Here are some ways to fast-track results by altering the approach to your workouts:
1. Abs are key!
Regardless of the exercise, start each one by gently drawing your waist in (even better if you can lift your pelvic floor too, see “Love & Core”). Our abdominals spend plenty of time hanging out in the breeze, now’s the time to make ‘em work supporting your posture during the movements and therefore your spine. Plus if you’ve used them correctly during the workout you will have no need to do a heap of crunches at the end.
Well, dur. We use around one third of our lung capacity 90% of the time. Fill your lungs and exhale with the effort of the exercise, e.g. the push up bit of the pushup or the stand up bit of the squat and you will find more power and strength plus you will be using your diaphragm and therefore abs properly.
3. Tune in to the muscles
To me, this is the most important one. Tuesday is chest day and whilst punching out a bunch of bench presses you have one eye on the TV, or you’re chatting away to your mate about whether it is still ok to like Kanye’s music when all of a sudden the set is done and you barely noticed it – sound familiar? A little proactive mind muscle connection can have a profound effect on improving your technique and therefore your results. This will not only force the working muscles to work harder and more effectively, it will also help avoid any unnecessary compensation from other areas.
4. Balance the work
We all have a dominant side. This can be the side of you that wins the standoff when faced with a doughnut. It is also the side of you that will instinctively catch a ball in a particular hand or step off the curb using a specific foot each time. Some of us are very one-sided, ordered and like to stick to the beat. Others of us are a tad more ambidextrous, less linear and like a little more jazz when it comes to music and movement. So, when it comes to exercising try focusing on the wayward arm, or tag along leg, i.e. see how it feels cycling, running or pressing leading out with your non-dominant leg/arm and feel the difference.
5. Mix up the tempo
In order to build muscle, get fitter, faster, stronger or leaner we have to keep the body guessing. Our ability to adapt and adjust is huge and also surprisingly quick. Therefore to keep making gains, variety is key. Adjust your playlist to shuffle so that instead of nutting out 12-15 reps at the same speed, probably around 2 seconds per rep, try slowing down to half the speed, then pause whilst the muscles are under maximum tension and slowing releasing. All of a sudden your workout starts working again. Keep the muscles guessing by mixing it up and they will be forced to adapt and keep growing. If you keep just doing the same old, same old they will take the shortest route there using the least amount of energy and fewest muscle fibres.
6. Re-focus on your goal
If your aim is to get strong, then train and eat to do just that. Don’t suddenly veer off and think running a marathon would be kind of cool and then wonder why your strength gains have stalled. Be specific so you don’t waste time and effort going round in circles. It’s entertaining for those of us watching but know that we’re laughing at you not with you.
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Photo credits: Unsplash, Michael Taggart, Jesus Hurtado, Bryce Glass, Baba Gozum, Clker FreeVectorImages, Paradox 56