How to Lift Efficiently

"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst."

-William Penn

I often see people wasting time at the gym.

Some guys start off with Bench Press, and go on to do EVERY chest exercise possible until finally ending with a set of standard Pushups.

Worse than that, they often spend as much as 5 minutes between sets catching up with their buddies.

If you have bad habits like this when it comes to your workouts, you're probably not gonna see the results you want. And even IF you do, would it be worth it?

Why spend 10 hours a week exercising if you can achieve the same results in 4 or 5?

Why devote nearly 2 hours to a weight training session if you could achieve the same efficiency in 1 hour?

Instead of considering alternatives, people fall into faulty mindsets and convince themselves that if they can't spend 10 hours a week in the gym, they might as well not lift at all.

Here are some tips:

1) Limit Your Workout Time

There is no reason for you to be performing ANY lifting routine for over 60 minutes (this excludes any warming up).

Frankly, on the day I do Deadlifts, I often stop at the 45 minute mark just because of the intensity of the exercises.

Beginners will find great results if they lift for as little as 30 minutes.

Even for those of you who are advanced, I would try to limit the actual lifting to 45-60 minutes; your hormones start to really give out after this point.

2) Don't Talk

Stop chatting to your pals at the gym. When you're resting between sets, you should be catching your breath.

This one's hard for me especially since I'm an extrovert, but it's essential.

I'm not saying IGNORE everyone there, but keep the small talk to a minimum and remember what you're there for.

And for those already committed to someone, do yourself and your partner a favor: stop checking out the opposite sex eye candy. More to the point, don't FLIRT with the opposite sex either.

Trust me, there are far better ways to meet people.

3) Use the Right Split

If you're a natural guy aspiring to be bigger, you need to ditch the 5 or 6 day splits you see recommended in magazines.

The training variable these splits focus on is volume. The more volume a workout involves, the longer it takes to recover; this forces you to perform chest once a week since you're targeting it with 15+ sets.

One underrated training variable, in my opinion, is frequency. I would rather hit my chest twice a week instead of just once; as long as the volume is adjusted accordingly, this can lead to better gains.

For those starting out or getting back into lifting, I'd recommend a Full Body workout split.

If you're a bit more advanced, Upper/Lower is your new best friend. Just 2 Upper Body days and 2 Lower Body Days for 45-60 minutes each will stimulate your body plenty.

In fact, when work is busy for me, I do an Upper/Lower split on the weekends and a Full Body day during the middle of the week. 3 workouts may not seem like much, but trust me, it can be plenty to stimulate you (ESPECIALLY if you're running on low sleep to begin with).

4) Use the Right Exercises

You should be performing an intense lift (6-8 RM) at the start of every workout.

For example, when I'm running my Upper/Lower split, here are the lifts I emphasize on each day:

 

Upper A: Bench Press

Upper B: Overhead Press

Lower A: Squat

Lower B: Deadlift

 

These 4 lifts are safe to perform (when you do them correctly) and hit a HUGE variety of muscle fibers.

Afterwards, you should include other exercises and add isolation where needed.

For example, if you want to work on your chest, here's a good Upper Body workout:

  • Bench Press
  • Chin Ups
  • Dips
  • Inverted Rows
  • Dumbbell Pushups

If your back is lagging, try this Upper Body workout instead:

  • Bench Press
  • Barbell Rows
  • Dips
  • Chin Ups
  • Y Raises

5) Use Supersets and Giant Sets

I'm not a fan of some of the bodybuilding tricks people use at gyms. Drop sets, for example, are a waste in my opinion.

For isolation exercises, however, you'd be dumb NOT to use supersets (2 exercises performed consecutively) or even giant sets (3+ exercises performed consecutively).

How winded do Lateral Raises get you?

Are you panting heavily after a set of Dumbbell Curls?

If your answer was "yes" to either of those, then congratulations; you're officially weaker than Krillin.

Seriously though, here's my point: less intense exercises can be performed back-to-back. You'd be wasting time if you DIDN'T do that.

Here's my favorite superset for growing the arms:

  • Dumbbell Curls
  • Tricep Pushdowns

And here's a Giant Set I'll use on my Lower Body day:

  • One Leg Calf Raises
  • Captain's Chair Leg Raises
  • Mason Twists

Wrap Up

There you have it guys!

Save time in the gym so you can spend it on your family and friends instead.