Switch Up Your Gym Routine!

Are you bored with going to the gym and doing the same old thing? If so, it’s time to switch things up! Simply by changing the repetition range, lifting technique or body part split, you can infuse your workouts with something new and exciting. If you really want to ramp up your routine, add plyometrics or calisthenics, or perform supersets or giant sets.

If you don’t exactly know how to make the changes I am suggesting, I have broken down different exercise elements so that you can easily make changes to your workout routine which will keep you interested.

CHANGE REPETITION RANGE – If you have a habit of doing four sets of 15 repetitions regardless of which exercise you are doing, how about switching it up? Perhaps you can do a warmup set at the same weight which you usually eke out 15 reps, but push yourself to do 20 really good reps. Then increase the weight and do 3 sets of 8-10 reps, and perform them with intensity.

STACK REP RANGES IN PYRAMIDS – Another thing you can try is pyramids, which basically consist of gradually increasing or decreasing the rep range, while decreasing or increasing the weight lifted accordingly. You can perform ascending, descending, or ascending-descending pyramids.

Ascending Pyramids = You will gradually increase the weight used, and decrease the number of repetitions accordingly, with each set. For example, your first set may be 20 repetitions, the second 15 reps, the third 10 reps, and the fourth set 7 reps. Ascending pyramids are effective for increasing strength since you gradually increase the load on the muscle worked.

Descending Pyramids = You perform your first set at a heavy weight, eking out about 6 to 8 solid reps. Subsequent sets will consist of gradually decreasing the weight used, and increasing the number of repetitions accordingly. For example, the second set may consist of 10 reps, the third 15 reps, and the fourth set 20 reps or to complete failure. Descending pyramids are effective for increasing muscle girth since the gradual drop in weight enables you to perform sets to failure.

Ascending-Descending Pyramids = With this pyramid approach, you gradually increase the weight used, and decrease the number of repetitions accordingly, with the first few sets, then DECREASE the weight used and increase the number of reps to finish out the routine. Because of this, I recommend performing odd numbers of sets. For example, your first set may be 20 repetitions, the second 15 reps, the third 8 reps, the fourth set 15 reps, and a fifth and final set can consist of 20-25 reps.

CHANGE THE NUMBER OF SETS PERFORMED – If you are in a rut because you always perform four sets of every exercise, challenge yourself and do 5 or 6 sets. A great way to shake out the cobwebs in your routine is to go for volume, perhaps performing 8 to 10 sets of each exercise to really work your muscles to exhaustion.

CHANGE YOUR LIFTING TECHNIQUE – Many people tend to perform exercises rather rapidly every time they train, so they don’t really focus on what they are doing. There are a couple of ways in which you can challenge yourself and break through plateaus if you have this tendency. One method is to perform negatives, which basically means that after you lift the weight in the concentric phase (in a bicep curl, this would be the phase in which you curl the weight toward your shoulder), you slowly return the dumbbell to the starting position for a count of 5 or 6 seconds. Another great method is rest-pause, in which you perform a repetition at a normal rate, pause briefly, then go to your next repetition forcefully. When using rest-pause technique, slightly increase the weight used to really challenge yourself.

CHANGE YOUR BODY PART SPLIT – If you always train legs on Tuesdays and chest on Fridays, perhaps you might want to switch things up. If you aren’t seeing enough desirable changes in your lower half, add another leg day and focus on the areas which you would like to improve. If you always train your entire body every time you hit the gym, start splitting up body parts so that you devote more time to getting maximum recruitment in the muscles you train.

ADD PLYOMETRICS OR CALISTHENICS – Adding ballistic movements like plyometrics or calisthenics can serve as the catalyst for rapid body transformation. Just be careful if you have hip, knee, or ankle issues. Try adding moves like jumping jacks, jump squats, mountain climbers, burpees, and X-jumps.

PERFORM SUPERSETS OR GIANT SETS – Try stacking two or more exercises together without resting in between exercises to increase muscle fiber recruitment. You can either stack weighted exercises, or perform a combination of weighted moves and plyometrics.
Examples are:
Leg press machine/jump squats
Incline bench chest presses/pushups/dumbbell pullovers

Try a New Sport to Break Fitness Plateaus

Please read my latest article for Sports Nutrition Supplement Guide!

Original post can be found at:
http://www.sportsnutritionsupplementguide.com/training/agility-drills/item/1567-try-a-new-sport-to-break-fitness-plateaus#.VsJ6RvkrLIV

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If you are a dedicated weightlifter, you have probably had to struggle with fitness plateaus at some point. What most lifters do when they reach a sticking point with their progress is they switch up the rep range or lifting technique in order to activate the muscles differently, but they usually won’t step outside the gym to explore other activities.

However, perhaps the best way to break through a stubborn plateau, especially if you have already tried with the weights to no avail, is to train in a sport which will address your areas of weakness in a novel way, and in many cases, produce the results you seek. Though I am a big proponent of weight training, I also promote training in other sports as a means of changing things up and challenging the body.

One of the most common laments I hear is that the shoulders often lag behind development of the back and arms. So if you have deltoid muscles which won’t respond to iron therapy no matter how you switch up your training, you might want to consider giving tennis or basketball a try. People who regularly engage in these sports tend to have some of the shapeliest shoulders and arms around, because the body mechanics which characterize them incorporate a lot of movement around the shoulder joints. If the region of your body which is lagging behind is your lower extremities, you can engage in sports such as soccer or cycling to ramp up your training efforts and shape up your legs rapidly. If team sports aren’t your thing, you could take up a martial art or boxing to improve your strength and agility while also making your physique appear more balanced.

On a personal note, I took a few flying trapeze classes last fall and was amazed at how much back recruitment occurred during those classes. Though I didn’t sign up for flying trapeze classes with a goal of widening my lats, they indeed became wider as a result of all the static hanging I did from the trapeze pole. I also noticed that after every class, I was sore in places where I never felt sore when I lifted weights. It was a great challenge for me which also enabled me to confront a mild fear of heights. I also found it challenging to refrain from shrugging my shoulders or pulling my body up as I would do during a pullup at the gym. I began to use my body in different ways, and it rewarded me with an improved back silhouette.

In essence, practicing a sport can often break people out of a weightlifting rut and force them to use their bodies differently. You can still adopt the “Gym Is Life” mentality, but by broadening your horizons, you’ll have fun in the process, improve your athletic prowess, and if you choose your sport wisely, may be rewarded with a more balanced and conditioned physique.