Make Your Workouts Harder Without Adding Weight
This One Fitness Rule Will Change Your Life (and Your Body)
Progressive overload: It’s the technical term for continuously challenging your body and how our muscles get stronger. Most people immediately think about adding weight, but that’s not the only way to get stronger — here are six ways to make your workouts more effective, no heavy loads needed.
You can’t progressively overload without faultless form. If you already lift heavy and you’re trying to get stronger without packing more pounds on the barbell, analyze your technique before doing anything else. If you have faulty movement patterns, fixing them allows you to overcome compensations (like recruiting too much of your lower back during squats) and make every exercise more targeted.
Range of motion
Ever notice how changing an exercise just slightly — like a narrow-grip versus a standard-grip bench press — can make you sore for days? The same premise applies to range of motion. If you aren’t reaching the full range of motion on compound lifts, you aren’t getting the most out of them. For example: A full-depth squat will increase your strength significantly more than a half-depth squat (and you’ll definitely get sore if you’re not used to hitting full depth).
After perfecting form and increasing range of motion, try utilizing tempos. Adding tempos to weightlifting workouts is a proven tactic to increase results. To implement tempos, intentionally slow down your lifts. Tempos can also include pauses and explosiveness, such as in the example above.
This one should be obvious: The more you do something, the better you get at doing it. You can increase volume by manipulating three variables: weight, reps, and sets. Let’s say you can squat 150 pounds for three sets of 10 reps. Instead of attempting 160 pounds for three sets of 10 reps, stay at 150 pounds and do four sets of 10 reps, or three sets of 12 reps. Either way, your total volume increases without adding weight. Even when adding volume, make sure to get a full range of motion on each rep.
People often confuse frequency with volume, but they aren’t the same: Volume is the total load you move for a specific exercise within a workout. Frequency is how often you perform a specific exercise or train a particular body part. For example, if you currently do push-ups once a week, increasing that two two times per week can improve your push-up strength with no other alterations to your routine.
Finally, you can manipulate rest intervals to gain strength and muscular endurance. If you typically rest for two to three minutes between sets, try cutting your rest period down to 90 seconds — guarantee your usual weight for a given lift will feel much heavier.
Consult a Trainer at Your World Gym
Looking for ways to make your workouts more effective? A World Gym personal trainer can help you implement progressive overload to get stronger, even if you don’t want to add more weight to your lifts.