Reaching your fitness goals and getting the body of your dreams is rarely a quick process -- it takes dedication, hard work and consistency. You can speed up your results by focusing on exercises that give you the most bang for your buck. These exercises are tough, burn more calories and work you harder, so you'll see faster results with them than you would by taking the easy route and choosing lighter, low-intensity exercises.
When strength training, you should focus on compound movements, advises strength coach Rachel Cosgrove of Results Fitness in California. Compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups and joints and therefore burn more calories and increase your strength levels quicker than single-joint exercises. Effective compound moves include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows, pulldowns and lunges, as opposed to isolations such as biceps curls, calf raises, lateral raises and leg extensions.
Rather than sticking with your traditional steady 30-minute cardio sessions on the elliptical or treadmill, switch to high-intensity interval training. HIIT-style cardio training burns more fat and calories in less time than regular moderate-intensity cardio, writes trainer Charlotte Andersen in Shape magazine. You can use any piece of cardio equipment for your interval training, or go outdoors and run, swim or cycle. Warm up for five minutes, then go as hard as possible for 30 seconds. Return to a steady speed for 90 to 120 seconds and repeat for 20 to 30 minutes.
Body-weight moves are often highly underrated, yet they can provide fast results. Try a body-weight circuit, consisting of five or six exercises that hit your whole body, such as lunges, jump squats, burpees, pushups and sprints. While many consider body-weight training to be a cop out, you can make your body-weight workouts seriously tough. Rather than sticking to basic exercises, take things a step further. If regular pushups are too easy, try them with your hands on medicine balls. Or if you don't find lunges challenging any more, switch to jump lunges instead. Even if you have access to a well-equipped gym, body-weight moves can still play a role in your program.
Getting quick results isn't just about the exercises you perform -- it's also about how hard you work. A pushup burpee can be extremely challenging, yet if you only perform two or three of them, you won't get a great workout. Likewise, a squat may be easy, but 100 body-weight squats or a set of 10 with 115 lbs will be much tougher. Make sure your diet aligns with your goals for optimal results, too. If you want to lose weight and strip fat, drop your calories slightly, or eat a little more to build muscle and strength. Before attempting any advanced exercise, check your technique with a qualified trainer.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.