Are you regularly strength training but not seeing the results you're after? Step it up a notch (and save time) by incorporating these techniques when you hit the weight room.
- Explore all equipment: To effectively sculpt muscles, you need to work them in different ways. If you're married to dumbbells and avoid the machines because you're not sure which one strengthens your butt or your biceps, your muscles will quickly learn how to handle the tasks at hand and will hit a plateau. Don't be shy: ask one of the gym employees to give you a quick tutorial. If you're looking for a more thorough explanation of what kinds of exercises you can do using new equipment such as kettlebells, yoga balls, or medicine balls, hire a personal trainer. A trainer can assist in helping you reach specific goals — like looking great in that strapless dress! When incorporating different types of equipment, you'll quickly notice it in your strength, your clothes, and in the mirror.
- Go stronger: Increase the amount of weight you're lifting so you can do less reps and fatigue your muscles faster. Grab three different-sized dumbbells before you begin your routine and use heavier weights for stronger muscles. In general, you know you're lifting the right-sized weight when muscles fatigue after 8-12 reps.
Keep reading for more ways to maximize your time in the weight room.
- Go longer: When it comes to strength training moves that use your own body weight (think push-ups, squats, and lunges), repeating each exercise for the same number of reps day in and day out is a bad habit. Although it makes your life easier counting to 20 lunges or triceps dips every time you work out, there's no one-size fits all approach to the number of reps you should do. What's more important is stopping after your muscles fatigue — whatever number that is. As you progress and become stronger, you'll find your muscles can handle more reps, or even an extra set, so go ahead and push yourself to do a few extra squats — your bikini bottoms will thank you. Also remember to mix up the order of your exercises and don't rush through reps since using momentum means you're not using your muscles.
- Rest later: Keep your muscles engaged by moving from one exercise right into the other, skipping the short rest period in between. You'll have time to rest at the end of your session.
- Work more than one muscle: Crunches are an effective move for your abs, and push-ups work your upper body, so why not save time by doing plank to work both areas simultaneously? Doing moves that work two or more muscle groups at a time means you can leave the gym a little early.