For most people, we go to the gym to train our bodies and put ourselves through an intense workout in the hope of seeing positive results in the form of improved physical fitness or increased muscle mass.
Getting these results isn’t easy. It takes consistent effort over a period of weeks, a disciplined diet, and an all-around healthy lifestyle. But even if you practice all of these things, sometimes we don’t see any results in the mirror.
Most of the time, this is because you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough at the gym. We get comfortable with what we are doing and forget that we must challenge ourselves and push our bodies to the limit, as that’s where the best results come from.
In this article, we will show you six ways to challenge yourself at the gym so you can get more out of your workouts and start to see results faster than ever before. Let’s get into it.
Increase the intensity each week (progressive overload)
First on our list, and perhaps the most obvious advice, is to increase your workouts’ intensity. You can do this in a wide number of ways, but at the very least, you should be increasing the level of difficulty each and every week you’re training.
As the old saying goes, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”
For our muscles to grow and for our cardiovascular system to improve, we need to achieve something called ‘progressive overload.’
This means continually increasing the musculoskeletal system’s demands over a period of time, which results in gains in muscle size, strength, and endurance. If you don’t, the body gets used to the exercise and its plateaus. In other words, you don’t improve.
Keep a record of your workout. Increase the weight by 1-2% each week. Run a little bit further or a little bit faster than last time, and before long, you’ll start seeing results. Wearing headbands is usually a good idea when progressive overloading as you’re going to be sweating a lot and it helps to keep it out of your face, eyes, and off the equipment.
Slow the exercises down
Next time you go to the gym, take a look around. More often than not, you’ll see people pumping out their sets and reps like they are in a hurry to get home. While it may look impressive, it’s actually a lot easier to throw out the reps as quickly as you can.
If you go slowly, you can put your muscles through the full range of movement, giving each muscle a full and deep workout.
For best results, time your sets, so they last between 30 and 40 seconds. This ensures your muscles are getting a full workout, and you’re getting the max benefit from the set.
Practice proper form
Similarly to the point above, many people in the gym tend to have poor form when it comes to weight lifting and even running.
When you have poor form, you’re putting unnecessary weight and force onto the wrong areas. This is exactly how people get injured, especially when they repeat the same mistakes week after week.
Interestingly, when you do a lift with poor form, it feels easier as you’re not completing a full range of movement, or another part of your body is taking the brunt of the force.
For example, when doing bicep curls, people tend to swing their arms and engage their back and chest muscles. This makes the exercise seem easier than it actually is. For best results, you should practice proper form and isolate the exact muscles you are trying to work. Visualize them in your mind and try not to engage any unnecessary muscles during the set.
Limit rest time
A great way to challenge yourself in the gym is by reducing the amount of rest you have between sets. These days people sit on the bench after doing a set and scroll through Instagram and Facebook for 5 minutes, do another set, and then go back to their phone. This does very little for your muscles, and you’re leaving a lot of gains in the table while doing so.
Before you get to the gym, think about how much rest you need between sets and time it. Be hard on yourself and try and keep it for as long as you can.
Another great way to limit reset time is by adding supersets into your workout. Supersets are basically two exercises done back to back with no rest in between. You pick one weight up, pump out your set, and then immediately move on to the next. This is normally done with the same muscles group or with muscles in a similar area.
Run/cycle to the gym
Finally, if you live close enough to your gym, try and run or cycle there rather than drive. This takes care of your warm-up, and it adds another level of intensity to the session, not to mention the extra calories you burn.
Just one thing, you’re going to have to run/cycle back too, so make sure you save enough energy for that!
Mike Wallman, content marketing manager at Suddora