Enter the gym. Turn and look right: See people sitting on machines, necks craned down scrolling through Hornet and Instagram. Look left: A gaggle of gays surround an unused weight bench laughing about their weekend. Heart rates are dropping at every turn.
These men mean well. They slam caffeine, prepared to destroy the gym like Henry Cavill in Man of Steel, but they end up barely breaking a sweat. They wonder why they can’t see their abs and why their arms won’t grow. It’s quite simple — they aren’t moving fast enough.
Having your heart rate elevated during exercise is critical for results. You burn more calories and fat, making you look leaner and more defined. Even if that’s not your goal, heart rate-based training can also increase your stamina, mobility and strength. True breakthroughs often come when you can feel your heart beating, sweat dripping and you’re practically panting.
As a holistic-based trainer, I don’t get hung up on numbers, so I won’t tell you what your heart rate should be. Instead, I’ll give you a format of training and some solid guidelines that’ll take you there. Attention: For those who are saying “I know this already,” please read on to see if your knowledge and timing are up to par.
Classic heart rate-based lifting is called “circuit training.” This type of workout is composed of two to six different circuits, each one containing two or more exercises. Each time you complete a round of exercises is called “a set.” These sets consist of dumbbells, body weight, some machines, plyometrics (jumping exercises) and more. My programs consist of three circuits, three exercises per circuit, two to three sets each. Almost every workout covers the entire body.
The Set Up:
Get everything you need for your circuit and create a cluster. For example, if I know I’m using dumbbells, a mat and a BOSU balance training ball for my circuit, I’ll grab them and put them near each other. This way, I can quickly move from one exercise to the next without my heart rate dropping. Sometimes it’s not entirely possible, so do the best you can.
Between Exercises: Quickly move on to the next one. You should allow yourself no more then 15 seconds. Usually it’s the approximate amount of time it takes to catch your breath and get into position for the next exercise.
Between Sets: After the set is complete, take a maximum rest of no more than one minute and 30 seconds and then resume the next set.
Between Circuits: Allow yourself a maximum rest of three minutes and begin your next circuit. Most circuit tear down and set up takes about that amount of time. So it’s best to just plan on getting straight to it.
Carry this tempo for your entire workout and watch your body change.
Tools and Tips:
While workout buddies are fun, they can often slow you down. Instead, try and partner up with your timer. Most smartphones have a clock. Time each break to keep you on track. Tabata is a great app for timing. Plus, it makes the fiercest sound when you start.
Also, gym conversations can put you into heart rate hell. It’s good to be social, but aim to keep your chats brief. You don’t need to be a jerk about it either. A good end cue is to just pick up your weights and start. Or you could just tell them that you read this article and you’re just trying to keep your heart rate up.
Adjusting your training this way can transform your body like you could’ve never imagined. If you just can’t commit to moving this quick, consider hiring a trainer to keep you moving.
The most important part of this type of training goes beyond looking good. It’s about living longer. Circuit training strengthens your heart, which is the most vital organ in your body. So go ahead and put your heart out there. You may fall in love with working out all over again.