Ever feel bored in the gym? I used to as well before I became a coach and realized the unending possibilities of things to do in the gym that will help reach goals. Increasing workout intensity also doesn’t mean just adding weight to the set.
It’s interesting that there are so many ladies that come to me saying that their workout routine is boring and they need some major help to spice it up to be able to reach their goals.
In fact, I have a brand new client starting tonight, as I’m writing this that told me, I come into the gym and all I can think to do is the basic bicep curl or a few machines and then I go home.
“I need help and need results!”
In her free consult, we talked about the unending possibilities of what we can do together to work towards her fitness goals. We talked about things like, we won’t always just add weight to the movement, we will mix things up and make things interesting.
The possibilities to increase your workout intensity and to make your workouts not boring are endless, but lets look at 4 right now, shall we?
Increasing Workout Intensity Tip#1 – Increase reps
Let’s take an example of a bicep curl as that one is a universally known exercise. In this example, we will say that you have been doing 4 sets with 8 reps with 8 pound dumbbells.
You have found that over the past few weeks, you get to 8 reps without as much effort as you used to.
Instead of simply bumping up the dumbbells to 9 or 10 pound weights, increase the reps first.
This means that you could do 4 rounds of 10 instead of 4 rounds of 8. If that is still to easy, then try for 3 or 4 rounds of twelve.
Now, as you’re increasing the reps, be careful that you don’t overdo.
Because sometimes you may bump it up from 8 reps to 12 reps and still feel okay. That’s when you wait it out a few days after and see how you feel.
Because sometimes we will feel that something is easy and then it will hit us later that we over did it.
It’s like those drinks that are super yummy and you can’t even tell they have alcohol in them? Yep. Those are the ones that will hit you the hardest later.
Same goes with this. Don’t increase too much at once because you don’t want it to come back and bite you later where you feel like you can’t walk or wash your hair.
This guy’s leg day was obviously killer.
Increasing Workout Intensity Tip # 2 – Adjusting positioning
Now, before I go into this, it is really important that you don’t just make stuff up in the gym. That is where we get those viral videos that you see on Facebook or Instagram of people that hurt themselves.
Unless you have had training of human anatomy and how muscles work and which ones work together and which ones work opposite of each other, please do NOT make up exercises.
Take the below picture of me doing a lat pull down. You’ll notice that the bar is not the normal hands forward wide grip pull down.
I have put on an inward facing grip bar as well as leaned back just a bit.
Here’s another way that I mean by adjusting positioning
Let’s say that you are doing a glute bridge. Where you’re lying flat on your back and you’re pushing down through your legs and lifting your butt up off of the floor.
Those are getting too easy and you’ve already increased reps to let’s say… 20. And they’re still feeling too easy.
This is where we can adjust the positioning of the feet to increase intensity.
A few examples of adjusting the positioning of the feet:
- Bringing the feet closer together to where they’re touching
- Lifting one foot off of the ground and only having one foot to stabilize during the movement
- Placing a band around the legs right above the knee and pressing out against the band during the movement
- Putting the soles of your feet together then lifting your butt off of the floor (affectionately known as ‘frogs’)
- Placing a barbell over the hips for a normal bridge and lifting off of the floor
…As you can see,
The list is quite literally endless of the different positions that can be adjusted just for one movement to increase the intensity of that movement.
Note – for this one, if you are doing 20 reps of a movement, and you decide to increase the intensity by adjusting feet position, etc. I recommend going back down in reps to make sure that form is solid.
Remember, we’re not here to hurt ourselves, mama!
Increasing Workout Intensity Tip # 3 – Decreasing Rest Time between sets
Now, we know how much I preach proper rest in between your workouts, right?
Rest is just as important as the workouts.
During the workouts though, a way to increase the intensity is to decrease the amount of rest between your sets.
A formula that I like to use with my clients using this method is a 40 on 20 off method for 4-5 rounds and then let them rest several minutes. Maybe 3-5 minutes because it is so intense.
During the 40 seconds I give my clients a weight that I know they can move thoughtfully and purposefully the entire 40 seconds. If that is 5 pound dumbbells, then it is five pound dumbbells.
We are working to fatigue the muscles we are targeting.
I then will time them for 40 seconds while they do the movement and cue them to rest and time the 20 seconds of rest, then cue them to begin again.
We will repeat this for 4-5 rounds and will then rest for 3-5 minutes.
This is not a method that should be done every time you go to the gym. This is a method that can be used a few times a month or so and should be done thoughtfully.
Another version of timed work and rest is Tabata workouts which you can read about here.
More is not always better, mama.
Just remember that! Sometimes less IS more.
Which is the case in this method. A few of these per month is what I like to do with my clients as they progress through their programs.
Increasing Workout Intensity Tip #4 – Using different types of sets
There’s a lot of buzz words in the fitness industry such as drop sets, pre-exhaustion method, super sets, etc.
These types of sets are great for increasing intensity in workouts. Let’s take a second to define some of these buzz words.
Drop Sets –
This type of set is very intense and really should only be used for intermediate and above level and should only be used a few times per month.
This is where you will do one set at a heavier weight, then after that set, go right into the next set on the same exercise but with a lower weight and keep going until failure or almost failure
Leg extension machine- 8 reps at 50 pounds, then right into 8 reps at 40 pounds, then 8 reps at 30 pounds, etc. until failure/almost failure
Pre-exhaustion method –
Gor this you’ll be using an isolation movement in a specific muscle group and will then go right into a compound movement for the same muscle/muscle group.
Typically this method is at a higher rep range for the isolated movement, and lower rep range for the compound movement
Leg ext machine for 12 amount of reps, then right into back squat on SMITH machine for 8 reps
Super Sets –
Are sets of two different exercises for the same OR different muscle group back to back before a rest
Incline reverse flight for 10 reps, dumbbell squat taps for 10 reps then rest.
This just scratches the surface on the ways that you can create more intensity in your workouts, mama.
Here’s the big take away from all of this..
It’s that you do not have to just keep going up in weight doing the same exercise over and over.
This is your chance to mix up your workouts.
You can do a drop set followed by a super set after a little bit of a rest.
The possibilities are quite literally endless which means there no reason to be bored at the gym or to not see results in the direction you’re looking to go.
One more big thing –
Be careful when you intensify your workouts. Remember what I said about those fruity drinks that taste like there’s nothing in them? Yeah, sometimes these different ways of doing things can be just like that.
You may not feel the intensity at that exact moement (and sometimes you will!) but that doesn’t mean it’s not working.
Just like when we plant a seed we don’t expect to see a flower in full bloom the very next day.
Of course not! These things take time, effort and commitment.