These 11 Small Training Hacks Will Compound over Time, Leading to More Muscle Mass, More Calories Burned in Less Time

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Julien Raby

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Ever imagined turning a leisurely walk into a calorie-crushing activity? Or why swimming might just be the secret weapon in your fitness arsenal?

This guide isn’t just about exercise; it’s about using training hacks to get more bang for your limited time.

training hacks
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Are you ready to challenge the ordinary and transform your body in ways you never thought possible? Read on.

11 Best Training Hacks

1- Do Compound Movements

Compound Movements
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Compound movements involve exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at the same time. Unlike isolation exercises that target only one muscle group, compound movements work several muscles simultaneously.

Examples include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and pull-ups. These exercises can be integrated into high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or supersets to increase intensity and effectiveness.

Benefits

The key benefits of compound movements include increased calorie burn, improved coordination and balance, enhanced muscle growth and strength, and more efficient workouts.

By working multiple muscles at once, you’re getting a more comprehensive workout, leading to better fitness results in less time. For example, squats not only work the legs but also engage the core, back, and glutes.

Scientific Validation:

A study by Brigatto, Felipe A et al. found that resistance training programs involving multi-joint exercises were more efficient for improving muscle strength and maximal oxygen consumption compared to programs involving single-joint exercises.

There was a trend for greater fat loss and fat-free mass gains in the multi-joint group. This suggests that compound exercises may be more effective for overall fitness and body composition improvements.

2- Do HIIT Workouts

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a form of exercise that involves short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. It’s a highly efficient way to burn fat, as it can keep burning fat well after the workout is over.

HIIT workouts are also enjoyable and can be done in a variety of settings, including with others.

Benefits

The benefits of HIIT include rapid and significant fat burning, both during and after workouts, and improved overall metabolic health.

Additionally, it’s time-efficient, making it an excellent option for those with busy schedules. HIIT workouts can be adapted to various fitness levels and don’t require extensive equipment, making them accessible to a wide range of people.

Scientific Validation

A systematic review and meta-analysis found that HIIT is effective in improving fat oxidation during exercise, especially for individuals with overweight or obesity.

The study, published by Maillard, Florie et al., analyzed 18 controlled intervention trials and found that HIIT enhances fat metabolism not only during the sessions but also during other physical activities like walking or swimming.

This increased fat metabolism becomes evident after just four weeks of HIIT and continues to improve over time. For overweight individuals, the fat-burning benefits of HIIT are even greater compared to those of normal weight​​​​​​.

3- Join a Group Class

Here’s the thing about group fitness classes: they’re not just about sweating your ass off. It’s about the people. It’s where you make pals. It’s where I met my girlfriend

You show up not just for the workout, but because you don’t want to let your crew down. They get you pumped, they keep you coming back, and they make the whole thing a damn good time.

So find your tribe, join a class, and turn that workout into a party. You’ll be surprised how much you can achieve when you’re all in it together.

Julien Raby

Group fitness classes, such as CrossFit, cross-training, and bootcamp workouts, offer a unique and engaging way to exercise. These classes create a community atmosphere where participants motivate each other, leading to a more enjoyable and consistent workout experience.

The social aspect of group classes can be a strong motivator, making you look forward to workouts and fostering a sense of accountability among members.

Benefits

Group classes offer several advantages, including increased motivation, a sense of camaraderie, and a structured workout environment. Participants often push themselves harder in a group setting and enjoy the workouts more because of the supportive atmosphere.

Additionally, the variety of exercises and the guidance of a certified instructor help ensure a balanced and effective workout.

Scientific Validation

A study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that participating in group exercise classes can significantly reduce stress and improve quality of life.

The study revealed that group exercise participants experienced a 26% reduction in stress and improvements in mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

This research highlights the unique benefits of group workouts compared to exercising alone, emphasizing the positive impact of the social and communal aspects of group fitness​​​​.

4- Combine Strength and Cardio

It’s not all be about huffing and puffing on the treadmill. Throw in some strength training, lift some weights. It’s like turning your body into a calorie-burning powerhouse.

Cardio is great, but when you add strength training to the mix, you’re basically telling your body, “Hey, let’s burn calories even when we’re doing nothing“. So, build those muscles, get a bigger furnace to burn more calories.

Julien Raby

Combining strength training with cardiovascular exercise can lead to improved overall fitness and better management of body weight.

While many assume cardio alone is the key to burning fat, muscle building—achieved through strength training—increases your body’s metabolic rate, making it an efficient method for burning calories.

Benefits

The primary benefit of combining strength and cardio is a more holistic approach to fitness. Strength training helps in muscle building and increases metabolic rate, while cardio improves cardiovascular health and aids in fat loss.

This combination ensures that you’re not only losing weight but also gaining muscle, leading to a more toned and fit body.

Scientific Validation

Combined training (aerobic and resistance) offers comprehensive cardiovascular disease benefits, including reductions in blood pressure and increases in cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength, more effectively than aerobic or resistance training alone (Schroeder et al., 2019).

