Ever feel like you’re working out hard, but your workout isn’t working as hard for you? Turn to Barry’s Bootcamp CEO (and Well+Good Council member) Joey Gonzalez, who has an incredible ability to maximize the results of any given sweat session. Here, Gonzalez shares his secrets for getting more from your next workout—and his one simple-but-brilliant hack for strength training.
Between my job as CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, my entrepreneurial work with Au Fudge, and being a husband and father, I usually pack a lot into each day. So I’m all about efficiency, and of course, that goes for my workout, too.
Now, you probably have your own definition of an efficient workout. For a lot of people, it means burning up a bunch of calories. (Maybe you use a fitness tracker for just this purpose.) But that’s not how I judge the worth of a workout, personally. To me, efficiency is defined by the desired result. If you’re someone looking to put on muscle, for instance, your version of an efficient workout will be much different than if you’re someone looking to drop body fat and get toned.
Don’t assume that cardio alone is the best way to reach your goals.
So the first question you need to ask yourself is this: What are my fitness goals and aspirations? Then do some investigating, either with a trainer or online, to discover the best workouts to get there. Most importantly, that workout should be something you enjoy, so that it becomes a sustainable lifestyle choice—and not just a bridge to getting to a place and then feeling like you can stop.
By the way, don’t assume that cardio alone is the best way to reach your goals. I see a lot of people overindulging in cardio in an attempt to have an ultra-efficient workout—and while cardio is definitely important for the heart and lungs, you really need to work your muscles to get stronger and raise your metabolism. Finding that balance between the two will lead to results because you’ll be burning through that fat, building lean muscle tissue in its place, and raising your metabolism.
When it comes to strength training, this is my number-one efficiency hack: Use your brain! If you focus on the targeted muscle group while you’re performing the exercise, you can activate and challenge those muscles exponentially more. Let’s say you’re in plank position and you’re holding your own body weight. But you put your brain in your abs (figuratively, of course!) and you squeeze really hard every time you exhale. Or if you’re curling 10-pound weights and flexing your biceps at the top of that exercise, try holding it in an isometric way (i.e. holding the tension without contracting your muscles more) at the top for a beat or two.
When it comes to strength training, this is my number-one efficiency hack: Use your brain!
Focus your mind on the muscle you’re activating, and you’ll find that you actually can’t get through the same amount of reps as you could before. On top of that, you’re going to be more sore. That’s a good thing, by the way, because you’ve just made your workout way more efficient. Where the mind goes, the body follows—and by shifting your focus, you’ll see real results in less time.
As a trainer turned CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, Joey Gonzalez has a holistic view on wellness that includes family, mental health, and, of course, fitness. Since he took the top job in 2015, he’s grown the popular fitness empire to 41 studios—11 of them international.
What should Joey write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to [email protected].