Every so often it is great to switch up your workout routine, to keep things interesting and also to help you reach your goals. There are so many different things you can try to make changes to your exercise, however these three things are really simple changes that could help to completely change your performance!
Do Drop Sets
Drop sets are a fantastic method of resistance training where you start on the heaviest weight you can lift, do a set amount of reps, and gradually reduce the weight. For example, on the leg press machine you might start by doing 5 reps on 100kg, then take the weight down to 90kg and do 5 reps, then 80kg and do 5 reps, and so on. You would continue to do this until you get to around 20kg. The idea is that you don’t take a break between the sets, apart from changing the weight. This could also work with cardio, for example start with a fast sprint for one minute, then reduce the speed to do a fast run for a minute, then reduce it more for a steady run and continue until you are walking.
If your goal is to increase muscle and muscular endurance, this is a great method. You are forcing your muscles to work as hard as they can. When you are starting out, do just one drop set per machine, then work your way up to 2 or maybe even 3. Just make sure you take a decent break if you are doing more than one full drop set. You could also experiment with increasing reps rather than the amount of drop sets you do.
This method is easiest when you are using weight machines as all you need to do is quickly move the pin, however it is possible to do it with dumbbells or barbells if you are working with a partner who can help with adding weights.
Introduce New Exercises
If you stick to the same exercises every week, you will be working exactly the same muscles which will mean you are likely to plateau at some point. Mixing up your workout routine by introducing new exercises will ensure you are targeting a wider range of muscles. This could be a new weighted chest exercise or perhaps a cardio exercise like skipping or sprinting.
For example, you might have a list of all the leg exercises you do in your phone. Each week on leg day, pick a good variety of exercises that cover different muscle groups and try to make sure they are different to the week before. You could also have two different full leg day routines that you alternate each week to ensure you can track progression. Then, once a month, review your exercises and swap a couple out to put your muscles to the test.
For those of you who mostly do cardiovascular training, putting your body to the test with a different form of cardio can be really useful to help with progression and to aid recovery. You could try cycling, skipping or swimming for example, to support your running and improve your overall fitness.
Not only will the introduction of new exercises be better for your overall strength or cardiovascular fitness, but you are likely to work harder as your workout will be much more interesting.
Increase Protein, Carbohydrate and Nutrient Intake
Your diet is essential for success when working out, as it is so important for you to fuel your body properly in order to perform at your best and recover to prevent injury.
No matter what exercise you are doing, protein is essential to help promote muscle repair and to ease muscle soreness after working out. As exercise is essentially breaking the muscle down in order for your body to repair it and for it to grow stronger, you can see that protein is important. Make sure that you consume protein throughout the day when you have worked out in order to help your muscles to grow as well as reducing the chance of injury. When your muscles repair quicker, you will be able to train harder and make more progression.
Carbohydrates are also really important when it comes working out, as they can help your body during both long and high-intensity exercise. Carbs are the body’s main energy source, so when you are exercising a lot, carbohydrates are necessary for effective performance. They also help to support major organs, such as helping the digestive system to function healthily. Around 50% of your diet should be carbohydrates, so make sure you eat plenty of fibre rich fruits and vegetables and whole grain pastas, breads and rice.
It has also been suggested that vitamins are good for workouts, as certain vitamins are important in supporting muscle growth and recovery and they can also assist with energy supplies. Magnesium tablets can help to reduce muscle spasms and to help them relax following a workout. Supplements are an option, or you can track your protein intake relatively easily through your diet!
Change The Days and Time You Train
Changing up the days you train, and how many days you train, is a great way to build your overall fitness. If you usually train 3 days a week, try to push yourself to do four shorter sessions instead to test your muscles. Similarly, if you train 5 days a week, cut one day out and simply train for longer on the four days to build your muscular endurance.
Additionally, changing the time you train could help to transform your workouts. If you usually train in the morning without eating much, try training in the evening. You will have had two or three meals so your body will be full of useful energy that could help you to push your body a bit further. If you like to train in the evenings usually, try a couple of fasted morning workouts each week to see how you feel. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and see how it impacts your workout.
To conclude, switching up your workout routine can do wonders for your fitness. Try drop sets, introducing new exercises and increasing your intake of protein and carbohydrate and see how you progress!