I must consider the goals of the individual paramount before answering these questions. To get the best results for a large range of goals, machines are not always the best approach, and the best lifts for most people are going to be big multijoint or compound moves.
When I am training people in the gym, I see lots of people churning away on different machines that work different individual body parts.
To build muscle rapidly and to boost your metabolism, big whole-body moves are proven to yield great results. Your body responds to this type of work by releasing more human growth hormone and, in the case of men, testosterone.
We know that muscle is metabolically expensive, so working large muscles while you’re in the gym will burn a few more calories. We also know that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn even at rest. That is, to support the muscles you’ve built, your metabolism will be elevated (read burn more calories) when you’re outside the gym.
Following this logic, we want to work more than one set of muscles at any one time when we’re working out. Things like squats, kettlebell or
medicine ball moves, or combining two moves together to make a big move or a sequence of moves are best. You can achieve the best overall
conditioning and strength gains by conducting your workouts in this fashion.
I like to alternate between moves, somewhat like interval training. You want to constantly be in motion. There is research to indicate that the
fuel your body uses for strength training generally runs out in the neighborhood of an hour, so keeping a lid on the time will allow you to
execute intensive, efficient and effective workouts.
For instance, you could do something like this: walking lunges with a medicine ball overhead, then move immediately to TRX rows. Alternate
between those for a total of eight sets, say 10 to 15 repetitions per set.
To optimize your time in the gym and get better results, consider trying big compound moves and alternating between exercises. Try doing this just three days a week and I think you’ll be impressed with the results versus traditional circuit training or weight lifting.
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