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Mash-up your workout

When you first start going to a gym, the trainers usually try to ease you into a light regimen.

     Print Edition: October 7, 2007

When you first start going to a gym, the trainers usually try to ease you into a light regimen. Typically, they’ll make you do some low-impact cardiovascular exercise, like walking briskly on the treadmill, then perhaps a short stint on the stationary bike, followed by some low-resistance freehand stretching. That drill usually continues for a few days before they urge you to go a notch or two higher with your cardio training and add a bit of light weight training to your schedule.

And when you’re used to that, you get to do circuits—a series of exercises, usually done with the aid of machines—targeted at different groups of your body’s muscles. A few weeks later, you get to do ‘real’ weight training, when the trainer draws up a schedule: chest and triceps, say, on Mondays; back and biceps on Tuesdays; a day’s rest, followed by legs on Thursdays and shoulders on Fridays. That’s pretty much what an intermediate to advanced level weight training schedule looks like. You throw in a session or two of abs, calves and forearm workouts every week and you’re all set.

I know many, many seasoned gym-goers who follow a workout that is practically like the one described above and they do so diligently for weeks, months or even years on end. And many of them complain that they aren’t getting any stronger or leaner or more ripped.

If that’s been your story too, then it’s time to do some mash-ups. Junk the chest-triceps or back-biceps routine that every weight-trainer does. Focus on both your upper and lower body every day and go for big basic exercises like squats, bench presses, pull-ups, shoulder presses, etc. Here’s one combination that could work well.

You’ll notice that it focusses on the bigger basic muscle groups and involves what I like to call ‘building-block’ exercises—like pull-ups or chin-ups, squats, bench presses and lunges. Take four combinations: 1. Pull-ups and Squats; 2. Bench Presses and Lunges; 3. Dumb-bell Flyes and Leg Curls; 4. Dumb-bell Bent-over Rows and Leg Extension. You’ll see that each combination has two parts—one exercise targeting the upper body (chest or back) and the other the lower body (thighs).

In addition, the exercises have to be done in supersets, for example, one set (comprising 10-12 repetitions) of pull-ups, followed by one set of squats without resting in between. That makes one superset. Do two to three supersets of each combination. That’s the schedule for one day. Likewise, for other days, you could combine exercises for biceps, triceps and shoulders. Or, perhaps even calves, shoulders and abs.

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Caveat: The physical exercises described in Treadmill are not recommendations. Readers should exercise caution and consult a physician before attempting to follow any of these.

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