges, clapping push-ups, burpees, tuck jumps, single-leg hops, and long jumps all fall into the plyometrics category — and they can all help you build strength and muscle. Sprinting Sprinting builds muscle in your lower body, especially the glutes and hamstrings. Running long distance may not help you build muscle but sprinting definitely can! Fast sprints require immense power from the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. Your core also activates to stabilize your torso and your arms provide torque, so sprinting is effectively a full-body muscle-building exercise. Swimming Swim a few laps and tell us your muscles don’t burn. We’re waiting… Swimming builds muscle through resistance, just like every other strengthening exercise. Even though swimming is technically considered cardio, water provides resistance as your body moves through it, which challenges your muscles. This makes swimming much more effective at building muscle than other forms of cardio, such as jogging or cycling. Swimming in open water makes for an even greater challenge. Different swim strokes provide additional muscle-building potential, too. For instance, butterfly is way tougher than freestyle and can build up strength in your shoulders, core, and hips. Suspension Training Suspension training makes bodyweight exercises more challenging. Suspension training requires minimal equipment (a TRX or similar setup) but is still a simple and portable way to build muscle compared to weightlifting. With a suspension trainer, you can perform hundreds of exercises for your lower and upper body, as well as your core. As an added bonus, suspension training is really great for improving stability and core control. Mountain Biking If you’re up for some adventure, mountain biking poses a serious challenge to your leg muscles. Climbing hills on foot is tough but climbing hills on a bike will make your quads scream. Tackling obstacles such as rock beds and learning tricks such as bunny hops will improve your overall fitness, too. So, head out and hit the trails to get strong — just don’t forget your helmet! Resistance Bands Resistance bands offer great versatility. Similar to a suspension system, resistance bands add an extra layer of difficulty to basic bodyweight movements. You can resistance bands to up the ante on movements such as air squats, as well as mimic barbell and dumbbell movements. For instance, looping a resistance band under your feet and around your shoulders creates ample tension in the posterior chain, so you can practice hinging movements such as good mornings and Romanian deadlifts (things that are super hard to accomplish with no tension). Finally, with resistance bands, you can perform isolated movements to strengthen individual muscles or muscle groups, such as front raises, lateral raises, or glute kick-backs.