Here are two small tweaks you can make to get the most out of your fitness time.
You’ve been working out for a while, maybe even a regular at the gym, local trails, or a fixture at your local boutique fitness class (goat yoga, anyone?). Is it starting to feel too comfortable? It might be time to take a closer look at your routine.
Everyone wants to find that perfect balance of bringing the element of fun into a challenging workout, but it’s easy to get content with doing the same thing on repeat. Adaptation is when your body becomes accustomed to your workout, and the result can be that your fitness hits a plateau. Of course, any exercise is always beneficial, but to receive all the great health benefits of a good workout, it may be time to push yourself harder.
Step up the challenge if you see that your heart rate isn’t that high, you’re rarely out of breath, or you are easily finishing your rep count on your lifts.
Of course, you can always introduce a new routine, class, or change up your exercise altogether, but first, start by focusing on these two things.
1. Focus on Form
Actively focusing on the muscles, you seek to engage can be the difference between a killer rep, and a “just ok” rep. When you focus on form, you are less likely to rely on the wrong muscles to get you through an exercise. Poor form means you may not be getting the benefit out of the exercise you intended, and may even lead to pain and/or injury.
As simple as it sounds, there are significant benefits in mentally connecting to your movement. In fact, one study found that by just thinking about engaging the target muscles during an exercise is an excellent strategy to better your form and increase results. The theory is that by visualizing an exercise and the specific muscle movement during exercise, you train the brain to send stronger signals. This translates into more muscle engagement by recruiting additional muscle fibers or by getting muscle fibers to work quicker and more efficiently.
2. Up your weights
Strength training is all about building and maintaining a certain level of strength. If the current weight you are lifting isn’t a challenge, or you feel like you could go on forever, it might be time to consider adding weight to your lifts.
First, start by tracking your workouts and recording your results. Then, mix in some additional reps to targeted exercises. You may see a difference simply by adding rep counts. Of course, the whole point is to “overload” your muscles so they get stronger, so the next step may be adding weight. If your progress is stalled out, it could be that your muscles have grown stronger to meet the demands of the lifts. To make gains, you need a progression plan in your strength training program. Develop a plan where you increase your weights in key areas, and map out a progression plan to strategically add more weight as you get stronger over time.