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10 Ways to Improve Your Workouts

What is often missing from workout routines is a critical ingredient:
A way for you to progress the workouts.

Today, will list 10 ways you can improve your workouts: 5 from a cardio perspective and 5 from a strength/toning perspective. If you put these methods to work, you can see some very good results, but, and this is key, only if you’re trying to improve, month after month.

The goal should be for you to get better, week after week, with every 4th to 6th week, as a “recovery week” where you’re maybe doing a bit less weight, or you cut back on the volume. In this way, you go hard, continue to improve, recover for a week, and then get back to improving. Slowly and surely, over time, you should feel and see the fruits of that progress.​

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Cardio Workouts:

1. You can go a certain distance and then every time, try to beat your initial time
So for example, let’s say next month, you’re going to work on your Rowing Machine. Nothing too crazy, but you’re going to do a 10-minute incline walk, 1000 meter Row and then another 10-minute incline walk.

The first workout, you do the 1000 meter row, you end up completing it in 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Every subsequent workout for the next month, you would be to try and beat that time. The second time you might finish in 4 minutes and 25 seconds. The third time, 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

The hope is that by the end of the month, you might be to try to get 1000 meters in under 4 minutes. Then your fourth week, you simply just walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes at a slight incline and don’t do any rowing. The following month, start over with the rowing machine or pick another machine to give yourself a new challenge.

2. You try to burn more calories at an allotted amount of time

I have an AirDyne bike where the workout is intense and in which I don’t ride for more than 10-minute blocks of time. On this machine though, 10-minutes can feel like an hour, especially if you’re trying to burn more calories each time.

With this example, say the first time I workout, I burn a 140 calories in 10 minutes. The next few workouts would be to try and increase the calories to something like 145 and then 150, 155, 160, etc. After a few weeks, I can do an easier week where the goal would be to simply try and get 120 calories for the 10 minutes.

3. You can go for more time or distance overall
This one is self-explanatory, but simply going for a longer time or going further are other ways to ensure you’re improving with your workouts.

4. If you get really fancy, you can try and do the same workout while having a lower overall heart rate
Obviously this would require a heart rate monitor or a way to track your heart rate, but it’s another variable that might help you to get better at cardio.

5. You can do cardio more often
Again, this one is somewhat self-explanatory.  Week one, do one cardio workout, week 2, two cardio workouts, week 3, three cardio workouts and week 4, do nothing but go for a long 3 hour hike and at least 20 minutes of walking per day.

This method is best combined with one of the other methods above.

5 Ways You Can Improve Your Strength Training or Toning Workouts

1. Increase the weights you use

If you can do more than 20 reps with good form, then you’re using a weight that’s too light. Increase the weights by 2.5 or 5 pounds on each side. You should do this, even if, at the beginning, you can’t complete all of the reps. The heavier weight will be better than using a weight that’s too light.

2. Increase the reps
If you don’t have access to higher weights, start with increasing the reps. If your workouts become too easy, increase the reps by 2-5 reps per exercise. 2 reps if it’s for a single arm or legged movement (think reverse lunges) and 2-5 for a bi-lateral movement (think squats).

3. Keep Constant Tension on the Muscle
Some people take small breaks in between every rep. This is like doing 10 sets of 1 with a 3 second break in between. If you’re doing a heavy set of squats or a comparable exercise, then that technique can make sense. If you’re not though then you will want to try and make sure that the set is continuous, where constant tension is on the muscle and you will make the exercise much harder.

4. Increase the Volume
Volume is how many sets you are doing. So instead of doing 2 sets, increase it to three sets. Instead of 3 sets, increase it to 4 sets, etc. This only works if you have enough time.

5. Decrease the amount of time you give yourself during sets and groups of exercises
If there are 2 exercises in a group, then you want to flow into each exercise as quickly as possible. If you’re taking over 30 seconds to go from one exercise to the next, then you’re taking too much time. The quicker you can flow between each exercise, the more effective your workouts will be.

On the other hand, the amount of rest in between rounds can vary from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. To make your workouts harder, you can decrease your rest time, while ensuring that you’re not sacrificing form.

A simple way to see if your routines are moving faster is to simply record the time of when you started your workout and when you finished your last set. Then in subsequent attempts, try to beat that time.

Summing Up

There are many ways to continually improve your workouts, and therefore, the potential to see the results you desire. There are many other methods not listed that you can also use, from longer circuits, to double/rest pause, cluster sets, drop sets, tri-sets, etc but those techniques are special ones whereas the ones listed here are the foundational techniques.

No matter what you choose to do though, remember, as long as you’re trying to improve, you will make more progress than simply doing the same thing day in and day out.