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Are You Wasting Your Time in the Gym?

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Think about the two to three hours a week you go to the gym. Now ask yourself why you go. No silly answers like "to get in shape." The truth is most people go to the gym because they want to change their appearance and/or potentially extend their lifespan. Maybe they just want to function better in day-to-day life. Now ask yourself a harder question: Do my actions match my goals? Probably not.

If you're not getting the results you want, then change what you're doing. Here are six ways to get more out of your time in the gym.

1. If you want to change your appearance, change your diet.

Any expert will tell you that weight loss is at least 80% diet. So if you want appearance change, you need dietary change. You don't need to be in a gym to eat less.

2. Stop trying to burn fat with crunches.

Exercise only strengthens what is below the fat. I can't believe that there are still people who think that walking on a treadmill and doing some sit-ups is going to help them lose their gut. Score another one for diet.

3. Start training your lower body.

Unless you are a handstand walker in a circus, you are probably spending too much time in the gym on your upper body. Think about doing a 180. Think about basic lower body and upper back exercises. Yes, the stuff no one ever does.

4. Get off the machines.

Now think about another 180. When you think lower body, think no machines. No leg press, no leg extension, no leg curl, no calf raise. That is 1970's bodybuilding stuff. I'll let you in on another secret. More than 15 years ago, I moved all those machines out of my weight room. I have never missed them.

5. Go faster.

Next, look at your "cardio." How long have you been doing the same foolish stuff? I hate to say it, but steady-state aerobic work (long slow walks or runs) are useless after the first few weeks. Intervals are where it's at.

6. Go higher.

I'm not a big fan of the elliptical machines. You want to know why? It's the 180 thing again. Everyone I know who is overweight and goes to the gym raves to me about the elliptical machine. Want a workout? Try the StepMill. Yes, the torturous machine that is like climbing real stairs. I know what you are going to say. "But it's hard." Exactly, you proved my point.

Michael Boyle is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of performance enhancement and the owner of StrengthCoach.com. He is also the author of Functional Training for Sports.

Tags: Focus, Goals, Training, Planning