1). Training to Failure. While training to failure — lifting until the body can’t do a single more rep — recruits more muscle and triggers the body to release more strength training intervals, it’s most effective if a very high percentage of a one rep max can be performed. You just need to be careful not to over train or injure
2). Super Set. Research suggests lifting in super sets can be just as effective
as normal sets at building strength while adding an additional cardio
component. Or for added punch, do similar body parts — shoulders and shoulders, legs and legs — for a serious burn.
3). Circuit Training. Some gyms are set up to move people from machine to machine or exercise to exercise with little rest. This keeps the heart pumping and the muscles working. Work at each station for 30 to 45 seconds, or a certain number of reps, and keep the rest periods short, just the time it takes to walk from station to station.
You can also do a simple circuit at home, too such as lunges from wall to wall, sit ups in front of the TV, incline push-ups on the coffee table, lateral hops over the sleeping puppy — work hard, move quick, get fit!
4). Tabata Intervals. The great thing about many of these techniques is the time saving aspect, and tabata intervals are definitely time savers. Developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata for Olympic athletes, Tabata protocol is a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) where 20 seconds of work is coupled with 10 seconds of rest then repeated for 8 total rounds. The 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest pattern has been shown to tax both aerobic and anaerobic pathways more — and in less time — than intense exercise with longer rest periods, meaning improved overall cardiovascular fitness. This protocol can be done with running/rowing/swimming, body-weight exercise, or weighted movements.
5). Drop Sets. Drop sets can be performed with any exercise that involves moving weight around, like squats or the bench press. You have performed ten bench presses and couldn’t possibly do eleven. Re-rack the weight and have a partner take off ten pounds or so, then perform as many reps as possible at that new weight. It’s even easier to use dumbbells and simply move to smaller and smaller bells, set to set. Three total drop sets is the norm, do this to infinity and beyond and you may be way too short the next day.
6). Negative Sets. Weight training works with and against gravity. The motion towards the bar in a pull-up is called the “concentric movement,” while heading back towards the ground is an “eccentric movement” or the negative portion of the movement. Resisting the negativity during the pulling porting of the movement taxes the muscles in a different way. At the end of a long set, switch to just performing negatives (with a partner’s help on the way up) or work towards getting those difficult body-weight movements (like a pull up or dip) by only performing the negative of the movement. Sounds easy? Just try it!
Written by Marissa Perreira, Personal Trainer at Ellis Athletic Center in Newtown Square