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Are your weight training workouts inefficient and bloated? Are you buried in the minutiae, spending far too much time on things that don’t matter?

To get an effective, efficient workout for muscular fitness and improved physique, you need to heed the words of Bruce Lee: “It’s not the daily increase, but the daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

Here’s what you need to ELIMINATE from your workouts:

  1. Social Media and Email

Sadly, I need to say this, but the number of people I see perusing social media while they exercise is shocking. Training is supposed to be a release from stress. It’s supposed to be a way to not only improve your body but to improve your ability to defer gratification and improve focus. When you’re supposed to train, train. You can’t blame any program if you don’t focus when training.

  1. Training For More Than An Hour

Unless you’re preparing to step on the bodybuilding stage, powerlifting platform, or strap for the NFL combine… you don’t need more than 45-55 minutes to train. As the late legendary strength coach Charles Poliquin said: “If you’re in the gym for more than an hour you’re socializing, not training.”

Heck, research has shown that testosterone levels drop and the stress hormone cortisol increases when you train for longer than an hour. Get in. Focus. Get out. You don’t need more than 45-55 minutes a few days per week.

  1. Excessive Isolation Work

The best exercises years popularized by old-time strongmen and bodybuilders from Bill Starr to Arnold Schwarzennegger are still the best today. I’m talking about big, multi-joint movements like squats, deadlifts, rows, bench presses, lunges, and chin-ups. These exercises are the best because they train the greatest amount of muscle mass on your body, creating the largest muscle building, fat burning training response possible.

For instance, the following five exercises would create one heck of a workout:

  • One arm overhead dumbbell press
  • Chin-up
  • DB Incline bench press
  • One-arm dumbbell row
  • Incline dumbbell biceps curl

Doing this program, you hit your biceps (multiple times) triceps (multiple times), chest, lats, traps, rhomboids, shoulders (multiple times), forearms, and serratus anterior muscle, not to mention your core musculature.

Better yet, you’ll lift more weight, activate more total muscle fibers, and build real-world strength from head to toe.

  1.   Junk Volume

Junk volume is the endless addition of high-rep, light load training that bloats most training programs.

When your training is too light OR you’re not completely focused on maximizing every inch of every rep, you won’t challenge your muscles to adapt. This makes it more or less meaningless because you’re not creating the tension to trigger an actual training response from your muscles.

Remember: your joints only have so many reps in them. Excessive junk volume wastes your time and accelerates the clock on your joints wearing down.

5. Muscular Fitness Training Fads

It’s easy to get drawn into popular new methods of training. They add a jolt of motivation and novelty to what you’re doing. But don’t trade novelty for progress.

The main course of your training should be what’s stood the test of time for building a strong, muscular, and lean physique: free weights. Barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and bodyweight training should make up the majority of your program.

Transforming your body comes down to a few basic things. One is progressive overload done this way: Do high-performance workouts about four times per week for around 49.5 minutes per workout, not seven times per week for two hours each workout. FOCUS and maximize the quality of each rep and each set. 

When you program correctly, you don’t need 73 different exercises or fancy rep schemes. Simplify what you do and execute it flawlessly–that’s the key to lifelong gains.

By Joe Pepe, HealthEase fitness professional