Does this sound familiar? Total body routine three days a week. Three sets of 8-12 reps. Not much variation in weight, types of exercises, or equipment used. Repeat for months (or sometimes years). Hit a plateau and stop seeing results. Get bored and quit.
Doing the same old routine may be familiar and comfortable, but it doesn't improve fitness. The human body is lazy, and, once it becomes used to a movement, it will find a way to perform the movement more efficiently so that it uses less energy. That means you don't burn as many calories and your muscles are no longer challenged, so strength stagnates. To combat this, ask one of our exercise specialists to show you how to incorporate these methods into your workout.
Run the rack/drop sets: This is a great finisher for the end of your workout. Select an exercise (example: bent over row) and start with the heaviest weight you can handle with proper form (example: 55 pounds). Perform the exercise with the heavy weight until you can't do another rep. Put that weight back on the rack and pick up the next lighter weight (in this case, 50 pounds). Continue until you have reached the end of the rack. Your muscles won't know what hit them!
Push/Pull training: Here's a simple but effective training protocol. On day one work your pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps). On day two, work your pulling muscles (back, biceps, abs). Day three you work legs (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, thighs). Repeat the sequence on days four, five, and six. This is an easy way to split up your routine if you are short on time but still want a good workout.
Isolation training: Concentrate on one muscle group a day, a classic bodybuilding technique. An example would be a chest day. You would only do exercises that hit the chest (bench press, cable flys, incline dumbbell press, narrow and wide grip chest press, etc.). When done correctly, gains will be the result. This type of training can be intense, so ask for help developing a program utilizing this method.
Eccentric training: Put more effort in the eccentric phase of an exercise. Take longer to lower the weight, causing you to fight against gravity. As an example, take two seconds to lift the weight and six seconds to lower it. The change may seem minor, but you will definitely feel it the next day. One of our specialists can watch to make sure you are doing it properly.
Superset: With this, you perform two exercises, one right after the other (example: 10 shoulder presses followed immediately by 10 squats). One body part rests while the other works. Supersets give you little rest, resulting in a bigger calorie burn and less time in the gym.
Hopefully, this sparked some ideas for adding flair to your weight training routine and inspired you to try something outside your comfort zone periodically.