If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a rut during a typical workout at the gym, it’s time to try new ways to keep your sessions interesting. Instead of spending 10 minutes texting or finding a new song on your phone, challenge yourself to ramp up the volume of your workouts by adding activities in your rest periods! Regardless of your fitness level, here are three ways you can do to spice up your usual routine (and get other benefits at the same time):
1) Dynamic stretching before weighted movements
Whether you plan on using heavier weight on machines and free weight, go on cardio machines for half an hour, or hold intense yoga poses for a whole minute, it’s always good to prime your body for the movement you’re about to do. This way you’ll get your muscles firing on all cylinders, be flexible enough for the range of motion required for the exercise and prevent injuries. If you’re not sure which exercises to use, think of the muscle groups or the movement of the exercise, and do the body weight or low resistance versions, like doing 10 air squats before your set of barbell squats.
Another example is using resistance bands to warm up your shoulder and elbow joints before bench presses, pull-ups and other pushing and pulling exercises. Ensure that the bands you use are the narrower, thinner kind with low tension. If you're struggling to stretch the band to do the full range of motion, it's too thick!
It’s also important to keep the static stretching – stretches that involve holding the pose for a few seconds - to a minimum before a workout! This type of stretching relaxes your muscles, making it counter-intuitive for your body if you plan to perform strenuous activity.
2) Low intensity cardio
This might be tricky if your gym is always packed, but if you can leave your station without someone stealing it ten seconds after you leave, you can burn some extra calories while “resting” (active rest!) for your next exercise just by walking briskly around the gym. You don’t even have to hop on the treadmill to do this. The key is to build a habit of constant movement – even simple activities like walking has many health benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. To add some challenge to this activity, go up or down a flight of stairs inside your gym after your sets.
A body in motion tends to stays in motion. After all, why are you going to the gym if not to get healthier?
3) Equipment clean-up
This one is great in so many ways, and often overlooked. Maybe you’ve started your session with 35 pound plates, dumbbells and other various gym equipment scattered all over the place. Well, walking around the weight room while carrying weighted things to is a workout in itself! Picking up equipment and putting them back in place is a simple yet effective way to build up functional strength – real-life strength you can apply on a day-to-day basis, and the short walks in between cleaning up the area can be considered a conditioning drill on its own. Make it a habit and you will notice that carrying groceries to your car and lifting furniture at home while you vacuum will be noticeably easier. You might also make new friends in your gym’s personal trainers when you do this enough times.
In conclusion, you’re not limited to these methods. There are about a thousand gym routines out there so stick to what will meet your goals, but don’t forget to keep it interesting to make sure you do your workouts consistently.