4 Fresh Workout Ideas
4 Fresh Workout Ideas
Do you find yourself bored doing the same workouts over and over again? Is going to the gym not as exciting for you anymore? Are you confused on how to progress your training?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then it’s time to shift and give new life to your workouts.
The methods I will be going over are in your grasp. They’re not only reserved for advanced trainees. You can apply them right away, even if you are a beginner.
Pausing at the Bottom of a Rep
Let’s say you can bench press 135lbs for 12 reps with pretty good form and now it’s time to progress this exercise.
Without a doubt, the most common and convenient way to increase the intensity is by adding more weight or reps.
But adding an isometric pause at the bottom position of the bench press will increase intramuscular tension and remove any momentum associated with the exercise.
An isometric contraction is when the muscle fibers do not change length but still have tension.
We’ve all seen it before, a guy at the gym bench pressing and bouncing the bar off his chest. This isn’t necessarily a bad approach. However, pausing at the bottom of your lift forces you to generate more power, and boost strength as a result.
This approach also forces you to increase the range of motion of the exercise because you must bring the bar very close to your chest. That in itself is already challenging for people that have the habit of doing partial reps all the time.
A safer alternative would be to do push ups. You start by getting in a plank position and you lower yourself to about an inch from the floor, pause briefly (1-2 seconds) and explode up.
Unilateral exercises are movements that are done using only one limb. A single leg squat is a good example, and so is a single arm dumbbell press. A bilateral exercise is a movement that is done with two limbs. A barbell squat or a barbell bench press are examples of bilateral movements.
It’s interesting to notice a trainee’s reaction when they are doing unilateral training for the first time. They come to realize that one limb is a lot stronger than the opposite one. This is something most people aren’t aware of because they’ve done bilateral training for such a long time.
Here are some reasons to include unilateral training into your workout routines:
- Improves strength and size imbalances between opposite limbs.
- Strengthens important stabilizing muscles such as the rotator cuff muscles found in the shoulder, or the gluteal muscles found in the hip.
- Including lower body unilateral exercises like the Bulgarian split squat removes stress from the back. Most people think they need to squat. There’s tons of ways to overload your legs without putting a barbell on your back, and the Bulgarian split squat is a great example of that. This movement requires strength and stability.
Superset lower body and upper exercises
Supersets is an approach where you alternate between two exercises, usually involving agonist and antagonist muscle groups.
An agonist approach will involve using the same muscle group (chest) like in a pushup and bench press. Using antagonist muscles will involve opposing muscle groups like the quadriceps and hamstrings.
The approach I am suggesting here is to superset a lower body and upper body exercise together. For example, you can do barbell front squats followed by pull ups, or dumbbell walking lunges paired with barbell bent over rows.
All upper and lower body exercises aren’t created equal. The key in doing this effectively is by selecting movements that incorporate multi-joint exercises. A seated bicep preacher curl paired up with leg extensions would be an ineffective choice.
Another key benefit of using supersets is that it allows for a lot of work to be done in a short amount of time. Alternating upper and lower body exercises also prevents excessively high lactate buildup.
Incorporate tempo training for muscular gains
Let’s suppose we have two guys that share the same goal of adding more muscle to their arms. We’ll call these guys Guy A and Guy B.
Guy A does barbell curls for 12 repetitions and he completes his set in 15 seconds. Guy B does the same exercise with the same repetitions but he completes his set in 60 seconds.
Before I answer which approach is more effective, let’s break this down a bit further.
Guy a took about 1 ¼ seconds to complete each one of his 12 reps. Those are some pretty fast reps. However, Guy B took 5 seconds to complete each one of his 12 reps.
Guy B was incorporating tempo training into his training. Tempo training involves how long it takes to complete one rep.
To be more specific, tempo training usually involves incorporating 4 numbers: Guy B used the following numbers ( 3-1-1-0).
- The first number reflects how long it takes to lower the weight (the eccentric portion of the repetition).
- The second number describes how long the pause is at the bottom of the rep. In this case 1 second.
- The third number reflects how long it takes to lift the weight from the bottom position (the concentric portion of the repetition)
- And finally the fourth number reflects how long you pause at the top of the exercise. In this case 0, which means Guy B did not rest once he made it to the top, he simply lowered the weight down for another 3 second count.
Guy A’s approach for inducing muscle growth is not optimal because he isn’t providing enough time for his muscles to work hard. This is referred to as time under tension.
Consider the following:
To increase muscle mass you want your total set duration to be between 20-70 seconds. That is a significant amount of time for a muscle to be under tension.
To increase strength you want your total set duration to be under 20 seconds. This would put Guy A under this category. Though Guy A’s approach isn’t technically bad, it’s not the most efficient approach for building muscle mass.
Think you got everything down packed? Try answering this 4 question quiz!