Workout Tips

25 Ways to Improve Your Workout

You never have to endure a bad workout again. Inject these 25 tips into your daily routine to start supercharging your gym sessions.

Dumbbell Biceps Curl

AzmanL / Getty

During your workout

You don't want to be a going-through-the-motions kind of guy in the gym. If you've gone through the trouble of suiting up for a workout, you'd best be getting after it hard. These tips are all designed to help you maximize intensity and strength today to help you look better tomorrow.

9. Use forced reps on your last sets

A Finnish study found that when subjects performed a workout with forced reps (a spotter helped them get through their sticking points to get a few more reps), their growth hormone (GH) levels were almost 4,000% higher than without using forced reps. For the last set of each exercise after reaching failure, go for 2-3 extra forced reps, but utilize these sparingly to prevent overtraining.

10. Don't train to failure on every set

Australian scientists have reported that training with one set to failure increases strength better than taking no sets to failure. However, when subjects did more than one set to failure, strength gains were lowered by almost half compared to the subjects doing just one set to failure.

11. Keep your focus on the muscle you're training

British researchers discovered that subjects who focused on their biceps while doing biceps curls had significantly more muscle activity than those who thought about other things. More muscle recruitment can result in more muscle growth in the long run. Be sure that for every rep of every set during your workout you're thinking about the muscle(s) being trained, instead of wondering where that blonde wearing the short shorts went to do her bent-over rows.

12. Vary your rep speed

In another Australian study, subjects performing fast repetitions (one second each on the positive and the negative portions of the rep) gained more strength than subjects using slow reps (three seconds each on the positive and negative) because fast-twitch muscle fibers have the greatest potential for strength increases. But the slow-rep subjects gained more muscle mass than the fast-rep subjects, likely due to the muscular time under tension and increased microtrauma. A good mix of both is the best way to maximize strength and size. Try changing from your regular controlled rep speed to 2-3 weeks of fast reps followed by 2-3 weeks of slow reps. 

13. Train with several partners

Research shows that when trained lifters attempt a 1RM in front of a group of people, they're stronger than when they lift in front of just one.

14. Listen to music

A study done at the Weider Research Group found that when trained bodybuilders performed a shoulder workout while listening to music, they were able to complete an average of 1-2 more reps per set for all sets of all exercises. So for another source of motivation, create a playlist of your favorite songs that jack up your adrenaline and bring it to the gym.

15. Don't train too heavy for too long

Yes, training with a heavy weight that prevents you from getting more than 4-5 reps is good for strength and overall mass when done in conjunction with lighter training that allows you to get 8-12 reps. Yet too much heavy training may work against muscle growth. Baylor University (Waco, TX) scientists found that when athletes trained using their 6RMs, they had higher levels of active myostatin (a protein that limits muscle growth) than when they did the same workout using their 18RMs. Keep to your heavy rep ranges for no longer than 6-8 weeks, then switch to a lighter-weight, higher-rep scheme to keep your myostatin levels in check.

16. Stay off the exercise balls, wobble boards, and other instability devices

Canadian scientists reported that doing dumbbell chest presses on an exercise ball resulted in a 40% decrease in strength compared to doing the exercise on a bench. And a study from Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) found that when athletes performed squats on instability discs, they had less force production and muscle activity of the quadriceps compared to when they did squats on firm ground. Since any marked increase in strength or muscle mass is going to come through moving progressively heavier weights on key lifts, you might want to avoid exercise balls and instability boards. Plant yourself for better gains.

17. Save cardio for after your weight workout

Researchers from Japan found that when subjects did cardio before weights, their GH response to the weight workout was blunted by about 1,100% compared to when they lifted first and ended with cardio. Try to do your cardio either after weights or on a different day.

18. Use wrist straps for your pulling exercises

A study conducted at the Weider Research Group found that when trained bodybuilders performed a back workout while using wrist straps, they completed an average of 1-2 more reps per set for all sets of all exercises in the routine.

Pages
Comments