5 Ways to Take Your Basic Workout Up a Notch

make your workout more difficultYou’ve been on the workout grind, but you’re ready to add an extra challenge without shelling out for a personal trainer or buying a bunch of new fitness equipment. You’re in luck; there are actually some pretty simple techniques you can use to boost the effectiveness of your workouts instantly. Bonus: They help you save time at the gym! Here are five to try during your next workout:

1. Get explosive with your movements. Adding powerful bursts to your strength training movements can help you target more muscles at the same time. “Explosive movements also cause your heart rate to spike, which taxes your cardiovascular system,” says Ruben Belliard, founder of The Training Lab in New York. So how do you do it? It’s all about pushing your body off the ground as part of the movement. Replace bodyweight squats with jumping squats, or instead of normal push-ups, try exploding up from the bottom and attempting to clap your hands together before finishing out the rep.

2. Add intervals to your cardio. Running three miles at a steady pace is fine, but if you want to keep seeing results, speed things up by throwing in some intervals. “You can push yourself harder because you only need to go fast for a little bit,” says Belliard. “Your body isn’t accustomed to going at that pace, so you’ll see more results; improving your heart function and recovering faster between training days.” A good way to do this? Play little games with yourself. “If you see a tree ahead, see how fast you can get to it,” says Jimmy Minardi, personal trainer and founder of Minardi Training.

3. Limit rest. It’s natural to want to rest when your workout gets tough, but try to keep those breaks to a minimum. “Instead of taking a break after each move, cycle through a complete set of the moves, then take a break,” says Belliard. “The shorter the rest, the more taxing the workout will be on your cardiovascular system.” Little by little you’ll notice you won’t need as much rest in future workouts because you can catch your breath faster.

4. Focus on form. When you get tired, it’s natural for form to suffer. Unfortunately, this can be a huge waste of time. “100 bad push-ups are less beneficial than 10 really good ones,” says Belliard. If you notice your form slipping, break your movements into smaller chunks so that you can do them all correctly.

5. Change up your routine. Your body can adapt petty quickly to the same old workout, which is why getting into a rut can stop you from seeing results. One way to make sure you’re doing lots of different movements: Take the workout outside. “I see people at the gym who aren’t getting any healthier and who look bored to tears,” says Minardi. “Find something you love to do outside—like trail running, mountain biking, or kayaking. Each time you work out, it’s going to be a little different, which will keep your body challenged.”


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