10 Ways To REV UP Your WORKOUT!
Exercise programs need to be changed in order to see and feel continual results, but we are creatures of habit so it can be difficult stick with a new exercise routine. The solution: Inject new life into your boring workout routine. These tips will help you break out of your rut and give you a new challenging regime.
1. Pay Attention to the Clock: Workouts are often derailed by chit-chat and water breaks. Short intense workouts offer the best results, use a stopwatch to tell you when it’s time to work and time to rest. Bring your own water bottle so you don’t have to keep filling that tiny cup. Try allowing just 60–90 seconds of rest between each set of strength exercises to add a cardio boost to the workout. This will increase fat burning while you are strength training to put on lean muscle.
2. Do Both Strength and Cardio: People often think of these two forms of exercise as separate workouts, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Add cardio intervals such as jumping rope, quick sprints on the treadmill, mountain climbers, burpees etc…. these will rev the metabolism while still allowing for strength gains.
3. Isometric Holds: Contract a muscle and hold it in a flexed position (aka static holds), this provides both strength and endurance benefits that can’t be achieved through traditional exercises (i.e 2 counts up, 2 counts down). These exercises also will force you to contract MORE muscles as the big guys tire out. Try a stability ball or traditional wall squat that will engage the thighs and glutes. Start with 30-seconds and work towards holding this static position for longer periods of time as strength and muscular endurance improve.
4. Say ‘NO’ to Machines: Exercise machines make resistance training user-friendly, and if you are a true beginner they are WONDERFUL to start but they don’t get the job done like free-weight exercises. Lifting with free weights uses stabilizing muscles as well as the ones you are targeting and therefore burn more calories than the machines that just set you up to hit a specific muscle. Similarly, body weight exercises are more effective for core strengthening and fat burning workouts than machines.
5. Instability: Exercises that require balance stimulate more muscle recruitment, specifically core and stabilizing muscles, than exercises done a stable surface. This is pretty obvious: Is a lunge standing on the floor as challenging as one with your foot on a wobble board? The key is to make sure proper form is never compromised.
6. Single Leg/Single Arm: Most people favor their dominant side without even knowing it. Using exercises that force each arm or leg to work independently will help equalize strength growth on both sides and balance muscle. A single leg squat or single arm push up are two great examples of unilateral exercises that also strengthen the core.
7. Explosive Exercise: Research shows explosive exercises such as box jumps, kettlebell swings, and plyometric jumps achieve a greater response from fast-twitch muscles which have a greater potential for growth when compared to slow-twitch muscles. These exercises also combine strength and cardio into one exercise, increasing the calorie burn.
8. Add Resistance: Many studies have shown that exercisers who lift heavy weight for just 8 reps can burn double the calories of those lifting lighter weights for 15 reps. Implement this rule of thumb: Keep adding weight to an exercise until achieving 3 sets of 10 reps becomes very challenging (i.e barely able to do the final rep!). Practice with that weight until 10 reps becomes too doable and then add a few more pounds of resistance.
9. Circuit Train: Quickly moving from one exercise right into the next is a great way to create a time-efficient, cardio-focused workout. Set up a circuit that targets different muscle groups back-to-back to avoid burnout. For example, perform squats before a chest fly, and then a lunge followed by a back row. This gives each muscle group enough time to recover while the next body part is targeted.
10. Fail?!?: Failure occurs when a muscle is so exhausted it can’t complete one more repetition of an exercise in proper form. Research suggests training to failure can increase strength and improve the body’s ability to build lean muscle. One way to get to this muscle failure is through super-slow movements using relatively light resistance. Slowing down the tempo of each rep causes greater muscle contractions and has been shown to increase strength. Make your reps 10 counts up, 10 counts down.
BONUS: Track It: Trying to remember every exercise, every repetition, and every weight during a previous workout will drive you crazy. If you do not keep a record of your previous accomplishments it is difficult to see measureable progress. Using a fitness app or a workout journal will provide motivation to kick butt every workout.