Have you ever been frustrated over a lack of results from your workout routine? If so, you are in good company. Even the most seasoned athletes experience times when their results plateau.
When you continue to put in the same effort day after day with little or no results it is safe to say that you’ve hit your own fitness plateau.
Your body adapts quickly to any repetitive routine. The definition of “insanity” is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results. This holds true for your workouts. When your results stop then it’s time to do something new.
I have good news—the following 4 tactics are guaranteed to crank your workouts up to the next level and to deliver the fast results you want.
#1: Focus on Negatives
Focus on the negative portion of each repetition by lowering the weight very slowly. Concentrate on the negative contraction, and make each repetition count.
If you are advanced, then use a training partner to assist you in moving heavier-than-normal weight into a contracted position, then lower it very slowly.
Another way to utilize negative repetitions on a machine is to lift the weight using two limbs but then lower it with just one. For example, use both legs to lift the weight on a leg extension machine, but then lower it back down slowly using only one leg.
#2: Do a Drop Set
Drop sets have long been used to fight off exercise plateaus. This technique is great for adding muscle strength, endurance and for increasing the cardiovascular benefit of your workout – resulting in more fat burn.
Here, in a nutshell, is how to do a drop set: When you perform an exercise to exhaustion, don’t stop there. Drop the weight by 80% and do another set.
Use this technique only once or twice per workout, on the final set of the exercise.
#3: Modify the Exercise
There are certain exercises that are considered ‘staples’ in the gym. The squat. The lunge. The chest press. The shoulder press. The bicep curl. You get the idea…
While you shouldn’t throw these exercises out the window, find creative ways to modify the familiar motion in order to challenge your muscles. Try these exercise modifications:
- Squat on a Bosu ball or balance board.
- Hold dumbbells and do walking lunges.
- Use an exercise ball for chest presses instead of the bench.
- Do a full squat between each repetition of shoulder presses.
- Do a shoulder press between each repetition of bicep curls. (I love this exercise, with a squat added, too!)
#4: Use Active Rest to turn each workout into High Intensity Interval Training
Every minute of your workout is an opportunity to increase intensity and to burn more fat. Don’t waste precious minutes with long rest periods between exercises.
While it is important to catch your breath if you feel winded, most of the time you would benefit more from an active rest than a passive one. Perform one of the following activities for 30 seconds between exercises and turn your regular workout into High Intensity Interval Training.
- High Knees with Alternating Punches: Alternately bring each knee high to your chest in a quick jumping movement while alternating forward punches at shoulder level.
- Burpees: Start in a standing position and squat. Place your hands on the floor, step back, extending your legs until they’re straight and you’re in the push-up position. Lower for a push-up, and when you push yourself up, jump slightly forward to bring your feet wide into a squat near your hands. Finally, stand up and jump in the air with your arms over your head.
- Side-to-Side Jumps on Bench: Stand on one side of an exercise bench. Place the foot closest up onto the bench, jump up and switch feet, landing on the opposite side of the bench.
- Mountain Climbers: Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the ground in a push-up position. Bring one knee to your chest and then back to the starting position, alternate each leg quickly.
- Mogul Ski Jumps: With feet close together in a squat, jump and land with both feet slightly to the right, landing in a squat – holding your abs tight. Keep a bend in your knees and keep your upper body facing front as you alternate your squat jump right then left.
- Jump Lunges with Pop Squat: Start in a lunge position, lunge down then quickly jump up, switching your leg position in midair, land in an opposite leg lunge. Once you’ve done both legs, jump and land wide in a squat.
- Medicine Ball Squat Jumps: With feet wider than shoulder-width apart hold a medicine ball at chest level. Squat down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Explosively jump up, raising the medicine ball straight over your head.Be sure to land in a squat