5- Do Strength Training to Build Muscle Mass

Want to rev up your calorie-burning engine? Hit the weights. Building muscle is like upgrading your body to a high-performance sports car – it’s sleek, efficient, and it makes you look good. And no, you’re not going to turn into the Hulk overnight…

Julien Raby

Strength training is essential for building muscle mass, which in turn increases your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This means that with more muscle mass, your body burns more calories at rest, allowing for a higher caloric intake without gaining unwanted weight.

Building muscle also contributes to a better overall physique and improved strength.

Benefits

The benefits of strength training extend beyond just a more muscular appearance. Increased muscle mass improves metabolic health, reduces the risk of injury, and enhances overall physical performance.

It also supports better posture and bone health. Moreover, strength training can lead to improvements in mental health, such as increased self-esteem and reduced anxiety.

Scientific Validation

Increased muscle mass is associated with a higher basal metabolic rate (BMR), meaning more calories are burned at rest. This is because muscle tissue is metabolically more active than fat tissue (Cadegiani & Kater, 2018).

6- Limit Isolation Exercises

Limit Isolation Exercises
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When you’re hitting the gym, you want to make every minute count. Forget about those tiny, isolated moves – it’s like using a toothpick when you need a sledgehammer.

Compound exercises are where it’s at. They’re like multitasking for your muscles, working out your entire body and getting you stronger, faster. And hey, who’s got time to work each muscle separately?

Powerlifters and Crossfitters don’t mess around with that stuff, and neither should you.

Julien Raby

Limiting isolation exercises, which target a single muscle group, can be beneficial, especially for beginners or those looking to maximize efficiency in their workouts. 

Compound exercises, which work multiple muscle groups simultaneously, are often more effective for overall strength, muscle development and calorie burn.

Benefits

Focusing on compound exercises rather than isolation movements provides numerous benefits. It enhances overall muscle coordination and balance, leads to greater strength gains, and burns more calories.

For beginners and those short on time, compound exercises offer a more effective way to work out, as they target multiple muscle groups in a single session.

Scientific Validation

A comparison of integrated (compound) and isolated training programs on various performance measures and neuromuscular control found that an integrated approach to exercise selection optimizes performance and movement technique benefits. This supports the notion that compound exercises may offer more comprehensive adaptations compared to isolated exercises (DiStefano et al., 2013).

7- Workout with Someone

Working out with someone is a game-changer. It’s like having your own cheerleader and coach rolled into one. Whether it’s a friend or your partner, having someone to sweat with turns the whole thing into a fun challenge.

You push each other, you laugh, you groan, but most importantly, you keep showing up. It’s half the effort but double the reward.

Julien Raby

Training with a partner or in a group can significantly enhance your workout experience. It introduces elements of motivation, safety, enjoyment, and accountability.

Benefits

Working out with a partner or group can increase motivation, provide a safety net for exercises like heavy lifting, and make the workout session more enjoyable.

It also fosters a sense of camaraderie and can lead to greater adherence to fitness routines.

Scientific Validation

The study by Feltz et al. (2020) investigated if working out with a partner enhances exercise effort. Middle-aged adults trained on a cycle ergometer for 24 weeks, with some having no partner and others paired with a consistently superior or varying partner.

Results showed those with a consistently superior partner exerted more effort in both continuous and high-intensity interval training, especially during the most challenging intervals.

This indicates that a partner, particularly a consistently stronger one, can significantly increase workout effort during demanding exercises.

8- Use a Ruck

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A cool twist on walking is ‘rucking.’ Simply put on a backpack, load it with weights, and voilà, you’re rucking. It’s low-key enough for anyone to begin, and it burns 2 to 3 times more calories than regular walking.

Julien Raby

Rucking involves walking or hiking while carrying a weighted backpack. It’s an effective way to enhance strength, cardiovascular capacity, and calorie burn.

Rucking is also low-impact, making it suitable for Zone 2 training, which is a moderate-intensity exercise level.

Benefits

Rucking offers numerous benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased caloric burn, and enhanced bone strength.

It’s also accessible to a wide range of fitness levels and can be integrated into daily activities like dog walking or taking calls outside.

Furthermore, rucking promotes better posture, preventing back pain, and can be a social activity when done in groups.

Scientific Validation

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a 10-week rucking program significantly improved VO2 max, an indicator of cardiovascular fitness.

Additionally, rucking burns more calories compared to regular walking and is beneficial for bone density. It’s considered a weight-bearing exercise, which is crucial for bone health.

The added weight from rucking also strengthens various muscles throughout the body, making it a comprehensive workout​​.

9- Do a Hike

Hiking gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving, all while you’re soaking up that sweet nature vibe. And it’s good for your brain too, kicking stress and anxiety to the curb.

Julien Raby

Hiking is an excellent low-impact exercise that offers a range of health benefits.

It’s an enjoyable and easy way to burn calories, and incorporating a ruck or increasing your pace can enhance these benefits.

Benefits

The key benefits of hiking include cardiovascular health, weight management, mental well-being, and improved muscle and bone strength.

It’s also an accessible activity for people of varying fitness levels and can be particularly beneficial for those with joint issues, as it is a low-impact exercise.

