(can also be viewed with graphics at https://isolatorfitness.com/blog/)

Who wouldn’t love being about to work smarter not harder in the gym and get even better results than you’ve ever seen before? It might sound too good to be true but hear us out, because it’s easier than it seems, and the results are real. The best part is that you don’t even have to learn new exercises; all you have to do is tweak the way that you perform exercises that are likely already a part of your routine. Here are thirteen easy examples of ways that you can work smarter not harder in the gym, and get the same (if not better) results than before.

Don’t Rush
Do Warm Up

I know, I know, you’re excited to get out there and get your sweat on. But taking a few minutes before each workout to make sure that your muscles are warm and stretched is the best way to make sure that you don’t pull, strain, or otherwise seriously harm your body. Just think about the amount of time and progress that you could lose in the gym if you hurt yourself during a workout and can’t continue your workout or worse, have to stop working out for an extended period of time until you are healed. Now compare that to the miniscule amount of time that it’s going to take you to warm up your muscles. It’s suddenly a very easy choice isn’t it? In case you need more of an incentive to warm up before your workout, just remember that you are more likely to get results when your muscles are warmed up, than when they’re cold.

Don’t Stretch Statically
Do Stretch Dynamically

Now that you’re warmed up you might think that you’re ready to jump right onto that treadmill, or start pumping out reps on the weight bench, but you’d be wrong. Not only do your muscles have to be warm to avoid unnecessary injury, but they also need to be stretched well. Even though you’ve done your warm up, it’s better for your muscles to be stretched dynamically, while you move, rather than statically, while you stand in one position. This gives your body more control over the moves that you are doing. More often than not dynamic stretches also allow you to stretch more than one muscle or muscle group at a time, allowing you to work smarter not harder.

Don’t Run Everyday
Do Mix In Interval Training

Running is great for your cardiovascular health, especially if you run outside on a natural road or path, so we are by no means suggesting that you quit your running routine. Instead of running everyday though, we recommend switching it up and adding in about twenty to thirty minutes of high intensity interval training about three times per week. The variety will keep your muscle growth from stagnating. Interval training is also a cardiovascular exercise, so even though you will have to avoid running on your interval days, your heart and lungs will still get in a nice workout.

Don’t Do Crunches
Do Try Planking

No one likes doing crunches, but everyone who has ever wanted abs has done them, in the hopes of seeing those chiseled stomach muscles. But here’s something I bet you didn’t know, crunches aren’t only painful, they’re also far less effective than other less painful ab workouts. Instead of breaking your back over an exercise that doesn’t even work, why not hold your body in a plank position for as long as you can. This is literally an entire body workout, that will have you seeing abs long before your friends who are still dedicated to the crunch. A full body workout is always a great way to work smarter not harder. Bonus points if you can hold the plank position for sixty seconds or more, at a time.

Don’t Bother With Machines
Do Grab Some Free Weights

Weight machines are great and certainly have their time and place, but free weights just don’t get the recognition that they deserve. Not only are they far less sweaty than the machines at your local gym (and cheaper if you’d like to buy your own set for home), but they also allow for more versatility in your workout. Free weights allow for free range of motion in your joints which can create a safer and more effective workout. Just make sure that you know how to use the free weights properly, and make sure that you are constantly checking your form for correctness. Don’t feel shy about asking for help. Asking questions is always better than attaining injuries.

Don’t Do Leg Presses
Do Squats

When you think about it, how much sense does sitting to get a leg workout really make to you? You might be able to isolate a few muscles in your legs during a leg press, allowing you to push more weight, and creating the illusion of stronger legs but we promise squats are better, and allow you to work smarter not harder during your workouts. When performing squats more muscles in your body have to work together to complete the task, which strengthens all of your leg muscles, your back muscles, your core muscles, and even your glutes. So get off of your butt and make it work! If you’re already putting in the time at the gym and you’re already doing the work on your legs, why not switch up your routine and get better results from your workouts?

Don’t Exercise Alone
Do Find A Workout Partner

When you exercise alone, and without a support system it is much easier to talk yourself out of another rep, or even an entire workout. Find someone who shares your enthusiasm to get fit and be a healthier version of yourself and you will be more likely to stick to your routine, even on days when you aren’t really feeling up to it. After all, when you have a workout partner, you aren’t just out there for yourself and your own health, you’re out there fighting for the health of your friend. And if that doesn’t keep you motivated then at least you can count on your partner to ramp up your enthusiasm and dedication when you’re ready to throw in the towel.

