Do you ever feel like your workouts might be missing something? Sure, you’re training hard and being consistent, but there has to be more to it.
The truth is, effective training is about more than simply going hard, sweating, and panting. Training is a process that, like any other, can be improved with the right ideas.
Without further ado, let’s examine six simple but effective ways to improve your workouts instantly.
1. Slow Down
We don’t always have the time for a long training session. But when we do, we should take full advantage of it.
Slowing down can assume many forms, but it typically refers to slowing down the tempo with which you do an exercise. For instance, when lifting weights, do each repetition slowly and deliberately. Doing so is beneficial for activating the correct muscles and causing a stronger growth response.
Too many people rush through their workout like they’re on a time trial. Slow down, be mindful, and reap tremendous benefits.
2. Rest A Bit Longer Between Sets
Similar to the previous tip, this one relates to slowing down. Short rest periods between sets might seem beneficial because they fatigue us more, making us feel like we’re more productive. But short rest periods hinder our performance on subsequent sets, which typically results in accumulating less training volume.
Instead, you should adhere to specific recovery guidelines. Doing so will allow you to recover well enough, so you can attack each set with more energy, do more repetitions, maintain proper form, and make better progress.
Here are the guidelines:
- 2-6 reps – 3 to 5 minutes of rest
- 6 to 10 reps – 2 to 3 minutes of rest
- 10 to 15 reps – 1.5 to 2 minutes of rest
- 15+ reps – 60 to 90 seconds of rest
3. Use Full Range of Motion
We often focus on the amount of weight we are lifting in the gym. If we can lift five more pounds than we could last week, that’s a success for us. But the truth is, increasing the load isn’t the only way to make progress. Our muscles understand tension. So long as we provide it, we will grow.
Using a full range of motion on all exercises is a great way to improve the quality of your workouts and even reduce the risk of getting injured. Instead of trying to add five extra pounds on the squat, drop ten and squat deeper. Aim to have your thighs reach parallel with the floor on each repetition. Doing so will activate your muscles better and ensure that you’re using better form and training with a weight you can control.
The same goes for rows, lateral raises, bicep curls, and pressing movements. Put your muscles through the full range of motion, even if that means reducing the weight you’re using a bit.
4. Add Warm-Up Sets
Most trainees do at least some warming up before training. Dynamic stretching and low-intensity cardio are two popular options.
While beneficial, a good warm-up should have one extra element: warm-up sets. Adding warm-up sets to your workout is helpful for three reasons:
- You reinforce proper training form and get to practice the lift with light weight.
- You get to spot if you’re experiencing any aches with light weight. You can either do a different exercise or warm up more.
- You further warm up the joints, connective tissues, and muscles that you’ll be training with heavier weights.
Warm-up sets are also simple to implement. Once you finish your general warm-up, begin with light weights and gradually work up to your training loads. For example, if you plan to bench press 225 pounds, it could look like this:
Set 1 – 45 pounds x 10 reps
Set 2 – 105 pounds x 5 reps
Set 3 – 155 pounds x 2 reps
Set 4 – 185 pounds x 1 rep
Set 5 – 225 pounds
It might seem tedious, but this doesn’t take long because each session is easy to do. But doing these can pay off in significant ways down the road.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Try Something New
When we start training, we try many things and experiment to see what works for us and what we enjoy. But as we gain experience, we begin to stick with a single approach and ignore everything else. In other words, we become rigid. We do the same exercises, follow the same schedule, and push ourselves in the same way.
An excellent way to improve your workouts instantly is to try something new. If you’ve been doing a specific exercise since forever and you wonder why you keep doing it, switch it. For instance, switch to front squats or another variation if the barbell back squat feels off for some reason, or you don’t seem to make good progress anymore.
You can also experiment with the loads you use, your range of motion, or another training-related factor.
6. Push A Bit More
We often look for the next shiny tactic to improve our training and reap better results. But sometimes, working a bit harder is all we need to overcome a plateau and push ourselves in the right direction.
Reminding ourselves to push a bit harder becomes increasingly important as we gain experience. The more time we spend in the gym, the more likely we are to fall into a comfortable routine where we do the bare minimum and call it a day. But by calling ourselves out, we can take an objective look at our training and determine how hard we are genuinely working.
So, the next time you’re at the gym and working hard, try to be mindful. Examine your effort and ask yourself, “Am I truly working hard, or am I aiming for an arbitrary repetition goal, which I deem to be challenging enough?” In most cases, we can always work harder. Sometimes, only by a little, but that still matters because slight improvements add up.
Fitness is a never-ending journey of self-improvement, which is what makes it beautiful and worth pursuing. There is always something to learn and improve upon, so you can’t get comfortable and say, “I’ve made it.”
If you have the drive and ambition to improve continuously and help others do the same, why not consider a career in personal training? Our PT courses teach you all about proper exercise, nutrition, and guidance.