People today are busier than ever. While pro athletes and bodybuilders might get paid to train, and the golden era may have glamorized workouts lasting 2-3 hours or more, most regular folks just can’t train that long – and this likely includes you. Instead of these marathon sessions, you need efficient exercises and workouts that will let you “get in and get out” of the gym. Below is a list of three efficient exercises per body part, including tips on how to best utilize them.
Each body part below will list three efficient exercises in numerical order. Exercise #1 should take top priority, then #2, and finally #3. This means that if you’re going to perform all three movements in the same workout, perform them in that order. However, if you only have time for one or two exercises, then perform them accordingly. In other words, if you only have time for one movement, do #1 or if you’re only going to use two movements, then do #1 and #2, leaving off #3.
As discussed above, please find three efficient exercises per body part listed below. These movements have been chosen because they provide the best all around combinations of:
You’ll also find noteworthy bits of information and advice for each exercise.
It bears mentioning that programming can play a huge role in workout efficiency. The above efficient exercises were all listed as if the body parts were individual of one another. However, your approach could change depending on your training split and if specific variations of exercises were used.
For example, if you performed back and biceps together, starting with wide grip, overhand pulldowns, then you may still want to do all three biceps exercises. Conversely, if you’d instead done pulldowns or weighted pull ups with a shoulder-width, underhand grip, the biceps would have been indirectly worked pretty hard already. In this case, you may only need biceps exercises #1 and #2.
Alternatively, say you were training arms by themselves. In this case, you’d likely want to go ahead and do all three exercises for both biceps and triceps since the two muscle groups don’t overlap, and training one doesn’t result in indirect stimulation of the other.
Now say you were doing a fairly truncated or athletic, strength-based session for the entire upper body as a whole. If you already did both incline press and (weighted) dips, that’s already a fair amount of pressing. The shoulders will be indirectly worked with both exercises, meaning that dumbbell presses and press behind the neck may not be necessary. Instead you could just skip directly to laterals.
There are too many different workout splits to discuss every possible option. For the most part, you’ll be fine using the initial instructions of going with the exercises in #1, #2, and #3 order. Just know that there can be a little bit of wiggle room depending on your program layout, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
A discussion on efficient exercises and workouts wouldn’t be complete unless time-economical cardio was discussed. Though the benefits of both old school, traditional cardio and intense intervals are desirable, chances are you don’t have time to do both. If nothing else, long slow cardio alone can easily eat up your allotted training time for the week.
An effective way to get adequate benefits of both old school cardio and intervals would be to mix them into the same session. On your favorite cardio machine, start off with an easy 5-minute warmup. Then repeat 10 hard intervals of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Finish up with another 15-20 minutes of moderate-paced, steady state cardio. This will have your session done in 30-35 minutes total, and need only be done a couple times per week.
All in all, it’s more than possible to still get great results when you’re budgeting for time. Use exercises that allow you to use a lot of weight, hit the muscles hard, and get the most bang for your buck. This can not only build strength, but improve aesthetics, too.