There’s no point spending hours on the treadmill if you’re not seeing the results. While we’ve been led to believe that plugging endlessly at cardio is the path to getting to peak fitness – it’s not really the case.
To make sure that you’re optimising the time you put in, we spoke to Paris-born, London-based personal trainer Amelie Kheilaf, for her expert gym hacks.
Whether you’ve reached a workout plateau or want to see results faster, she’s got you covered with these six switch-ups.
Use free weights
“For strength training, stay away for weight machines at the gym and only use free weights,” Amelie says. “Free weights engage way more muscles than your average gym machine.”
With these weights, you’ll use more muscles and work them harder. In terms of maximising your time and return on your investment, Amelie recommends incorporating dumbbells into your moves. Try lunges with one in each hand, doing 20 reps on one leg and 20 reps on the other.
Try combination moves
“The way I work out with my clients never works just one muscle group,” says Amelie. Instead, it’s all about combining moves to ensure a time efficient and thorough workout.
“If you squat, on the way up do a shoulder press – this works your core as well as working arms and glutes at the same time.”
Here’s some other ideas for mixing it up:
Split squat and shoulder press
Start with a reversed split squat (begin with a staggered stance, one leg lowered with your knee bent towards the floor behind you, the other leg facing forward, before descending down and coming back up again) and combine with a a narrow grip overhead press (holding a barbell.)
“This engages every muscle in the body, including the arms, back, core and glutes.” Amelie explains. “The key is to really tighten up that stomach and get your posture and positioning right, before adding speed.”
This is where your feet are wider apart than a normal squat. Think ‘figure two’ in ballet, and squat down to work the inside of thighs and just underneath the bum cheek.
Squat and bicep curl
Combine your elevated squats with a bicep curl, for a full body burn (see Amelie doing the move here.)
Do super sets
This is when you follow one exercise with a minimal rest, before moving on to another exercise. To try it, Amelie says: “always start with your lower body, as that will increase your heart rate, then move on to the arms – so, triceps and biceps.”
Take a 60 second break when you need it, then go again. “You will cram in so much in 45 minutes, and fully maximise your gym time.”
Turbocharge the treadmill
“When running, you also use your arms and your obliques, providing a workout for your core muscles,” Amelie says. “But you can boost the workout further by ramping the incline up, to really work the legs.”
Leave your phone at home
Don’t be tempted to bring your devices to the gym. Recent studies show that your mobile phone can tempt you away from exercise, with “high frequency users were more likely than low frequency users to report forgoing opportunities for physical activity in order to use their cell phones for sedentary behaviors.”
“It’s a massive distraction. You’re guaranteed to add at least ten minutes to your workout from looking at it,” says Amelie.
Minimise your breaks
“If you need a break while you’re working out, take one of only 30-60 seconds. The most important advice to remember is just to keep going,” Amelie says.