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Oh The Mistakes You’re Making — 14 Fitness Tips To Workout SMARTER And Maximize Your Results

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3. Compound > Isolation

fitness tips, workout tips, gym tips, workout rules, workout tips, workout strategies, how to workout, how to start working out, lifting tips

Priorities, priorities, priorities. Time is our most valuable asset. Increasing the efficiency of your workouts and maximizing the impact of each and every set is absolutely crucial.

Consolidate. Compound exercises, not isolation lifts, should anchor the foundation of every workout. They burn significantly more fat and rev metabolism; stimulate the production of muscle-building hormones, including hGH and testosterone; compress the core; and blast multiple different muscle groups at once. Most compound exercises are also the single best way to build a killer six-pack.12

Compound lifts hit hard like a sledgehammer, blast fat stores (again, intensity), and build all-around muscle mass; isolation moves dig in like a scalpel and help accentuate individual muscles. Both are important, but the former should always be your priority.

Examples of compound lifts include:

  • Legs – Squats, Lunges
  • Back – Deadlifts, Rows
  • Chest – Bench Press, Dips, Burpees
  • Shoulders – Clean & Press, Kettlebell Swings, Military Press

In my mind, you’re not allowed to do ANY isolation moves (bicep curls, tricep pulldowns, lateral raises, etc.) until you finish at least 2 series of compound lifts. Stop doing 14 sets of biceps curls and hammer curls when you vehemently refuse to do rows, deadlifts, or pull-ups.

Get your squats and lunges in, and then do calf raises. Consider isolation moves as workout dessert.


4. Follow This Sequence

Order matters. Follow this hierarchy. Think of it as workout logic, as if you were taking the SATs.

  1. Do strength/resistance training before HIIT cardio.
  2. Do HIIT cardio before distance cardio.
  3. Do distance cardio as the last part of your workout.

The sequence does two things – it ensures that your energy stores will always be full for resistance training, where optimal performance is paramount. Especially as you progress, growth can often come down to 1-2 additional reps and a few extra pounds on any given set. Going in with minimal fatigue is critical.

Second, you’ll burn more fat. By doing high-intensity, anaerobic activities first, you quickly deplete your stored carbs (glycogen). That leaves fat exposed as the primary energy source-your body eventually relies on it-and ready to sizzle. For workouts that progress from lifting ? HIIT, you’ll be digging almost exclusively into stored fat throughout your HIIT session.


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Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  1. Fry AC, Lohnes CA. Acute testosterone and cortisol responses to high power resistance exercise. Fiziol Cheloveka. 2010 Jul-Aug;36(4):102-6. []
  2. Schwab R, Johnson GO, Housh TJ, Kinder JE, Weir JP. Acute effects of different intensities of weight lifting on serum testosterone. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993 Dec;25(12):1381-5. []
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