Are you stuck in a rep rut? Looking for ways to spice up your training? Then have a bash at adding these variables into your usual routine:
1. TUT (time under tension) - This is a key element in achieving muscular hypertrophy and there are many different ways of achieving this. Instead of completing a typical 3 sets of 10 reps routine with a 1-2 minute rest period, why not try performing the exercise for 45 seconds on, then 45 seconds off for 5 sets? This will dramatically increase the working muscles time under tension. By decreasing the rest period also, this will increase your heart rate over a longer period of time, meaning more calories are burnt per session; great news if fat loss is also one of your goals.
2. Complex Training - This consists of a traditional strength exercise, immediately followed by a plyometric exercise. The evidence suggests that this type of training results in greater recruitment of Type 2b muscle fibres and in turn, greater improvements in power, which is why it is favoured by many athletes. Try performing 10 x squats with a moderately heavy weight and immediately follow it with 10 x squat jumps or 5 x heavy bench press and 5 x plyometric push ups.
3. Triangle Pyramids - This method is great as it can be used to increase muscular endurance, as well as to enhance size and strength gains. It is a great way to really overload the muscles and create a brutal workout. The idea is to start with a light weight, build up to a heavy weight and back down again with little or no rest in between each set:
• Set 1 - light weight - 15 reps
• Set 2 - light/medium weight - 12 reps
• Set 3 - medium weight - 9 reps
• Set 4 - medium/heavy weight - 6 reps
• Set 5 - heavy weight - 3 reps
• Repeat sets 4-1 in reverse order so you finish on 15 light reps
4. Tabata Intervals - If you are looking to burn fat, then I swear by this kind of high intensity interval training. With as little as 4 minutes work you can really elevate your heart rate and continue burning calories for hours afterwards. You can use this method with or without weights which makes it great to do at home if you are short on time or have no equipment. The Tabata method involves carrying out an exercise for 20 seconds as fast as you can or for as many reps as you can and then resting for 10 seconds, this is repeated for 8 rounds or 4 minutes in total. A good exercise example would be sprinting or squat jumps. Rest for 2-3 minutes and see how many rounds you can perform.
5. Drop Sets - I use these religiously in my training sessions, sometimes on one exercise or for every exercise included in that particular session. The reason I love drop sets so much is because just when you think you've reached the point of failure, you drop some weight and can keep going. This forces the muscles to recruit those stubborn, reserve muscle fibres that wouldn't normally be utilised in a straight set, causing growth that wouldn't normally be achieved after 8-12 reps. I like to do 3-4 drops, so I'll start on a weight that I can usually do 12 reps with and then gradually decrease the weight until on the last set I can hit 20-30 reps and really burn out the muscle.
Let me know how you get on by getting in touch on:
Facebook: Natasha Gilson - PT & Bikini Athlete
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