Monday, November 26, 2007

Turn up the H.E.A.T.! 4 Ways to Intensify Your Workouts!

Higher reps!

Increasing your repetitions is one of the many ways to get more from your workouts. As some of your muscle fibers get tired with the first few reps, your body must continually recruit more and more fibers the more repetitions of an exercise you do. Some suggestions:

- Really work the muscle to failure, not just to the point where it's kind of unpleasant to lift the weight again. Failure means that you CANNOT move the weight, despite you best effort!

- Super-set a smaller muscle group immediately after a large group in at the end of your workouts. For instance, sometimes I'll do a dumbbell chest press and then move directly into kickbacks.

- If it really starts to burn too much or you have an achy joint. Stop for a few seconds and then finish five more reps.

Expect to advance and succeed. Research shows that optimism and visualization of success significantly improve athletic performance; this is something I practiced before I even realized research was done on such topics!

- Don't settle for little weights; you are strong and can do more, even if it's only 2.5 or 5 lbs more! Certain parts of your muscle will never be challenged if you don't take the weight up every so often! This will mean fewer reps and more rest between sets on you heavy lifting days!

- Choose to go up in weight and actually see yourself effortlessly cranking out 10 reps-- see it and then DO IT!

Attention--pay attention to the muscles that you are working! I see way too many ballistic lower back exercises disguised as bicep curls in the gym! What muscle are you working? Are you getting a full range of motion?

- Close your eyes, ignore the hottie next to you and your own reflection, and actually feel which muscle you are working!

- Most muscle damage is done on the way down (eccentric); the rep is not finished until you reach the bottom, so keep the weight controlled and focus on the movement until your weights are in the starting position again!

- How is your range of motion? For example, on bicep curls (easy target) are your arms fully extended at the beginning or is there still an angle in your arm? Do you reach a full contraction at the top; do you extend all the way down again?

Time between sets. Reducing the time between sets is another highly effective may to intensify workouts!

- Actually time how long you are taking between sets; reduce that amount of time by 30 second or a minute when you want to intensify your workout!

- Do not get into conversations when you are working out; it's okay to be a little cold. During your workout, it's down to business!

In essence, you can intensify your workouts by adding 1) more reps (or overall volume); 2) heavier weights; 3) and reducing time between sets. But none of these strategies will help if the exercises are not performed effectively!

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