Now that we are a month into 2017, many people are ready to forge ahead into a new fitness program, full speed ahead. Others who have been grinding through workouts all year long want to dive into the new year with a greater ferocity that will reap even better results. The problem is that life gets busier, more demanding, and 2017 promises to be perhaps the most challenging time so far! So how do you put heat under those workouts when your time is already so taxed? This week I’d like to share several methods guaranteed to help you get twice as much out of your program in less than half the time.

Compound exercises combine two or more exercises, allowing you to train two or more muscle groups at a time. When you think about it, this is how you move in real life, using several different muscle groups at once to perform tasks and get work done. Compound exercises make you work harder, burn more calories, recruit more muscle fibers, and stimulate the release of muscle building hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone.

How do you perform compound exercises? It’s simple, just be creative and watch your form! Double up alternating dumbbell biceps curls as you perform lunges across the gym to execute a perfect compound set for upper and lower body. Perform dumbbell military presses and side raises as you sit upon a stability ball, thereby working both shoulders and core at once. The possibilities are literally limitless!

You can do more effective training in less time with a rack of free weights than a whole room full of specialized machines. Often, machines stabilize your core doing much of the work for you as you exercise one, maybe two muscles at the most. You have to waste time standing in line for machines, and when they break down, you’re at a loss as to what to do instead. Free weights – barbells, dumbbells, kettle bells – allow you to develop power, strength and endurance as they activate more muscle fibers and force you to work harder.

So, how do you move away from machines and more toward free weights? Step away from the pec deck and sculpt your chest with dumbbell flies reclining on a flat bench or an exercise ball. Rather than performing overhead military presses at a universal machine, recruit a pair of dumbbells and perform seated or standing presses as you watch those deltoids grow bigger. Remember, for every gym machine there are at least a half dozen equivalent free weight exercises you can do instead.

Circuit training combines cardio with weight training to help you build muscle and burn fat at the same time. Moving rapidly from station to station, with little rest between exercises allows you to get more work done (both aerobic and anaerobic) in less time. Be dynamic and more innovative with every workout.

How do you circuit train? Provided you have the space and say, 35 minutes, set up your stations and move quickly. Perform 25 jumping jacks; grab 2 dumbbells for three sets of 15-20 squats; hit the mat for 75 crunches; jump on the treadmill for 5 minutes; intersperse 3 sets of barbell flat bench presses with 3 sets of push-ups; stretch for a minute; pump out 3 sets of alternating dumbbell curls and super-set with 3 sets of triceps cable push-downs. Get the picture?

Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer and massage therapist (MA#40288) with his own gym and studio,  at 1271 NE 9th Avenue in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. 33304. Contact with questions or set up a free consultation by calling (954) 557-1119.