How to Add More Weight to Your Workout
Let’s face it. You could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on home gym equipment . If you’re a passionate fitness enthusiast or athlete, this could be well worth the investment. However, it’s not necessary for the average person looking for ways to mix up their fitness routine to reinvent the wheel. There are many ways to add more weight to your favorite exercises without needing to buy new equipment.
Alternate HIIT and LISS
If you dread cardio, it’s time to switch things up. High intensity interval training is an effective way to boost metabolism and save time by performing cardio exercises at 100% intensity for short bursts with small breaks in-between. Tabata is a popular form with 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for at least four minutes non-stop. While intense, it gets the job done quickly. Conversely, low-intensity, steady-state cardio incorporates non-stop movement at a less intense pace, ideally at a heart rate of around 50-65% of your maximum.
Mix and Match Sets, Reps, and Tempo
The same exercise can be performed with an entirely different outcome when you mix and match three variables: sets, reps, and tempo. During my training at the National Academy of Sports Medicine, we learned how to incorporate the Optimum Performance Training Model, a five-phased system of exercise that walks you through the following stages of fitness in either a progressive or undulated fashion:
- Balance and stabilization
- Muscular Endurance
- Maximal strength
While a certified personal trainer can help you fine-tune this type of training, the key to keep in mind is lower weight = higher repetition and higher weight = lower repetition.
When you add resistance, new muscle growth is promoted, while lower weight with more repetitions encourages endurance. Furthermore, switching up the tempo challenges the muscles in different ways. For instance, instead of a steady-pace bicep curl, lift up quickly and lower the weight slowly, go up and down slowly, etc. By changing these variables from one day to the next, you introduce new types of movement that improve fitness.
Explore Isometric Exercise
Want to increase your ability to hold resistance for longer periods of time or increase muscle stability? Consider incorporating isometric exercises into your routine. Put simply, this is the practice of holding any particular move. Going back to the bicep curl example, lift the weights halfway and hold. You can apply a static hold to just about any of your favorite exercises, and there are many that are isometric in nature like planks.
Turn Everyday Household Items Into Gym Equipment
While buying equipment like adjustable dumbbells can be an effective way to save space and increase exercise variety, there are plenty of things you already have lying around the house that can easily serve as gym equipment.
Instead of hand weights, try:
- Soup cans
- Milk jugs
- Water bottles
Instead of a resistance tube or band, try:
- A towel
- A rope
- An item of clothing
Instead of friction-reducing sliders, try:
- Paper towels
- Paper plates
Instead of a fitness class, try:
- Turning house cleaning into a workout.
For example, a 30-minute workout could be broken down into:
- Ten minutes of vacuum for arms and shoulders
- Ten minutes of cleaning windows from top to bottom for abs, back, and buns
- Ten minutes of gardening, scrubbing the floor, and anything else that requires you to squat for legs
Build Muscle with Drop Sets
If your weight training has become bland, or you just aren’t experiencing a challenge, try drop sets. This is an excellent way to build muscle and add challenge. You’ll need at least three sets of weights whether that be using equipment you already have or by getting creative with household items as discussed above.
Here’s how it works:
- Do as many reps as you can with the heaviest weight.
- Using the middle resistance level, try to perform four or more additional reps.
- Using the lightest weight, try to perform yet another four or more reps.
This routine can be repeated after a break, or you can move onto a drop set of another exercise.
Optimizing Exercise Based on Time of Day
Did you know the time of day you workout can make a difference in the effectiveness of your workout? If you’re not experiencing the success you’d like in your fitness journey, consider the following guidelines:
- Flip on your fat-burning switch, decrease appetite, and improve your circadian rhythm with morning cardio.
- Burn more calories with an afternoon workout.
- Improve muscle gain with evening weight training.
Of course, if your schedule prohibits you from following these tips, it’s always better to workout at any time of day than not at all!