A few days ago we talked about how to modify a workout, or parts of a workout in the form of a regression — that is, how to “take it down a notch”. There are many reasons you may want/need to do this. But what if you’ve got the opposite issue? What do you do when you think you need the workout to challenge you more?
There are many ways to introduce a progression. Today we’ll talk about the most common ways we amp up the types of workouts we do. In general (and as usual, let common sense be your guide .. many of these are just intuitive!), here are few strategies we employ:
- Increase intensity/speed. This applies to many exercises but the key point here is to maintain excellent form. Speed+Bad Form=Recipe for Injury
- Slow Down. I know, kinda flies in the face of the first one, but consider an example. Let’s say you are doing a standard pushup. Try a tempo of a 1 count UP, but lower with a 5 count and then pause at the bottom.
- Add Weight. For any weighted exercise (not just standard lifts!), adding weight immediately makes things harder to do. Even something simple like using hand weights for some air sparring can be challenging when you add weight Kettlebells are a great example here as well. When I first started with the bells, I had a 25 lb bell that seemed, well, heavy. As you hone your form while you get stronger, you quickly find that you outgrow the weight. I now routinely use bells 45 lbs and up.
- Add a Plyometric Element. This typically applies to exercises that you’ve modified a bit by turn a jump into a step or a reach. Bring back the jump .. jump farther or higher
- Do Chains and Complexes. Now, I don’t mean wrap heavy chains around you body (but you can do that too!), but rather, string sequences of movements together and try to do quality rounds in a fixed amount of time. Benchmark it. Try it again another time and try to do more in the same fixed amount of time. We often talk about kettlebell chains and complexes. The only real difference (they are both a sequence of movements) is that a chain might have you changing bell weights or otherwise putting it down, where a complex has you maintaining control of the bell(s) for the entire round.
- Add On. A simple way of saying that often, we’ll take different movements and combine them to increase the intensity. A common example is the bodyweight squat. In and of itself, it can be challenging, but adding a front kick when you come vertical can make it a quite different exercise!
- Change the Position/Movement Pattern. Easiest to explain with a couple examples. The mountain climber. Pretty basic, and if you speed it up, pretty intense. Now, change the leg movement to go to the outside toward elbow (or across to opposite elbow) and voila, you’ve got a whole new animal. Pushups are another great example here. Change where your hands are … close together, far apart, one normal, one wide, etc. Each variation becomes a new challenge.
- Accentuate the Negative. This is the one place in life I’ll recommend that statement. By negative, I mean the negative part of the rep. Works with many lifts, but best typified by the old standard, the pull up …. go up normally, but then back down (the negative phase of the motion) very slowly. This is one of the tried and true muscle building tricks which often gets overlooked.
There are countless other tweaks you can do to make your session more challenging. As our classes tend to span both an age and fitness level range, we encourage folks to adapt. The workouts are generally programmed on the “high side of middle” … leaving you room to either ratchet it back .. or amp it up!
Questions .. drop me a note below….