Fitness Articles

8 Ways to Build Maximum Muscle in Minimal Time

Double-Duty Strength Training

"Time is money," Benjamin Franklin advised a young tradesman in a 1748 essay. Although we don’t know to what extent he applied Franklin’s wisdom, most of us do understand the implications of this adage in our own lives. When it comes to health and fitness, time is critical. We all lead busy lives and therefore want to maximize our results in minimal time, freeing us to pursue other activities. You probably know how to burn the most calories when it comes to cardio; that is easy—bump up the intensity, time, incline or distance.

But what about strength training? Getting better results isn't always a matter of lifting heavier weights or performing more repetitions (which also takes longer). You don't have to pour over published research or earn a degree in exercise physiology for the sake of better, more efficient workouts. Here are eight secrets that will help you get twice as much out of your strength-training efforts.

Double-Duty Tip #1: Try compound exercises.
Just like compound words combine two words to form a new, more complex one, compound exercises join two exercises that form a more effective new one. A wall sit with lateral dumbbell raise is one example; it combines two movements (the squat and lateral raise) into a single exercise. They differ from isolation exercises (like a simple biceps curl), which involve one movement.
  • Why it works: Compound exercises train multiple muscle systems to work together rather than isolating them to work independently. Since that's how we tend to move in real life, it's a more functional way to strength train. But compound exercises can also help you get better results. They recruit more muscle fibers than isolation exercises and stimulate the release of anabolic (muscle-building) hormones such as human growth hormone, allowing you to lift heavier weights. They'll also save you time. Why do three sets of squats and three sets of overhead presses (six total sets) when you can put the two together and finish in half the time?
  • How to do it: Amplify your results in half the time by doubling up lower body exercises such as lunges and squats with upper body moves. A few examples to get you started include side lunges with a dumbbell press or dumbbell chest presses on a stability ball (to help work your core and balance) instead of a bench. Remember to start with simple movements and light weights to develop proper form and technique. You can add weight and complexity over time as your body adapts to this timesaving workout strategy. Continued ›
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About The Author

Glenn Kent Glenn Kent
Glenn is an ACE-certified personal trainer who motivates clients to perform their best, both physically and mentally. He earned his doctorate in health psychology and is the owner of Fitness Motive, a wellness consulting company located in Cincinnati. Glenn also works as an adjunct university instructor at the University of Cincinnati. He enjoys the outdoors, reading, and has developed an affinity for the taste of dark chocolate.

Member Comments

  • Enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing.:) - 2/3/2016 6:43:10 PM
    You had 100 + pounds to lose. The PO did not so can not compare it with yourself. For people who do not have a lot of weight to lose 10 pounds a month is unrealistic. Also consider that the OP wants to go from obese to skinny enough to lose 109 pounds at 5'3 ". If it were that easy everyone would do it. 109 would also be made very little lbm which is not a good idea to begin with.
    http://magrodie - 5/20/2014 11:48:49 AM
    I agree with what u said about Aaron Clarke, but I also believe you have to raise your legs in style in order to compete with flex! Seriously, Aaron was looking sick ass f ** k! Once those legs come ..... beware Flex .... I just finished watching the Open class and "WOW" what a surprise .. Uncle Cedric McMillan is always a problem nailing his conditioning, but not tonight ! Honestly, I think I should s runner behind the big bad wolf! Dennis has a little more size and conditioning a little sharper which is why he still chose. I think that even if Dennis did not nail his conditioning that will definitely Cedric! Unfortunately I know the judges will see it differently and Shawn placed as runner-up, but I personally think that Cedric should s second.
    com/ - 5/20/2014 7:44:19 AM
    Excellent tips. Even with great exercises it can still be difficult to stay thin as well. Here's a great supplement to add: http://weightloss - 3/3/2014 10:04:44 PM
  • The best tip of all was: skip the exercise machine .. holly glory ! I loved this so much . I am not losing then by skipping the boring machine exercising and attending other classes that I enjoy better . . Thanks !! - 12/29/2013 2:07:41 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 11/7/2013 5:10:29 AM
    good information .......very useful - 11/3/2013 3:23:58 PM
  • This article gave me a lot of things to think about!! Brilliant! - 10/30/2013 12:35:39 PM
  • I love this article, and Sparks for helping me be smarter about my health. - 7/11/2013 12:33:43 PM
  • Love Article. Thanks Suntoot I saved it. - 5/14/2013 10:26:55 AM
  • Love this article. To answer your question on how to save it. Look on the left right by the article you will see the save button along with other ones. I saved it myself. - 1/31/2013 10:59:50 AM
  • How can I add this to my "favorites" folder? I really like this article and it should help me start strength training. - 10/5/2012 9:39:17 PM
  • A couple days ago I read a Sparks Article on 8 Exercises Never to Do. It mentioned using the leg press machine, and specifically letting the knees come towards the body more than 90 degrees, explaining that this type of exercise is apt to put too much stress on the knee area and ruin your knees.

    So I was surprised to see the photo that illustrates this article shows a man doing what we were told not to do! - 10/5/2012 8:16:24 AM
    Do you have a demo video to watch? - 10/5/2012 8:07:35 AM
  • Excellent advice! - 10/5/2012 7:14:46 AM

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