Are you bored with your workout? It is time to break out of the rut! There are many training methods and variations. So many that you should be able to create a workout plan that keeps you motivated and interested. You may want to add in a few new exercises or maybe revamp your entire plan. Following are several options of how to add spice to your routine.
In a pyramid workout, you will increase and/or decrease your repetitions as you continue through your sets. You can also change your weights as you progress through the sets. An example of a Pyramid:
Set Weight Repetitions
1 40 8
2 30 12
3 20 16
4 30 12
5 40 8
Interval Training is incorporating a Work to Rest ratio. There are so many variations that you can employ when Interval Training. In a cardio routine, you can walk for 1:00 and jog for 2:00 or walk for 2:00, jog for 1:00 and sprint for :20.
High Intensity Interval Training is a more difficult version of interval training. In a HIIT workout, you really want to challenge yourself for about :30 – :40 and then recover or do a lower intensity exercise for about :15 – :20. Think Burpees. Perform :30 of Burpees and then Walk for :15, repeat for desired number of sets.
A Ladder workout is increasing or decreasing repetitions by one each set. For example: Your exercises are Squats, Push-ups, Overhead Press, and Lunges. You will complete 10 reps of each, then 9 reps of each, then 8 reps of each, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 rep of each. You can make that into an ascending Ladder by starting at 1 rep and finishing with 10 reps.
One of my favorites is a Double Ladder workout. I have a great one here.
When lifting weights, changing the tempo of your positive and negative movements can increase the effort needed to complete each repetition. When performing a squat, take four counts to lower and then 2 counts to stand back up. During a biceps curl, lift the weight up for 4 counts and lower for 4 counts. You can vary the tempo in numerous ways.
Runners utilize speed workouts to get faster and improve running times. It is easy to add speed work into cardio workouts. The idea is to push out of your comfort zone and into a faster pace for a time before returning back to your comfortable pace. You can perform timed speed increases by using a stopwatch or watch. With distance speed increases, you can choose a set distance or use landmarks as stopping and starting points.
Drop sets add a new challenge to your weight training workout. Start your chosen exercise with a challenging weight and complete your repetitions. Then, reduce your weight and perform another set of the exercise. The amount of sets depends upon when you reach muscle exhaustion. You can drop your weight by approximately 15% each set, or about 30% for a wide drop or about 5% – 15% for a tight drop.
Create a giant set by choosing four or more exercises for 1 muscle group (ex: Quadriceps) or for opposing muscle groups (ex: Chest and Back.) Perform the exercises with little rest (about :10) between them. After finishing all the exercises in the giant set, take a 1 – 2 minute break before repeating.
Supersets are two exercises paired together that you complete without stopping or resting in between. Supersets are a great way to get more done in less time. An example of a superset workout would be:
1. Chest Press 15 repetitions and Push-ups 15 repetitions
2. Burpees 20 repetitions and Squats 20 repetitions
3. Biceps Curls 15 repetitions and Triceps Kickbacks 15 repetitions
In Circuit training, you will complete one exercise and quickly move to the next until you finish all of the designated exercises for 1 set. After a short rest, you can repeat the circuit. Circuits typically contain exercises for the entire body and also some aerobic exercises. They add variety to a workout and keep the exerciser moving.
It is a good idea to work each side of the body independently. The can be done with dumbbells, resistance bands, cable machines and body weight. Focus on one side by performing a concentration biceps curl or single leg squat. There tend to be differences on each side and when using a bar or two handled machine, your stronger muscles can take over and help complete a movement. Making one side work alone can help to make the muscle stronger and create better movement patterns.
Negative (or eccentric) training should be done with a workout partner/spotter. It is recommended that you choose a weight that is 105% of your 1 rep max. For example, if you squat a max of 200 pounds, your negative training squat amount would be 210 pounds. You would slowly lower into a squat and when you reach the bottom, your spotter would help you stand back to the starting position. Another exercise where negatives are helpful is the pull-up. Have a spotter help you get into pull-up position, with your chin over the bar. From here, slowly lower yourself down and then the spotter will help you return to the top.
Changing the placement of your hands and feet in some exercises can change the muscles that are being used. For instance, on the Leg Press machine, you can start with your feet together and in the center of the platform, then take them wide and a little higher on the platform and change them to parallel. When performing Calf Raises, complete a set with your feet parallel, then feet turned out, then feet turned in. In push-up position, if your hands are wider set at chest level, you will work more into the chest. If you place your hands close to the body and keep the elbows beside the body, you will get more triceps work.
Gripping a bar or dumbbell is another way to change how an exercise affects the muscles. In a Bent Over Row with a barbell, you can grip the bar with your palms down or your palms up. When using dumbbells for the same exercise, you can face your palms down, toward the center or up. In some exercises, like a Deadlift, an alternating grip (where one palm faces up and one palm faces down) can allow a stronger grip for the lifter.
Agility is defined as the ability to move quickly and change directions easily. Agility drills can be added in to any workout. You can use equipment, such as an agility ladder, agility ball, or cones. The idea is to move quickly (have fast feet) and to add in directional changes throughout the drill. You can see some examples of agility exercises here.
Balance worsens as we age and if we don’t practice it, it just continues to decline! It is easy to add balance exercises in to any workout. Standing on one leg for a set amount of time is something we can do anywhere and every day. Mayo Clinic has a few easy to do exercises pictured here. A Stability Ball and a Bosu are great pieces of equipment to utilize for balance training. Here are a few exercises you can perform on each of them.
Flexibility is another skill we lose as we age. You have to stretch to keep your joints and muscles loose and limber. Yoga is a wonderful activity to increase flexibility. I have a short Yoga video available on my YouTube channel here. Also, just adding in stretching at the end of each of your workouts can help. When stretching, it is important to remember to stretch to where you feel a gentle pull or pressure and hold for about 15 – 30 seconds. You should not bounce while stretching or force a muscle past a comfortable pull. Aggressive stretching can cause injury.
Core work is not just doing a bunch of crunches! The Core of the body is defined as your entire torso, or your body minus your arms and legs. It is important to work all of the muscles in the core by doing a variety of exercises. Planks, Superman, and Bridges are good exercises to do. Here are photos of those exercises and a few more. I also have an abdominal workout video on YouTube.
Box Jumps are an example of plyometric exercise. Plyometrics are used to increase speed and power by making the muscles use maximal force in a short time. You can incorporate a few plyometric exercises into your regular routine. Try adding in Squat Jumps where you squat down and jump as high as you can or Box Jumps where you squat down, jump up onto a plyometric box and step off the box.
With the amount of variety of exercises and execution of exercises, your workout does not have to be boring! Creating a workout plan using some of these options can challenge your body and take your training to the next level.