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10 Tips to Make Your Workout More Challenging & Effective

You will not see results if your workouts are not challenging and intense. However, this article is not about explaining why you should increase your workout difficulty level. Instead, you will learn how to push yourself, safely, and earn each and every rep. Get ready to challenge your limits.

#1 | Learn to Train to Failure

This phrase can be highly subjective and is frequently the cause of injury and pain. Often times training to failure means to push for every rep no matter the cost! But that usually ends up in pain and misery. "Training to failure" should be a fine balance between pushing yourself and remaining injury free.

training to failure is pushing yourself to a point of mental & physical exhaustion but without losing stability through the core OR control of the intended muscle(s) being worked

Knowing which muscles should be worked, understanding and applying core stability, and having awareness and control of your body during exercise are all requirements of safely training to failure. However, we still have to push ourselves to feel stressed, uncomfortable, and exhausted if real progress is every going to be achieved. Again, it is a fine balance.

The remaining tips will help you train to failure more quickly and efficiently.

#2 | Increase Speed & Control Tempo

The speed of which you work through an exercise is the quickest way to train to failure. The faster you move, the quicker you will reach fatigue. However, this can also be the quickest way to hurting your back or tearing a muscle.

When increasing the speed of an exercise you are decreasing the tempo of three different phases.

  • Eccentric | down phase

  • Isometric | pause phase

  • Concentric | up phase

This can also be defined as...

  • elongated or lowering the muscle (negatives)

  • holding the muscle without movement

  • contracting or shortening the muscle

Control each phase of an exercise and DO NOT lose control of the intended muscle(s) being worked or stability through the core. You will significantly decrease your risk of injury while increasing your capacity for performance.

Watch this video for an in-depth look at what tempo is and how you can use it to challenge your workouts.

#3 | Increase Rep Count

Start small with 1-2 reps per exercise. Evaluate how your body feels in the next 24-48 hours post workout. During the following workouts continue to increase the rep count 1-2 reps (or more if not feeling challenged). If you are reaching 20+ reps for an exercise it is recommended to change other variables (such as resistance & tempo) before adding anymore additional reps. However, it does help to know the proper rep range for training different systems of the body...

  • Endurance | 12-20 reps

  • Hypertrophy | 8-12 reps

  • Strength | 3-8 reps

  • Power | 1-3 reps

Please note that each system also has to consider rest time to be effective. For example, when focusing on strength (and training to failure) it is recommended to rest at least 60 seconds before the next set. For endurance exercises the rest time is cut down to 30 seconds or less.

Keep a record of your rep count for each exercise and the resistance used, if any. This way you can consistently challenge your rep count from a previous workout.

#4 |Increase Resistance