With swimsuit season right around the corner, people are headed back to the gym with a renewed sense of purpose. If you’re one of them, here are five ways to keep things from getting stale, and to upgrade your workouts:
1. Go one at a time.
Single leg and single arm training is a great way to get have a greater impact on your core and metabolism every time you work out. Example: Think about doing a squat with both legs at once. Split squats (and the harder Bulgarian split squats) are called a unilateral exercise – one leg is forward and one is behind you and you squat. This gives you several benefits: one, it puts your legs under tension for more time for a greater metabolic impact, and, two, it’s safer– your lower back gives out before your legs in a two legged squat. The split squat keeps you safer while you work harder.
The same is true for upper body exercises. Example: the bench press. Traditionally you have one (a bar) or two perfectly balanced loads that move together. However, if we make this a single arm bench press (load in one hand only), then we make your core and the rest of your body work overtime to keep you stable and balanced for a bigger metabolic impact.
2. Rotate your reps.
Some articles will say only do lower weight and higher reps (12 to 20), others will say do the opposite (1 to 6), and you can also find experts who say that everything should be in the middle (6 to 12). Who’s right? None of them, and all of them.
When it comes to looking your best, you want your body to have a unique stimulus to adapt to. If you do high rep work all of the time, it really won’t change your body. Rotate between the rep ranges systematically over time and you will keep things interesting and maximize your results. You’ll be forcing your body to be inefficient by expending more energy.
3. Carry heavy stuff.
Something magical happens when you pick up something heavy and take a walk. People begin the exercise by wondering what body part we’re working and finish it realizing that they just worked everything in a brand new way. Carrying one or two heavy things (dumbbells, kettlebells, rocks if you have them) is excellent for your posture, wakes up your core, and burns a ton of calories. Try including what we call a “farmer’s walk” into your core training or your “finisher.”
4. Not just front to back.
Your body, your muscles (metabolism) are three dimensional, but why is almost everything we do in fitness just front to back? Most of the muscles in your body run side to side or around a corner, almost none of them go in nice, straight lines. Your body was meant (needs!) to move front to back, side to side, and rotationally.
5. Muscles not movements.
Gray Cook wisely said, “if you train muscles, you forget movements. But, if you train movements, you’ll never forget a muscle.” He is absolutely right. Your body was designed to move–to squat, lunge, push, pull, walk, etc. If you try to isolate and focus on individual muscles, you will definitely leave out most movements (and muscles) because you’ll run out of time. Hit all of the movements and you will hit every muscle in your body every time, and that will boost metabolism and results like few other things can.
Josef Brandenburg is the leading fitness coach in the DC area with over 15 years of experience. He and his team are transforming people’s lives and bodies at The Body You Want Fitness Solutions in Georgetown. To find out how to get the body you want in the time you actually have, check out the website and like them on Facebook.