Unless you’re getting over an injury, those machines that litter your gym floor are little use to you. Isolation exercises might one work muscle to exhaustion, but multi-joint, compound exercises spike the fat-burning, muscle-building hormones that get you the body you want, quicker. So grab a barbell and step up.
Squat down and grasp a barbell with your hands roughly shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest up, pull your shoulders back and look straight ahead as you lift the bar. Focus on taking the weight back onto your heels and keep the bar as close as possible to your body at all times. Lift to thigh level, pause, then return under control to the start position.
Stand behind a grounded barbell. Bend your knees slightly to grab it, keeping your shins, back and hips straight. Without bending your back, push your hips forwards to lift the bar. From upright, push your hips back to lower the bar, bending your knees only slightly.
Choose an appropriate weight and place the barbell across your back. Step forward with your right foot and sink into a lunge, so both legs are bent with your back knee as close to the floor as possible. Drive yourself back up and repeat on the other side.
One leg hamstring curl
Lie face down on the leg curl machine with your heels against the lower pad and the bench against your thighs. Bend one knee to pull the pad up towards your backside as far as possible, then return to the start position and repeat on the other side.
Single dumbbell calf raise
Put a weight plate on the floor and rest your toes on it whilst sitting on a bench. Place a dumbbell on your knee, your right hand holding the handle whilst your left hand holds the top. Lift up your toes as high as possible. Pause, then lower it back onto the weight and repeat.
Seated calf raise (leg press machine)
Sit down at the leg press machine and rest your feet so just your toes are resting at the bottom of the platform. Push back as far as you can while keeping your feet against the platform. Return under control to the start position and repeat.