Don’t Run On A Flat Surface
Do Increase Your Incline

Running on a flat surface can happen outdoors at a track or indoors on a treadmill, and in both cases it doesn’t provide the increased intensity that kicks a relaxed run into overdrive to create real results. If you’re dedicated to running outside, then pick a few safe and natural routes around your town to run that include inclines. If you prefer running on the treadmill, or you live in an area that does not accommodate outdoor running, just manually increase the incline on the treadmill or set it to interval running, so that it will automatically increase and decrease the incline throughout the workout. This will give your muscles and your cardiovascular system a more comprehensive workout than running on flat ground.

Don’t Stick To The Elliptical
Do Try Out A Fitness Class

Ladies (and men) love the elliptical, because it allows you to get a great cardiovascular workout in, without added pressure on your joints. The problem with the elliptical (and every other machine in the gym) is that after a while your workouts can become stale and boring both to your body and your mind. You might find that your progress is plateauing if you don’t switch up your routine, or you might realize that what used to be your favorite part of the day, is now just a boring repetition of yesterday's tired workout. When this happens (or even before it happens), add in a fitness class like spinning, or zumba to keep your blood pumping and your muscles working in a new and exciting way.

Don’t Do Anymore Bicep Curls
Do Incorporate More Pull-Ups

Bicep curls workout your biceps. Other muscles facilitate in this motion and therefore see a little bit of action and improvement, but for the most part the attention is set on the biceps. If your time in the gym is limited for any reason then work smarter not harder and stop focusing an extended amount of that time on a single area of your body. Instead of performing three or four different isolated exercises, incorporate more pull-ups into your workout. Pull-ups are not only impressive, but they’re also effective at strengthening multiple muscles at once, while encouraging muscular synergy. For a workout that provides results in less time, go with pull-ups, or other exercises that incorporate multiple muscle groups.

Don’t Stop Moving Because You Can’t Run Anymore
Do Keep Walking

Whether you’re running outside on the road or a trail, or inside on a treadmill don’t stop your workout early just because you can’t keep running any longer. This is one of the biggest mistakes made by those new to running. It is not just about how hard you push yourself for the ten minutes you are running, it is also about the total amount of time that you spend on the workout. If you push yourself to your limit in the first ten minutes and feel like you have to stop, just slow down to a brisk walk instead. This way your body still gets a workout, and your muscles stay warm so that when you are ready to resume your run you can just increase your speed again, without having to start your workout all over again.

Don’t Guess
Do Get A Personal Trainer

Would you perform your own surgeries without going to school for it? Would you ship off to a foreign country to fight in a war without any prior combat training? Of course not, because you could seriously hurt yourself, or even cause irreversible damage to your body. So why would you try to guess and check your way through your workout when you can hire someone to show you the proper way to do each and every workout, and customize a workout routine to help you work smarter not harder to reach your specific health and fitness goals based on your body type and activity level? Personal trainers have gone to school and had specialized training in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology, that qualify them to help you stay safe while working out. Break open the piggy bank and hire a professional, for results that you never thought possible.

Don’t Make Yourself Do Things You Hate
Do The Exercises That Are Fun For YOU!

Are you more inclined to wake up early with energy and enthusiasm, if you’re looking forward to what the day has in store for you, or if you’re apathetic or even despondent about your plans? Of course, most people would answer that they’d be more enthusiastic about an exciting day full of plans doing things that they love. The same rules apply to working out. If your workout feels like a strenuous and tedious interruption to your life, the likelihood that you continue it on a daily basis is slim to none. If on the other hand, you thoroughly enjoy your active routine you will look at your workouts as a special part of your day that you look forward to. Choose activities that are interesting and fun to YOU, not just popular gym choices. The best way to lose weight or gain muscle mass is to actually put in the work. You can have the greatest workout routine planned for weight loss or muscle mass gain, but if you don’t like it, and you don’t do it, you aren’t going to see any results.


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Author's Bio: 

Lexi Cahill is a Penn State University graduate with a degree in Mass Communications & Media Studies. She is a humanitarian who is enthusiastic about giving back to her local and global community through both monetary donations and community service. She has sponsored a child from Ethiopia through Compassion and volunteered locally at both the Lititz Community Recreational Center (where she was a summer camp counselor for children), and the Lititz Moravian Manor (where she provided companionship to the Alzheimer's patients). Her dedication to helping improve the lives of others is what drives her. She has turned her passions for writing and humanity into a career with Isolator Fitness where she shares her knowledge of nutrition, fitness, and general health through articles published on their website. All of Lexi’s articles can also be viewed at the blog (https://isolatorfitness.com/blog/)