It's always a challenge to keep your workouts exciting. One week will be amazing, the next will be satisfactory. It happens to the best of us. Here are some ways to change up your workout to keep the intensity up, avoid boredom in the gym, and keep those muscles growing.
Change Your Whole Workout
It's surprising how many of us are stuck on the same general workout program for years, the same rep scheme, the same exercises, and worst of all the same minimal gains. One of the easiest ways to get some life into those workouts is to have a complete change. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished. A great idea is to check out the bodybuilding.com workout database.
You can search for specific programs that will fit your schedule, and give you that spark to shock your muscles into growing. Try a number of different things you've never tried before. Hiring a personal trainer can be one of the smartest things you can do to improve your training.
I have to say, there are a lot of under qualified personal trainers working out there, but do some research and pay the money, you will not be disappointed with a fresh new perspective on training. You will be surprised at how well completely changing your workout can work, even if it is just for a short time.
Keep A Workout Log
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Keeping a workout log can be annoying, but by looking back on previous lifts and always striving to one up your previous workout in some way can ensure you are always improving.
Whether it's keeping the same weight but pushing for one more rep, or keeping the same reps but increasing the weights, by knowing what you've done previously you can use that as motivation to constantly improve.
2nd Set Max
Many people use their third set as their heaviest. It is well known that much of the muscle gained is due to the heavy stress the muscle is put under during your heaviest set. It makes sense then to bump your heaviest set up to your second set.
The famous Dorion Yates would do only one quick warm-up set and move right to his heaviest set. This can be a great way to shock your muscles. Typically, when following this protocol, a general warm-up is done (five minutes of stationary bike). This is followed by thoroughly warming up the joints involved in the lift of the day.
At the beginning of the workout, it is best to do approximately 3 sets of a thorough warm up exercise. This is only done at the beginning of the first exercise. After you are thoroughly warmed up, grab a weight (approximately 50% of your max) and push out about 60-70% of failure. For your second set grab a weight (90-100% of your max) and with a spotter, push out your maximum set.
After your second set, rep out at about 80% of your max for as many reps as possible. Continue this protocol throughout your workout and watch the muscles grow.
Try Some New Supplements
It's always great to add a new supplement into your current supplement stack. Do your research though from reliable sources, and pick using good judgment. Some supplements with a lot of scientific research backing their use is Creatine, Caffeine, Glutamine, and Protein powders. Adding something new can give you a 'placebo' affect. Just knowing you spent the money on something you're using can boost your workouts. As always you can find any supplement on bodybuilding.com at the best prices available.
Do One Thing Different Every Workout
You can keep the same general workout program you enjoy and have enjoyed and still add a change. I try to do at least one thing different in every workout. Whether it's a super set, giant set, drop set, or a new exercise at the end of the workout this can help to avoid boredom and constantly put your muscles through something new without making too drastic a change. Try even reducing or increasing your regular rest times. This can increase the intensity or allow for increased maximum lifts respectively.
Use your regular workout routine, but run through it backwards. Start what is normally the last exercise performed and end with what is usually performed first. By doing this your weights will change dramatically, but it is a quick easy way to change up your regular routine and shock your muscles into growing.
Nutrition Is Important
All too often people training to reach specific goals are doing all the right things in the gym, but aren't seeing the gains they should because of improper dieting. Read everything you can on nutrition, but be careful as to who you listen to.
Nutritional theory is constantly changing. I look back at some of the articles I wrote during my first year of university and am the first to admit there is much room for improvement. Make sure the source of information is qualified to give nutritional advice. For the record, I am currently in year four of a double major in Human Nutrition and Human Kinetics.
A registered dietitian (RD) can help anyone overcome their nutritional troubles, and although it may be initially expensive, you need to think of the money you will be saving by no longer wasting money on foods that aren't going to be helping you reach your goals.
Rather than taking your creatine immediately after your workout, try this. Take your serving of creatine for the day and mix it in your water for the day. Drinking this throughout the day has shown to allow more absorption than traditional methods.
In a study at St. Francis Xavier University, subjects had two jugs, one with five grams of creatine mixed into the water, the other empty, used only to collect the urine the subject secreted throughout the day. This was compared to a schedule of consuming the same amount of creatine taken in only two separate doses. The creatinine secreted in the first groups urine was less than that of the second, meaning more creatine was absorbed by using the first method.
Give it a try, but no need for the urine container, just take my word on it.
Try A Short Cutting Phase
It can be frustrating to see minimal results when trying to gain mass. The great thing about cutting up is the results come fairly quickly. Take three or four weeks during your mass building phase and change it up by doing cardio, and eating cleaner to cut up.
Try tanning as well. These result in fairly immediate changes. As well, when you return to your mass gaining protocol you can be ahead of where you left off due to calorie cycling.
This is a simple way to get a great workout in without changing your routine. Try doing one set of each exercise you have planned for the day. Follow this with a second and a third etc. For example, for shoulders you may do one set of shoulder press, followed by a set of dumbbell lateral raises, and finish up with a set of upright rows.
This will be repeated three to four times to finish the workout. What you are doing is hitting the entire muscle equally. In a traditional workout of three sets per exercise before moving on to the next, certain muscles are hit harder than others.
For example when doing a traditional shoulder workout if you hit your anterior deltoids for the first two exercises, your posterior deltoids can tire preventing you from maximizing the potential benefits of working your posterior deltoids at the first of the workout. This technique is one of my favorite ways to change up my workout.
These are just a few of the many ways to spice up your workouts and make them interesting. Let me know if any of you have any questions at all via email, and as always, train hard, and remember...it's not a game.