Changing up your workout occasionally is great for keeping things fresh and preventing you from hitting a plateau. However, some of us have limited equipment or a limited knowledge of different exercises. Here is a list of ways you can change it up without having to figure out a new routine.
Weight: This may seem obvious, but I see many people moving the same weight every time they workout. Over time the body acclimates to this activity and you no longer make progress. A good rule of thumb is to increase the weight by 2.5 to 5 pounds for upper body and 5 to 10 pounds for lower body every week to 2 weeks.
Repetitions: Been doing 3 sets of 10 for 3 sets for the last 10 years? Try increasing the number of repetitions at your current weight or adding some weight and decreasing the number of reps. Regardless of the weight and reps you should feel like you only have a few reps left in the tank at the end of each set if not, see number 1 above.
Sets: Just like increasing or decreasing reps, you can always add a set or three to increase your overall workout volume.
Tempo: What the heck is that? Tempo is the pace at which you move the weight. Next time you do bicep curls, take a slightly lighter weight than you normally use and do a 3 count on the way up and a 3 count on the way down and see how that feels. What this does is increases the time that your muscle spends under tension, causing more damage, which results in muscle building. You can even throw a pause in the middle of your lift (at the bottom of your squat for example). Conversely, you can drop the weight and work at being more explosive in your actions. This causes the brain to get a lot more involved in what you’re doing which can increase reaction time and coordination.
Rest: The amount a rest you take can change the effort you can put into the next set. Less recovery results in muscle building. More recovery results in strength gains. This is a bit of an oversimplification because the weight and reps you use will also factor in here. The basic rule of thumb: moderate weight, moderate reps, short rest (:30-:1:00) for muscle building and high weight, low reps, long rest (2:00-5:00) for strength gains.
Order: Change the order of your workout, pair up different exercises, make a circuit. All of these can freshen up your routine and make it feel totally different.
These are just a few of the changes you can make to your workout to get you out of your comfort zone and break through a plateau.
See you at the gym!