If you’re the type spending hours at the gym—chest fly, back row, biceps curl, repeat—it’s time to reconsider your routine. Find out how to get leaner and work out less (all without a trainer).
It sounds like a bad infomercial: Get ripped in less time! We’re conditioned to believe that jaw-dropping, body-transforming results are achieved only by putting in the hours. But if you’ve been adhering to the muscle-isolating back-and-bi, chest-and-tri gospel, the truth is, you’re doing it wrong.
“Your brain doesn’t think in single ‘muscles,’ it thinks in terms of movement patterns,” says Pat Davidson, Ph.D., director of training methodology at Peak Performance, a private fitness studio in New York City. “Human evolution led to five basic movements, which encompass nearly all of our everyday motions.” Meaning your workout needs just five exercises, one from each of these categories: push (pressing away from you), pull (tugging toward you), hip-hinge (bending from the middle), squat (flexing at the knee), and plank (stabilizing your core).
It’s the approach Davidson takes when drawing up the regimens of Peak’s celebrity clients, including Gerard Butler, 50 Cent, and Jimmy Fallon. The time-crunched love it because it’s an efficient and effective workout—more taxing on the muscles, leading to increased strength and a faster metabolism. Plus, you’re not lost when your trainer isn’t around. “If you know the basics, it’s incredibly simple to build your own workout,” Davidson says.
Still—like martinis and porn—there can be too much of a good thing. “It’s stressful to the entire body,” says Jason Hartman, trainer to many U.S. Olympic bobsled and skeleton athletes and the U.S. Army Special Forces. “That means that if you overdo them, you’ll just beat yourself up. Do this style of workout no more than three or four times a week.” Mix and match the moves at right and feel okay about taking the less-time-consuming way out.