Everybody desires to work less and achieve more. Training is just the same. And there is a solution. I’m talking here not about training frequency but about workout time. You need to train faster for more results.
You can’t cut the rest periods because it will impair your performance through recovery ability between sets. The key here is density. So how can you increase productivity by tightening up your workout? There are two techniques called Alternating Sets and Circuits. The difference between them is that Alternating Sets are about two exercises and Circuits are about more than two. The main principle is the same. You take two or more exercises and alternate between sets of them. Here’s the important point. Straight sets are still cool but they take significantly more time to finish. You can use them when you’re not short on time. But why not workout faster and have more time for other activities?
Steve Reeves on the beach. He wasn’t wasting his life in the gym 24/7
1. You’ll want to choose the right exercise pairings and/or order. For the upper body, the pairings are quite obvious: upper body push/upper body pull, chest/back, biceps/triceps, dips/pull-ups, bench press/bent-over rows etc. But lower body pairings are not that obvious. The viable option is to pair heavy lower body movement like squats or deadlifts with light upper body movement like curls, triceps extensions etc. Order is important when you perform a circuit. You’ll want to perform the less demanding exercises first. For example: presses and rows first, then squats and deadlifts, because after deadlifts or squats, it’s much harder to press and row than otherwise.
2. You’ll notice that you can recover faster between sets. The number one reason is that you actively rest between each set of exercise. Let’s say that if you perform sets of military presses and pull-ups for 3 sets 5 reps in straight set fashion you’ll need approx. 120s of rest between sets. If you alternate between sets of each exercise, you’ll need approx. 60s.
Let me visualize:
|Military Presses (MP)|
|Total: 480s = 8 min|
|MP Set 1||0s|
|PU Set 1||60s|
|MP Set 2||120s|
|PU Set 2||180s|
|MP Set 3||240s|
|PU Set 3||300s|
|Total: 300s = 5 min|
You see the point. You need significantly less time to accomplish the same amount of work.
3. Don’t neglect the principle of reciprocal innervation. I picked this concept up from coach Chad Waterbury. It states that when a muscle group is stimulated, the antagonist is inhibited. For example, when you doing a set of biceps curls your triceps are being inhibited. So when you move to your set of triceps extensions your triceps will be recovered actually more.
4. You’ll be able to use these techniques more comfortably in your own home gym rather than in a crowded commercial gym. All workstations will be free and you won’t need to run through the whole gym to do a set of bench and then to the power rack to do a set of squats. Besides, if you use sandbags, kettlebells and bodyweight it becomes even easier to alternate between exercises because these implements are quite compact.
5. Using these techniques can transform an ordinary set-rep scheme volume into quite an extraordinary one. It’s because more work is done in the same/less amount of time.
6. Alternating Sets/Circuits are totally awesome for conditioning. Believe me, you’ll be huffing-n-puffing right after the first circuit. Your fat loss will skyrocket if you support your workouts with adequate diet. So it’s quite valuable bonus.
Workout A – Upper Body
A1) Military Press 4×6
A2) Weighted Pull-Ups 4×6
Alternate between sets with 60s rest intervals.
Workout B – Full-Body
A1) Weighted Dips 6×3
A2) One-Arm Bent-Over Row 6×3 (each side)
A3) Deadlift 6×3
Perform all the exercises one-by-one in a circuit fashion with 60s rest intervals
So now you have all that you need to condense the time of your workouts and reap the benefits.
Stay tuned for more on rough training.
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