5 Characteristics of the Most Effective Workouts

Regardless of our goals, we’re all interested in reaching them as quickly as possible. If you’re looking to get jacked and tan just in time for your beach vacation in the summer or to avoid the winter pounds to show off your bikini body, then you must consider the effects from your decisions over the last six months. No solitary workout can undo the repercussions of two or three years of sedentary behavior coupled with poor nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Sure, compound exercises, interval training, metabolic conditioning, and barbell complexes all offer myriad benefits, which can improve nearly everyone’s physique. At the end of the day, though, a healthy lifestyle and fantastic physique are built through progressive behavioral changes leading to growth both mentally and physically.

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Anyone with a stopwatch and whistle can crush you if they expect maximal work output with little to no rest periods. However, the real question is, “Are you actually getting better?” In order to answer that, you should examine your workout and see if it contains these four qualities that determine success.


Whether you choose calf exercises, a full body workout, or just bodyweight circuits — at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you can actually maintain it.

Sure, there’s a time and place for overreaching, but when it comes to getting the results you want, the most successful programs are the ones that allow you to train hard while still giving you the time to be able to recover. You shouldn’t finish every workout in a pool of sweat, gasping for breath, and wondering why you can’t feel the left side of your face.

2. Consistency

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to make it to the gym four to five times per week to get in some strength training and conditioning. These days though, most folks are hard pressed to fit in just three sessions.

However, you’ll find that most trainees who actually reach their fitness goals don’t miss too many workouts. Sure, there will be days when you get sick, have car trouble, or the gym closed early – I understand, life happens. Just make sure that you’re not caught in the weekend warrior trap and letting your results suffer because of a hectic schedule. Find a time that works for you and stick with it.

3. Hard Work

No one ever built an incredible physique from BOSU ball squats and a few minutes on the elliptical. There is no getting around the fact that getting in shape takes an incredible amount of hard work if you want to get rid of those extra pounds.

Anyone who tries to make you believe that the “missing piece of your puzzle” is a specific product, their e-book, or access to the members-only forum, is only trying to make a hard sell by getting you to miss the main point. Hard work produces results if you’re patient and dedicated.

4. Simplicity

The most well designed training program won’t produce any results if the trainee doesn’t understand or believe in the methodology. Complexity decreases adherence, so when it comes to program design, you should always default to the simplest option.

When I refer to simplicity, I’m talking about the best “bang for your buck” exercises.

5. Patience

William Edward Hickson said if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again. Don’t expect that your workout routines will bear instant results. You need to be patient to see the effects of you training and workouts. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the effects of the damage you have done to your body through leading a sedentary lifestyle and making poor nutrition decisions will not vanish in a few days of working out.

Finally, it is important that you stay patient and consistent to your workout regimen, work hard, but keep it simple — then, you can be sure of reaching your fitness goals and building the body of your dreams.

Written by Mike Wines

About the Author: Mike Wines is a strength and conditioning coach and content editor for Muscle & Strength. He received his B.S. in exercise science from the University of South Carolina and seeks to combine personal experience with practical application to provide programming- and movement-based solutions to match each individual’s goals.