When you start any fitness regime, your motivation, your enthusiasm and your desire is always sky high, and that's great! Over time, those things might remain high, which is even better, but there will be times when you begin to feel like you're just 'going through the motions' or you need to push yourself a little harder to break that plateau.
Even with the best will in the world exercise can begin feel a little repetitive. Perhaps you're new to gym work and want to take your training up a notch. Maybe you just need to make slight changes to push on. Many people go through any or all of these stages, but it's not a sign to quit. It's a sign that you may need a boost.
If you're in that stage (or can feel it approaching), I've got 6 great ways to boost your workout and re-energize your fitness plan goals Let's take a look, starting from your legs and working upwards!
1. Go lighter....
Sometimes going lighter is the best option for boosting progress. If you are half ranging movements in the quest for adding weight to your lift then it's time to make the cut. Drop weight so you work through a full range of movement with good focused form.
Once full range has been achieved and you are muscles are working effectively then start making your way up through the weights again. But don't sacrifice your form and results chasing numbers. Getting stronger will help to add more muscle but the key is be controlled and training as intelligently as possible.
2. Exercise variation - Leg Presses
If you're looking to strength your legs, there are few better exercises than the leg press. They are a regular exercise in many people's gym arsenal, but there are a couple of ways of varying them to give you a fresh outlook on the old classic.
Instead of the standard 2-leg press, try doing it with just one leg at a time. I'm not advocating trying to lift the same amount of weight as with two, but alternating legs individually can really help build muscle. You can also try adjusting the angle of your torso and lean your leg inward about 45 degrees to work your outer thigh muscle and really work the side of your gluteus muscles.
Have you been stuck on the same weight for what feels like an eternity? We have all been there.
It's time to bust out of your plateau and work your way to the next milestone.
Progressive overload is the name for the system, the system is progressively lifting heavier weights over time (make sure to read tip one before going heavier).
A great way implementing progressive overload is by cycling your reps. Use this format with your big lifts make consistent progress.
Start with week 1 - 5x6 with a weight you can lift about 8 times for one set. Then the next week 5x5 with a slightly heavier weight. Then the next week 5x4 with a slightly heavier weight than the previous week. Week 4 go back to 5x6 but use the weight you used in week 2. This format will give you steady gains and progressive overload. If your progress stops then it's time to change lifts, use just a small variation on the lift (squats – front squats, deadlifts – sumo deadlifts etc)
4. Exercise variation - Back Extensions
I'm putting a twist on your expectations with this next exercise. Here, we're going to use back extensions to work your hamstrings at the same time! Two for the price of one, and they're both free!
When doing your usual back extension exercise, push your heels out against the pad for the whole set to give them a huge boost, because they'll be now under constant tension. It's important to stress that you need to pull WITH the hamstrings. Don't hyperextend and only go high enough that you experience a tight squeeze in the back of your legs. Any more than that and you could injure yourself and we don't want that!
5. Exercise variation - Bench Press
Bench press is another classic exercise that many of you will be familiar with. You might not think there are any ways to mix it up, but I'm here to tell you there are!
If you're looking to increase the size of your upper pectorals, then angle is worth considering. Working from a medium steepness incline to start with I find gets more activation and chest development than flat bench press. Using Dumbbells can also be a great option for maximising development, I like a combination of Barbell and dumbbell incline bench followed by flat dumbbell bench for serious progress.
6. Exercise variation - Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Now we've moved up to the arms, let's talk dumbbells. If you're like millions of people in gyms around the world, you probably perform your single-arm dumbbell rows, kneeling on a bench with one leg behind you. It works that way, but there is a small twist you can add to really help you isolate the lats for even more effective training.
Instead of dumbbell give these fellas a go with the pivot barbell. It becomes a pivot barbell single arm row. A great exercise for lat strength and development. Set up like you are doing a T-bar Pivot barbell row but just use the single hand on the bar to row. Keep your back flat and try not to rotate much.
For more tips and advanced techniques for mastering your gym sessions then check out my online coaching plans. Take your training to the next level. Become your own Hero.