Do you ever feel like you have hit an exercise plateau? You are staying consistent in your workouts but you feel like you aren’t making progress? Whether it is changing the composition of your body or increasing strength, we can all relate to this in some way.
Our bodies crave change. If you want a different result, you have to try a different approach. You don’t have to completely change your workout routine to rekindle those gym gainz, but sprinkling new tactics into your routine can definitely get the job done.
We have put together 5 ways you can spice up your fitness routine.
1. Add more weight
This may seem like a no brainer, but it is something that is typically overlooked. Challenging yourself in the weight room is key. If your body is not challenged, how will it change? If you are currently squatting 115 lb don’t jump to 145 overnight, increase the weight within reason. Start by adding 5-10 pounds. If you notice by the end of your set the last couple of reps aren’t challenging then add 2.5-5 lbs more. A little added weight can go a long way. For those of you currently working with body weight exercises, start adding light weight to those exercises.
Remember: Form is always important! Don’t sacrifice your form just to say you did more weight. Pay attention to how your body adjusts to the added weight.
2. Diversify your load/stress
There are so many ways to add load and stress to exercises. If you are used to using machines at the gym, switch to using free weights and/or KBs for those exercises. If you always use free weights, try performing the exercises with a barbell or a cable machine. If you always find yourself under the barbell, take a step back and try using bands or cables for resistance. Even if the basis of the movements are the same, changing the source of the load can help awaken different muscles.
3. Incorporate complex movement
Add elements to your exercises that increase coordination needed or incorporate multi-joint movements. Combine movements such as squats and overhead press (thruster) to incorporate compound multi-joint movement. If you typically do bilateral movements switch it up with a unilateral counterpart to that exercises.
Here are some swaps you can make for bilateral movements:
Barbell front squat → Step-ups
Good Mornings → Single-leg Romanian deadlift
Barbell Shoulder Press → Single-arm landmine press or half kneeling single arm DB press
Pull-ups → Altering single arm lat pulldown
4. Add variety throughout your week
Start by picking one day out of the week to go outside of your norm. Take a new class, try a different form of cardio or switch up your current body split (the muscles you focus on in each workout). If you currently do HIIT or Tabata workouts, change the work vs rest times and add more rounds. You can change up your set + rep scheme or throw out your sets and reps all together by trying escalating density training (EDT). EDT is a training principle focused on pairing together two movements (think superset) under a time limitation. You do each movement for a low number of reps (4-6) and rest about 20-40 seconds between exercises. You go back and forth between those exercises for a set amount of time (10-20 min). Instead of counting sets and reps you count the number of rounds you make it through in that time frame!
Try these EDT pairings in your next workout:
12 min lower body EDT
Goblet Squat 6 reps
DB RDL 6 reps
12 min upper body EDT
Overhead DB Press 6 reps
Chin or Pull ups (Assisted if needed) 6 reps
5. Vary your tempo
Another term for tempo is time under tension. This refers to how long a muscle is under strain during an exercise. If you typically perform exercises quickly, slow it down and increase the time under tension for the exercise.
Examples for increasing time under tension:
Squats – go down for 3 seconds, pause at bottom for 1 second, then explode up
Push ups – go down for 3 seconds, pause at bottom for 1 second, then explode up
Core exercises – Hold the contraction part of rep for 3 seconds before relaxing.
Hip Bridge – Hold at the top of the hip bridge for 3 seconds
Bicep Curls – Quickly get to the top of the bicep curl and then lower down for 3 seconds
On the flip side, you can also do exercises quickly and decrease the time under tension for that movement. It is beneficial to include both slow and fast tempos in your exercise regimen.
What’s the takeaway from all of this? Don’t be afraid to switch up how perform your workouts to help you reach your goals!