Your body is THE master adapter. When exposed to stress, it will do its best to adapt to that stress so that when it encounters it again, it can cope more readily! However, after several bouts of the same stress, your body has no reason to adapt any further. By periodically changing up your workouts, you will be able to see the changes in your body!
Change your lifting tempo
The speed at which you lift and lower your weights has a big effect on muscle recruitment. If you slow down, you’ll increase time under tension and make your sets harder. In contrast, if you lift more explosively, you’ll recruit more Type 2b Fast Twitch muscle fibres. Use both options to change your workout without the need to change the exercises, e.g. speed up for squats and bench presses, but slow down for leg extensions/leg curls and dumbbell flyes.
Change the order of your exercises
Turn your workout on its head, doing your last exercise first and your first exercise last. This will mean you’ll have more energy for exercises that you normally do when tired and less energy for those exercises you normally perform when fresh. This will change the entire feel of your workout!
Do your workout as a circuit
Instead of doing several sets of each exercise before moving onto the next one, do one set of each exercise as a circuit. Rest no more than 20-30 seconds between exercises and around 1-2 minutes between laps. This will add a cardiovascular element to your workout!
Shorten your rest periods
If you aren’t timing your rest periods, it’s time you started! Your rests should reflect your training goals. Longer rests are best for heavy strength training, short rests are ideal for developing muscular endurance, and training for muscle size falls somewhere in between. Whatever your goal, slightly shorter rest periods will make your workouts more demanding. Take 5-10 seconds off per rest period per workout and notice how much that changes your routine - both mentally and physically!
Change your stance
Simply moving your hands or feet in or out can change the entire feel of an exercise. For example, a wide grip lat pulldown will engage your lats more so than a narrow grip, which will activate more biceps. Same goes for squats and deadlifts! Change your grip or stance to shake up your workout!
Adjusting the bench angle
If your workout involves using an exercise bench, you can change the effect and feel of your exercises by adjusting the angle. For example, a bench row barbell workout! Whatever angle you usually use, try using a different one to shake up your workout.
Use one limb at a time
Single limb or unilateral exercises allow you to identify and fix left-to-right strength imbalances. They also develop better balance and improve core stability. Most exercises can be done using one limb at a time. Instead of using barbells or machines, make the switch to dumbbells and cables. You’ll not only provide your muscles with some much-needed variety, you’ll also improve your balance and core strength.
HIT is short for High Intensity Training. This workout method involves doing just one set per exercise. However, that set is taken to absolute muscular failure, and can also involve workout intensifying methods such as drop sets and forced reps. One set might not sound like enough but if you really go for it, that one set should be all you need.
Try the 40 rep method
Bored of doing sets all the time? Try this instead: complete 40 reps with the same weight in as few sets as possible. Take each set to failure, rest for a very brief moment, and then continue.
Most programs have an effective shelf life of 4-8 weeks. After this time, they tend to lose effectiveness.
Are you still looking for ways to spice up your old fitness routine? Make sure you check out my training plans!