If you feel like you are only getting so-so results from your workout program, it’s time to take a much closer and deeper look at your approach.

Are you doing absolutely everything you could be to see optimal returns from your efforts? Or are you falling short when it comes to exercise selection?

Are you going through your workout mindlessly, without really focusing on what exactly it is that you’re doing? If so, you need a change of pace.

What you do in the gym is going to directly influence the results you see – this is a no brainer.

Yet, so many people think that just getting to the gym is enough.

Let me tell you about the top five things you should be doing in the gym for optimum results.

Understanding The Why’s…

But before I get to the five movements that you should be doing in the gym, I want to talk to you about why you should be doing these exercises.

What makes them so great? What benefits do they hold?

First, whenever you’re in the gym, you want to be doing exercises that are going to best mimic every day movements. The more the exercises you do in the gym look like something you’d do in daily life, the more transfer of benefits you’ll receive.

These are known as ‘functional exercises’ because they do just that – they increase your functional ability in daily life.

These top 5 movements are also ones that will work the greatest total number of muscle fibers at once because they hit more than one muscle group in the body.

This is why they are typically referred to as ‘compound movements’.

General Rule of Thumb…

As a general rule, the more muscle fibers you work, the greater the strength gains you see and the more calories you burn.

Clearly this is what you’re after, so perform movements that use more than one muscle!

Lift as heavy as you can while keeping good form.

You can play with the rep ranges but the most muscle building stimulus will occur at the 8-12 repetition range.

This is due to the amount of time you are placing your muscles under tension.

Let me now show you the exercises…


The 5 Exercises…

Below are the five exercises that are a must-have in your workout routine. If you are not doing these right now, it’s time to start.


1) Squat

Often called the ‘king’ of exercises, the squat will work not only your entire lower body, but your core as well.

You’ll rev your metabolism and get a boost of testosterone flowing through your body, which will help to significantly increase your lean muscle mass and strength. This means you will burn more calories & increase fat burn.

Top tips:

Go as far down to the ground as you can while doing these to see optimal benefits, as full depth squatting increases recruitment of your quads (thigh muscles). The more you work them the more they grow, the more they grow the more calories you burn, the more calories you burn the more fat you are likely to burn – you get the point!


2) Bench Press

If you want a firm and strong upper body, this is the move. You’ll hit your chest, shoulders, triceps.

Top tips:

Try varying the angle of the bench – incline, flat & decline. This will recruit different areas of these muscles & stimulate progression. Also try various grip patterns – close grip, reverse grip, and wide grip to change up the stimulus and bust through plateaus.


3) Row

While the bench press hits the front of the body, the row hits the back.

This move is a great compound exercise for working your back and biceps, while also hitting the core as it acts to stabilise your body.

Top tips:

Make sure that you avoid momentum while doing this movement, as that is the number one mistake that most people make.

Use a slow and controlled movement pattern for optimal results.

Vary the exercise using dumbells, bars or cables.

Vary the speed of your movement over time. Use a slow consistent speed for each rep. 2 weeks later use a moderate pace concentric movement (shortening of the muscle), with a slightly slower eccentric phase (lengthening of the muscle).


4) Pull-Up

Pull-ups are a go-to for home workouts and will work the back in a different manner than the row. While the row hits you on a horizontal movement pattern, the pull-up works the body in a vertical movement pattern.

This move is great for increasing your back thickness and creating the illusion of a slimmer waistline as well.

Top tips:

Use an assisted machine to vary your rep range, occassionally performing up to 20 reps per set.

You can also do the opposite & weight your pullups if can perform 8 or more body weight repetitions with good form.


5) HIT Cardio

HIT stands for high intensity training and is where you will alternate brief bouts of all exercises with active rest periods in between.

While these workouts are short and sweet, they are high on results as they’ll not only improve your cardiovascular fitness level far more than those steady state sessions you were doing, but they’ll burn fat far faster.

In one study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers noted that when two groups of women, one performing high intensity intermittent exercise and another performing steady state exercise for a period of 15 weeks, the group that did the intermittent exercise lost substantially more fat overall, namely from the leg and trunk region.

So if it’s a slimmer waistline, lower body fat and firmer physique you want, this is the form of cardio to do. Plus, it takes far less time to complete, so will work best with your busy schedule.

Time To Compare...

There you have five things you must be doing in the gym. How does your current workout stack-up?

Do you need to change some things around?

Always remember, your time is limited and if you are going to spend some of those precious moments of your day in the gym, it’s a must that you are getting the absolute best results for each minute you invest.

If your current workout is not delivering that, isn’t it time you looked for a new one?