Training variables play a crucial role in your fitness journey. Everyone will inadvertently hit a frustrating plateau in their training at one time or another. You’re cruising along for a while, gaining strength, losing fat, and looking better, and then all of a sudden it hits. Suddenly, you find yourself even weaker than before on your lifts, or you find that you’ve gained back a couple of pounds. It happens to everyone.
Breaking Through Plateaus
Most of the time, these fitness plateaus occur because people rarely change their training variables over time. Many people stick to the same types of exercises for the same basic sets, reps, and rest periods with the same boring cardio routine. Well, I hope to open your mind and bring some creativity to your workouts with this article!
There are many ways that you can strategically modify your training variables to ensure that you maximize your fat loss and/or muscle-building response to exercise. Most people only think about changing their sets and reps performed. If they even think about changing their routine at all,.
However, there are other training variables that can dramatically affect your results: changing the order of exercises (sequence), exercise grouping (super-setting, circuit training, tri-sets, etc.), and exercise type (multi-joint or single joint, free-weight or machine-based). The number of exercises per workout, the amount of resistance, the time under tension, the base of stability (standing, seated, on stability ball, one-legged, etc.), the volume of work (sets x reps x distance moved), rest periods between sets, repetition speed, range of motion, exercise angle (inclined, flat, declined, bent over, upright, etc.).
Training Variables Optimization
Training duration per workout and training frequency per week. It sounds like there are a lot of different training aspects to consider to obtain the best results from your workouts, doesn’t it? Well, that’s where a knowledgeable personal trainer can make sense of all of this for you to make sure that your training doesn’t get stale.
Most people stick to workouts where they do something along the lines of 3 sets of 10–12 reps per exercise, with 2-3 minutes of rest between sets. Below are a few examples to get your mind working to come up with more creative and result-producing workouts.
Here are a few examples of different methods to spice up your routine
- Try 10 sets of 3, with only 20 seconds of rest between sets.
- Try using a moderately heavy weight and complete 6 sets of 6 reps, doing a 3-minute treadmill sprint between each weight lifting set.
- Try using a near-maximum weight and do 10 sets of 1 rep, with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
- Try using a lighter-than-normal weight and do 1 set of 50 reps for each exercise.
- Try a workout based on only one full-body exercise, such as barbell cleans and presses or dumbbell squats and presses, and do nothing but that exercise for an intense 20 minutes. With this example, you could try sets of 5 reps at a moderately heavy weight every 2 minutes until you reach 20 minutes.
- Try a workout based on all bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, chin-ups, dips, body weight squats, lunges, step-ups, etc.
- Try a circuit of 12 different exercises covering the entire body without any rest between exercises.
- Try that same 12-exercise circuit on your subsequent workout, but do the entire circuit in reverse order.
- Try your usual exercises at a faster repetition speed on one workout and then at a super-slow speed on your next workout.
- Try completing five 30-minute workouts one week, followed by three 1-hour workouts the next week.
- Try doing drop sets of all of your exercises, where you drop the weight between each set and keep doing repetitions without any rest until complete muscular fatigue (usually about 5–6 sets in a row).
There are many more ways to continue to change your training variables. I hope this article gave you some ideas on methods to take your body to the next level. Keep in mind that no matter what style of training you are using at any given time, progression on subsequent workouts should be your goal. Work hard, train smart, and watch your body change!