How Do I Mix Up My Weightlifting Workouts?

Knowing how to mix up your weightlifting workout is one of the best ways to take your fitness to the next level. So many people do the exact same routine over and over, which makes your body very efficient at those specific movements. But if you are trying to be a well-rounded athlete, build more muscle and/or burn more calories, mixing up your weightlifting workout is one of the best strategies. In fact, there will come a point where your body will get so good at doing the same exercises again and again, it will use up fewer calories to complete them. Therefore, it becomes essential to mix up your weightlifting routine to avoid plateaus. Here are some simple ways you can mix up your weightlifting workout:   

  1. Change the number of repetitions in a set (or the number of sets). One of the most basic things you can do is simply push yourself to do five to ten more reps. You can also do more reps with lighter weights one day and fewer reps with heavier weights the next day. Generally, the former builds up strength and the latter builds muscle mass. 
  2. Do as many reps as you can for time. Instead of completing a fixed number of repetitions, set a timer to count down from twenty seconds (increase or decrease depending on your fitness level) and do as many reps as you can in that amount of time. Go as fast as you can without sacrificing form.
  3. Change the tempo count at which you lift. Most people do a “1-1” count. For example, on a bench press, one second to push the bar away from you (concentric) and one second to lower it to your body (eccentric). Try changing this to a “1-3” count, one second (or less with an “exploding” action) for the concentric phase and three seconds (or six seconds if you’re more advanced) for the eccentric phase.
  4. Create two workouts and alternate between them. One of the most significant ways to mix up your weightlifting workout is to actually do two (or three) routines. For example, do “Workout Routine A” on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then “Workout Routine B” on Tuesday, Thursday. This gives you the opportunity to exercise a muscle group more thoroughly and also allows your muscle fibers a sufficient amount of time to heal (essential for muscle gain).
  5. Work out different muscle groups on different days. Decide how you want to mix up your weightlifting workouts by muscle group and/or body part. A few examples of how you can break this up are: upper body/lower body, front of your body/back of your body (chest, abs, quads/back, glutes, hamstrings), or back/bicep, legs/abs, and chest/tricep days. This can go along with #4 to coordinate Workout Routine A with upper body and Workout Routine B with lower body, for example. 
  6. Vary what exercises you do for each muscle group. This is probably the most effective way to mix up your weightlifting workout. There are “root” exercises for each main muscle group that can be slightly altered to make a variation of that exercise. A variation exercise will still work the same main muscle, but in a different way and will also work other secondary muscles. For example, a “root” exercise for the chest is bench press—variations include incline and decline bench press. (To give you some reference, during their training, the cast of 300 were never given the same exercise twice—you can vary the exercises you do every two to six weeks depending on preference).   
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