Feel like you’re not getting as much out of your workouts as you’d like? A lot comes down to your form. Try these 10 simple workout hacks to start seeing the results you desire.
I’ve spent a lot of years working out, and almost 20 teaching exercise. During this time, I’ve witnessed some great form, but also a lot of bad form when it comes to exercise. When it comes to lifting weights, your body will try to find the path of least resistance: It will try to cheat the exercise in a myriad of ways. The end result is that you get less out of the exercise, and the overall workout. That translates directly into your RESULTS. I’ve devised a few workout hacks that will help you to squeeze just a little bit more from each visit to the gym.
10 Simple Workout Hacks
1. Use full ROM. While it is true that you can get almost as much out of partial range of motion, you will get more if you use the full range. That excludes the times where you are adding in pulses or a bottom half range to add intensity. I’m talking about the guy or gal in the gym doing biceps curls, but they’re not going all the way to the bottom of the range. It is harder that way, but that’s why you need to focus on the full range, getting the most out of each and every rep.
2. Take a larger step when lunging. Often I see folks shortening the step between their lunges, and then just doing a little dip. You’re getting about as much out of that as you are walking forward. Lengthen the stride, come down to as close to 90 degrees as you can, and then rise back up. Take your time, and concentrate on getting the full range.
3. Hold something under your arms during dead lifts. The dead lift is a great basic hinging exercise that you can make even more effective by holding towels under your arms (or even a small stress ball). Holding something soft under your arms automatically fires the lats, increasing the effectiveness of this overall body strengthener.
4. Use an offset grip for biceps curls. I don’t mean having your hands in opposing directions – rather, I mean holding the dumbbells closer to the center, so your thumbs are touching the round part of the dumbbell, offsetting the weight slightly. Your biceps and forearms will have to work harder to balance the weights in your hands, adding intensity.
5. Add a squeeze to your bench/chest presses. I’ve used this cue for years, and I often wonder how many people are actually doing it this way. When you lift a barbell from your chest up, squeeze the pecs and the front of the shoulders as you lift. You can even think of it as pressing in and up on the bar as you lift. This activates more muscle fibers, making your bench press more effective.
6. Slow down the eccentric phase. The concentric phase is where you are lifting the weight, while the eccentric phase is the return to the starting position. Put on the brakes, slowing down as you return to the starting position. You will find the intensity of the exercise has increased, as have your results.
7. Change your barbell squat position to a front load. Having the barbell on your back increases posterior pressure, making the squat more about your glutes than your quads. Switching the weight to the front transfers more load to the quads. Changing up your exercises just a bit like this can mean the difference between stagnation and reaching your goals – you choose.
8. During hip thrusts, including exercises like the bridge, keep a mini band around your knees. This adds an aspect of abduction which gives you just a little bit more glute activation, and stimulation in more than one plane of motion.
9. Shorten your planks, but add variety. Planks can be boring, and we’ve done the adding time thing till people are just hanging there, rather than actively firing every muscle in the body. I propose adding difficulty through offsetting the weight (lifting a leg and hold), or tapping out to the side to add dynamic movement to the plank.
10. Pause at the bottom of each rep. Yes, it’s harder, but are you here to work or not? Pausing slows you down, so you can’t use momentum.
Make the most of your workout and you will get more of the results you are after! If you need help with these workout hacks or if you’d like to start a new program, come see me for a free fitness assessment!Set up a Free Fitness Consultation
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.