Like anything else, working out can become routine. If you’ve spent a lot of time in the gym, there’s a good chance that you’ve experienced a plateau, haven’t seen any improvements, and might even be getting bored.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to change things up. Try these 9 tips for increasing the intensity of your workouts, and can get yourself back on track to exceed your fitness goals.
Workout with a friend
If you’re a lone-wolf type of gym goer, this might not be the first thing that pops into your mind. However, it could just be the solution you need to push yourself towards better physical fitness.
A workout buddy gives you someone for friendly and constructive competition, a spotter, and an accountability partner. Whether you go to the gym together one day a week, or every day, working out with a friend will help to keep you consistent -which is the hardest part!
Shorten the rest time between sets
Adding intensity to a workout doesn’t necessarily mean adding more weight. Sometimes you simply might not be strong enough to safely add weight yet, so you’re stuck between progressing and stagnating.
You might go for a two-hour workout, work every major muscle group with all the reps you planned to, and still not break a sweat. This doesn’t mean that you’re in great shape -it means you’re resting too long in between sets.
One of the best ways to increase workout intensity is to reduce the amount of rest time in between each set. If you’re used to completing a set, and waiting for 2 minutes before the next set, try cutting your rest time in half.
Get a stopwatch and start it as soon as you finish the first set. As soon as it reaches 50 seconds, get ready to start the next set. If that’s still too much rest time, try cutting it down to 30 seconds.
One thing that’s easy to lose sight of when working out is technique, but another important aspect to consider is time under tension. If you’re used to bench pressing your bodyweight with fast and explosive form, try cutting that weight by 30-50% and slow down your movement.
Your reps should be so slow that it takes somewhere around 5 seconds to complete one rep.
Try this with pushups as well. Start in the up position, and count 5-10 seconds on the downward movement, hold it for 5 seconds, and count 5-10 seconds on the upward movement.
Explosiveness is important, but so is time under tension!
Incorporate circuits and supersets
On cardio day, forget about the treadmill, stairmaster, and elliptical machines. Train your cardiovascular endurance more effectively with high intensity interval training and circuits.
For example, set a timer for ten minutes, and complete as many rounds of 5 burpees, 7 pushups, and 12 sit-ups as you can in the ten minutes.
Combine pre-exhausting with compound movements
Incorporating compound movements like back/front squats, deadlifts, and power-cleans into your workouts will undoubtedly improve your overall strength. You can increase the intensity of these movements even further by pre-exhausting the muscles you intend to target.
For example, before you get to your back squats, pre-exhaust your legs by doing sets of leg extension, leg curls, and leg presses.
Properly fuel and recover
Getting the most out of a workout starts in the kitchen. If you’re not properly fueled and rested, you simply won’t have the same level of energy, and you’ll get less out of the workout than you would otherwise.
So make sure that you’re fueled up by eating something like a granola bar or banana, and that you’re well rested. You can even use cannabis products like CBD oil to help improve recovery time and increase workout intensity.
Get your head right
As we mentioned earlier, going to the gym and working out everyday can become pretty mundane and routine. Most often this isn’t due to the workout itself as much as it is your own mentality.
Do you want to workout? -The answer is probably no, but you go anyway with the idea that you just need to check that box. This almost always results in skipping things like properly warming up, doing less sets and reps, not adding more weight when you probably can, and cutting corners in countless other ways.
So getting your head right before you go into a workout is paramount because seeing results requires that you really push yourself. That takes commitment and mental fortitude on your part. Sometimes a little caffeine or pre-workout supplement can help give you the energy to feel like conquering your workout, and sometimes you just have to go for it old-school, knuckle-dragger style!
Here’s a rule to live by: when you feel like you’ve reached your absolute physical limit, in reality, you’ve only hit about 40% of your actual potential, so keep going and see how tough you really are!
Doing the same workouts over and over again can easily drag your motivation through the mud, but following these 7 tips will help to improve your workout intensity, and have you wanting to get back in the gym for more!