The most popular and most simple way to boost the difficulty of a weighted exercise is to increase the weight. However, because of physical limitations or equipment, it isn’t always possible! There are a few ways around this.
Sometimes heavier weight isn’t available so it’s a good idea to get creative with your workouts and modify movements to get the most out of what you have on hand. Here are some tips to increase the difficulty of your workouts:
1. Get Less Stable
Introducing some form of instability is a good way to increase the difficulty of your exercise. There are many ways to do this, but the idea is you do your usual movement pattern whilst simultaneously challenging your balance. This can be as simple as taking a seated movement and making it a standing movement. Other options would include equipment such as a Bosu or a stability ball or lessening the base of support by making it a single leg or split stance movement.
Instead of a traditional deadlift – try and single leg deadlift.
2. Pulse It Out
Pulses are another way to get a burn without increasing full range reps or adding weight. You can do this at a bottom of the squat and adding in that extra half rep to really burn out the muscle. This can be applied to virtually any weighted or body weighted movement from push-ups to lunges to hip thrusts and more.
3. Play With Tempo
Modifying your tempo is an excellent way progress your exercises. Simply scowling down the eccentric portion of a movement is a great way to build lean muscle. Think about a squat, if you slow down as your lower into your counts and put your muscles under time under tension it gives each more rep a bang for its money. It not only builds strength but builds muscular endurance.
4. Pause and Isometric Movements
Isometrics are when you contract your muscle without actually moving, essentially pausing and tensing your muscles at a certain part of an exercise. This simply makes the exercise more effective and can be a substitute for a traditional rep or weight increase.
When performing reverse flies, try a pause at the top of the movement and squeezing your upper back muscles for a few seconds. Contracting the muscle group focused will guarantee they work harder to keep that weight in the air or holding your arms in a particular position.
5. Take Shorter Breaks
Most people take breaks between sets or circuits when working out on their own. Try cutting your usual rest period to around 30 seconds. Keeping your heart rate up which makes the exercise feel a lot tougher and will burn more calories. It’s a win-win!
If you would like more advice on how you can get more out of your work out, then check out our home workout guide for a routine that has been designed by an expert.