Sometimes we are lucky to carve out gym time, aren’t we?
So many of us are enterprising professionals, hardworking moms and persevering students. As much as we love training and the benefits it provides, it can often be difficult to actually make the time for it.
We get it—and we are here to tell you that you don’t need two hours in the gym, training individual body parts, to get a great workout. In addition to awesome compound lifts like barbell squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and push-ups, you can add in a “bang for your buck” exercise to make the most of your limited time in the gym.
Going to the gym with with a preoccupied mind is awful. When you’re bogged down with responsibilities, it’s difficult to get in your zone and stay focused. That’s where “bang for your buck” lifts come in handy. You can work the whole body with limited time, allowing you to focus completely on your movement instead of that pending project you have yet to complete.
Although they may seem complex, they are actually pretty straightforward, combining a few key movements that you probably already know how to do. All you have to do is put them together, and watch your body move with grace and power. Try out one of these three multi-movements lifts the next time you’re at the gym, and build strength-and a fab physique with time to spare.
Lumberjack Squat (to calf raise and press out)3>
While it may take a little practice to feel familiar with the body position in the Lumberjack squat, once you have the correct body angle, it’s a very smooth movement. We like this move because it’s powerful in the ascent. This squat movement allows for a lot of range of motion, it’s kind to the spine because it’s front-loaded, and is completely engaging from head to toe.
Coaching Cues and Notes:
- A landmine is ideal for this exercise. If you don’t have a landmine, position a barbell in a corner (ie: the corner of a squat rack) where it is safe to control.
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
- Position your body at a slight angle
- Keep your feet flat on the ground but distribute your weight more toward the balls of your feet.
- Hold the barbell at your chest with a laced grip for added grip control.
- Sit back / squat with your body weight in your heels. As you ascend up, incorporate a calf raise and press the bar out from your chest.
- For safety, do not attempt to load this exercise for max lifts as you would a traditional front or back squat. In an effort to keep things safe (so the bar does not slip out of your hands) load it appropriately for a rep range no fewer than 8 reps.
Here Alli demonstrates the movement:
The Turkish Getup (“getup” or “TGU” for short) is one of the most fantastic exercises you can perform. The full exercise entails taking a kettlebell from the ground to overhead, and back to the ground again, while moving your body through a wide range of movements that train multiple mobility and stability patterns.
Talk about bang for your buck!
Of course, it’s very important to make sure that you master the TGU using only your body first (no kettlebell to start). Once you’ve got the movements, then you can progress to balancing something on your fist to challenge yourself a bit more. Once you have good technique and feel more comfortable and confident performing the movements of the TGU, you can add an external load (i.e. weight).
Keep in mind that when you’re first introduced to the TGU, it can seem very intimidating and complex, but after you see it broken down into segments, you’ll see that it’s really just a series of very simple and precise movements. Once you get the hang of it, I guarantee you’ll absolutely love practicing this graceful exercise.
Neghar does a wonderful job of breaking down the getup in this video:
And in this video, you can see Molly channeling her inner Neghar with a 32 kg/70 lb. getup.
Single-Leg RDL to Row
The single-leg or one-leg RDL is already an awesome lift. Talk about booty-building! Add in a horizontal row, and it become a total-body exercise that challenges stability and mobility, and builds strength.
The exercise can be done with a barbell or dumbbells, but we find that using kettlebells—either offset load or double—is the most comfortable way to load the lift.
Coaching cues and notes:
- Start with a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells at your side and descend into a one-leg deadlift.
- Keep your standing knee soft and your back leg totally straight and engaged, aiming that heel toward the wall behind you.
- Make sure you hinge at the hip and don’t just bending over at the waist. You should feel the load in your glute on the standing leg.
- Once your torso is parallel to the ground, turn your palms in towards each other and pull the weights up into a row as you squeeze your shoulder blades together.
- Be sure not to shrug your shoulders up towards your ears.
- Bring the weights back down, keeping your shoulders packed and engaged, don’t let them drop down.
- Stand upright and repeat, switching legs.
Here is Molly, demonstrating the exercise:
We’d love to hear about your experience with these exercises or your favorite “bang for your buck” exercise.
Let us know in the comments below!