Scientific Validation

Hiking has been shown to lower blood pressure, combat diabetes, tackle obesity, and reduce anxiety and depression.

It improves sleep and helps build strong muscles and bones, which is particularly important as we age. Hiking also aids in improving arthritis symptoms and balance by navigating uneven terrain. These benefits are due to the physical exertion of hiking and the positive effects of being in nature (Source)​​.

10- Go Swim

Remember Michael Phelps? The dude was munching down 8k-10k calories a day! That tells you something about the burn you get from swimming. It’s not just a splash in the pool; it’s a full-body blast that’s easy on the joints and great for your lungs.

Julien Raby

Swimming is an incredibly effective full-body workout that offers numerous health benefits.

It’s known for its high caloric burn and low-impact nature, making it suitable for people of all fitness levels. Swimming improves cardiovascular health, strength, and breathing technique.

Benefits

The benefits of swimming include improved cardiovascular health, significant calorie burning, muscle toning, and enhanced breathing techniques.

It’s also excellent for people looking for a low-impact exercise option. Swimming is particularly beneficial for those with joint issues or those who are recovering from injuries.

Scientific Validation

The combination of full-body workout, water resistance, energy required for temperature regulation, and high volume of training contributes to the high caloric burn associated with swimming.

Swimming engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, requiring more energy expenditure compared to exercises that target specific areas. This comprehensive muscle engagement increases overall caloric burn (Trappe et al., 1997).

Also, it often involves maintaining body heat in water, which can be cooler than body temperature. The body expends additional energy to maintain its core temperature, further increasing caloric burn (Acevedo et al., 1997).

11- Learn Progressive Overload

Progressive Overload
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Progressive overload is a fundamental concept in strength training and physical fitness. It involves gradually increasing the intensity, volume, or complexity of your workouts over time to stimulate muscle growth, strength gains, and overall fitness improvement.

This can be achieved by increasing the weight lifted, the number of repetitions or sets, or the exercise’s difficulty.

Benefits

The benefits of progressive overload include enhanced muscle growth, improved strength, better endurance, and a reduced risk of hitting a fitness plateau.

This method ensures that your body continues to adapt and improve over time.

It’s also an effective way to prevent overtraining and injuries, as it encourages a gradual and controlled increase in exercise intensity.

Scientific Validation

A study highlights that as fitness improves, training variables like frequency, intensity, and volume must increase to induce further adaptation. This principle ensures that muscles are continually challenged to adapt to higher levels of stress, leading to improvements in muscle size and strength (Dankel et al., 2017).

Also, in endurance training, progressive overload is important for maximizing adaptations such as improved oxygen uptake and lactate threshold. Incremental increases in exercise intensity can lead to greater improvements in endurance performance measures compared to constant intensity training (McNicol et al., 2009).

References

  • Brigatto, Felipe A et al. “Multi-joint vs. Single-joint Resistance Exercises Induce a Similar Strength Increase in Trained Men: A Randomized Longitudinal Crossover Study.” International journal of exercise science vol. 13,4 1677-1690. 1 Dec. 2020
  • Maillard, Florie et al. “Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass: A Meta-Analysis.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 48,2 (2018): 269-288. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0807-y
  • https://osteopathic.org/2017/10/30/10-30-researchers-find-group-exercise-improves-quality-of-life-and-reduces-stress-far-more-than-individual-exercise/
  • Schroeder EC, Franke WD, Sharp RL, Lee D-c (2019) Comparative effectiveness of aerobic, resistance, and combined training on cardiovascular disease risk factors: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0210292. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0210292
  • Flavio A. Cadegiani, Claudio E. Kater & Matheus Gazola. (2019) Clinical and biochemical characteristics of high-intensity functional training (HIFT) and overtraining syndrome: findings from the EROS study (The EROS-HIFT). Journal of Sports Sciences 37:11, pages 1296-1307.
  • DiStefano, Lindsay J.1; DiStefano, Michael J.2; Frank, Barnett S.3; Clark, Micheal A.4; Padua, Darin A.3. Comparison of Integrated and Isolated Training on Performance Measures and Neuromuscular Control. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27(4):p 1083-1090, April 2013. | DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318280d40b
  • Feltz, Deborah L.1; Hill, Christopher R.2; Samendinger, Stephen3; Myers, Nicholas D.1; Pivarnik, James M.1; Winn, Brian4; Ede, Alison5; Ploutz-Snyder, Lori6. Can Simulated Partners Boost Workout Effort in Long-Term Exercise?. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 34(9):p 2434-2442, September 2020. | DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003732
  • Wills, Jodie A et al. “Load-Carriage Conditioning Elicits Task-Specific Physical and Psychophysical Improvements in Males.” Journal of strength and conditioning research vol. 33,9 (2019): 2338-2343. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000003243
  • TRAPPE, TODD A.; GASTALDELLI, AMALIA; JOZSI, ALISON C.; TROUP, JOHN P.; WOLFE, ROBERT R.. Energy expenditure of swimmers during high volume training. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 29(7):p 950-954, July 1997.

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About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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