8 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Workouts

by James Kerrison on June 22, 2009

Following on from the success of the post 8 More Ways To Instantly Improve Your Eating, here is the workout version. Too often we get caught up focusing on minutia instead of getting the basics right. If we take the back basics approach, more often that no there is a lot to gain. Enough rambling, lets get to it.

  1. Stand Up. If you can do an exercise standing then….do it standing. We sit down way too much these days so the last thing you want to be doing when you are trying to improve your health, fitness and physique is to be exacerbating an existing problem.
  2. Avoid Machines. The most advanced machine known to man is, well, man itself. (Perhaps I should have said the human, but I didn’t!) Body weight exercises, free weights and other forms of resistance such as kettlebells, sand bags, resistance bands will get the job done. The only ‘machine’ worth using is an adjustable cable. If you don’t know how to exercise safely and effectively without machines get someone (ideally me…or at least someone qualified to do so) to show you what to do.
  3. Work the whole body. Yes guys, there are muscles on the back of your body. A full body workout isn’t just chest, arms and abs! Your strength in general will increase if you can squat or deadlift more weight. Strengthen your butt and hammies and you will be able to run better and fill out your jeans at the back. Increase the weight you can row, or the number of chin ups you can do and all of a sudden your bench press increases. Get to it and work the muscles you can’t see in the mirror.
  4. Go unilateral to save your back. Huh? Uni what? Think single leg exercises. Step ups, lunge variations and single leg deadlifts. These will work your legs just as much as the bilateral versions (two legs) but because you aren’t using as much weight you will decrease the amount of stress on your spine.
  5. Get up (and down). One of the best ways to get your heart rate up is to get your body moving vertically. Think about it this way. Star climbing, jumping, hill running. All of that is seriously hard work. If you want to keep the intensity up in your workouts, either throw in some sort of jumping exercise (jumping, skipping, burpees) or alternate between floor exercises and standing exercises. This little trick will send your body into a calorie burning frenzy!
  6. Weights first, cardio last. If you are doing any sort of cardio, metabolic or conditioning work make sure you leave it to the end. The reason I suggest this is two fold. First of all you want to be lifting the maximum weight possible for all of your exercises. If you are fatigued from intervals, you won’t be doing this. Secondly, if you are fatigued , physically and mentally (and you should be after some serious conditioning work) then the chance of injury will be higher. Follow this formula. Warm up, weights, intervals -> go home.
  7. Change it up. Whatever you are doing, even the most perfect workout, will have a shelf life. I’d suggest that somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks is the most you should follow the same program for. Even if you are making physical progress you will find that your potential progress might be limited when you get bored with a program. If you really like the program, mix it up, do something different for 3 weeks and come back to it.
  8. Have goals. Last but definitely not least, goals will make or break your success. Have at least one if not many. A goal might be just to workout 3 times per week. It may be to deadlift 210kgs for 5 reps (that’s one of mine right now), or it might be to train consistently for 4 weeks. Whatever the goal is doesn’t matter. If you don’t have one, why are you training?

I could keep going on but I’m sure you’ve had enough listnening to me! Lets have at it. What is your number 1 method to instantly improve your workout?

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