During the last few months I have been crazy busy with a lot of things that are going on in my life. I guess this is a point in life we all reach sooner or later. Even so, I still want to be able to workout, I still want to be able to train all my muscles at least once a week and live a healthy lifestyle. And my guess is you want that too.
So, this brings me to the topic if today – what are the most effective exercises or workouts that one can do in a time efficient manner and also get as much benefits as possible from those exercises? How do you get the “best bang for your buck” in the gym?
There are literally tens of different exercises in a typical workout routine, right? That’s how weight training works, you need to work each muscle, usually by doing at least a couple of exercises for that specific muscle. I know, it takes effort and most of all it takes time.
In case time is your most critical resource, we are going to pick the 4 most effective exercises you can do in order to get in a good workout.
Before we proceed I just want to make one thing clear. This is not a get jacked easy overnight type of article. Building muscle is hard, it takes time and it takes a lot of work. What we are doing here is just picking the top most important exercises that you should do when you don’t have the time to do all of them. The hard work part is still there.
Most Effective Workout Plan
Here we go.
Deadlift is the most complex exercise or movement that you can do in the gym. This compound movement requires a lot coordination, it will build up your entire back chain of muscles, it will improve your posture, your grip, it will develop your core and it will burn out a lot of calories during the workout.
Deadlifts primarily hit your back, but also your hamstrings, depending on the variation you are doing. For example stiff leg deadlifts will put a lot more stress on the hamstrings. You can build an incredibly strong and good looking body by only doing deadlifts. This is my number one exercise to do in the gym that will make you grow stronger and bigger.
Deadlift should go right to the top of your “do to” exercises.
Why dips, you may ask. These don’t see to be very common in most muscle building regimens.
The short answer – because you can target a lot of upper body muscles with just one exercises, and you can even do it at home if you have a parallel bar. No fancy gym equipment needed here.
However, in order to make the most out of a dip workout we are going to go through the long answer.
Firstly, the dip exercise is a compound movement, which we know for a fact that are superior for building muscle when compared to isolation or single joint exercises. With dips, depending on the variation you are doing you will target your triceps, your chest and possibly a little bit of delts – the front side of the delts to be more specific.
Secondly, just as with any weighted exercise you can adjust the intensity of the dip. Even though a dip is essentially is a bodyweight exercise, you can easily play with the difficulty of the exercise. You can add more weight if you are getting to strong for your bodyweight or you can subtract weight by using a machine, in case you are a beginner or you simply want to do more reps.
Front squats is an extremely powerful exercise. More so that the deadlift, it will work more your quads and it also require that you have good lower body flexibility – mostly in your ankles and knees.
Besides the quads, front squats will also develop you posture because you will need to hold all the weight on the front side of your shoulders, at clavicle level. For this you need to have perfect posture – your back should be straight up, your rib cage must open up wide and you will also need to have a strong abs/core and back muscles in order to stabilize the weight.
Front squats is also a great exercise for activating the glutes, because of the positioning of the weight in the front part of your body, when you lift the weight up, even though the quads are doing most of the work, the glutes are taking a big hit as well.
Be careful, it’s very easy to do this exercise wrong. Most common issue is elbow positioning – elbows should point forward or even slightly upwards, so that your arms are parallel to the ground.
Weak abs or core also can mess up a front squat, so make sure that your core section is in check. Use lighter weights at first if you feel you can’t do the exercise with good form.
Lastly but not least, chin-ups is a great exercise that together with the dips will complement an upper body workout perfectly. You will work your entire upper body with just these two exercises.
Different variations of pulling up your bodyweight to the bar will develop your biceps, your back and rear delts, putting more or less emphasis on your biceps or on your back, depending on several factors you can adjust easily – such as hand placement or grip for example.
The intensity can be adjusted by adding more weight once you get too strong for your body weight, by doing pause reps or by decreasing resting periods between sets. Just be creative with it.
There you have it – the ultimate 4 exercises you can do and get the most out of your workout and spend less time in the gym.
Designing the workout routine
Even though we are talking about 4 exercises only, you should not be doing all of them during the same workout, in the same day. All of these are compound movements that will consume a lot of energy and your body needs time to recover.
A good idea would be to have these 4 exercises split in a 2-day workout program, with at least 1 resting day in-between, like this:
- Day 1: Deadlifts and Dips
- Day 2: Front Squats and Chin-Ups
This way you do in fact a full body workout each day, while you slightly shift the focus on different muscles every other day. On top of that you can do different variations of each exercise once you get bored with the routine, or when your body gets used to it.
In terms of volume, since we are doing only 2 exercises a day you should be able to do at least 5 sets per exercise, so that is a minimum of 10 sets per workout. Including the resting periods you should be able to complete such a workout in about 30 minutes. Now, that’s time effective if you ask me.