Weight Training Change Up for Results
If you are a regular in the gym, you probably are like most people who have his or her set routine.
Each day of the week consists of the same workout. Something like chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, arms on Wednesday (or maybe you separate biceps and triceps on different days), shoulders on Thursday and maybe legs on Friday if you are not too tired or even bother to train legs at all.
Each workout includes about 4 exercises per body part, around 8-12 reps of each exercise and usually three sets of pyramids, meaning you try to increase the weight slightly for the second and third set.
On most weight training days you also include a bit of cardio. Usually it lasts about 30 minutes. Your go to piece of equipment is the elliptical. It burns a good amount of calories, is easier on the knees, and is not too exhausting. If you are feeling really energetic then you will jump on the treadmill.
Now truth be told, there is nothing wrong with this workout. You are religious about it. You are there most days of the week, weeks of the month and months of the year. You feel pretty healthy and don’t miss too many workouts. You are generally happy with how you look and feel but wonder if you could make improvements.
The answer is of course yes, but it requires getting out of your comfort zone. We are all adverse to change. We like status quo. We know how long our workout takes, how much energy is required and what to expect each time.
I could offer up multiple workouts and changes but let’s start simple. Make slight changes to your workouts. Below are easy ideas.
1. Mix up the days of the week you are working out.
Instead of chest on Monday, switch it to Thursday. Instead of skipping legs, do them Monday. You get the idea.
2. Speaking of legs. Train them!
Your legs are your largest muscle group. That means more bang for your buck when training them. It will give your testosterone levels a boost, which means all the muscles in your body will grow jut by training legs. Sweet right?!?!
3. Change the order of each day’s workout.
Instead of bench press first, do flyes. Instead of shoulder press first, do lateral raises. Instead of barbell curls first, do hammer curls.
4. Do cardio before weight training.
Usually it is most beneficial to weight train first, depleting glycogen levels in the body then continuing onto cardio to burn fat as the primary fuel source. However, you are usually most energetic at the beginning of a workout. So hit the cardio first to burn away more calories, which equates to more fat (and carb) calories burnt overall.
5. Try interval or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio.
Instead of 30 or more minutes of steady state cardio, challenge yourself to work harder for a shorter period of time. You will be amazed that you can burn more calories in 20 minutes than 30 or more simply by working harder for short bursts. Try the following once or twice a week on any piece of cardio. Warm up easy for about 5 minutes. Then alternate 30 seconds of cardio sprinting with 60 seconds of steady state cardio. Repeat this 5 times, and then cool down for 5-8 minutes. That is only about 20 minutes of exercise. Each week add another repeat until you are to 10 repeats.
These are five simple changes to your workouts that can and will lead to vast improvements if you stick with the change. Get out of your rut and commit to change. Once you have made these changes for 4-8 weeks it will be even easier to make another change down the road.
Remember your body easily gets accustomed to a routine and no longer responds to all your hard training and diligent work. Make these changes and then change it up again after a month or two. You will see results and come to find that you appreciate change.
Kyle Washburn is the National Health and Fitness Editor at Edge Publications, Inc. He earned a BS in Physiology, M.Ed in Sport Psychology and Counseling and an MBA. He is a certified personal trainer through NASM and ACE and has been training for over ten years. He is an avid triathlete, softball and tennis player, runner, hiker and enjoys the outdoors.