11 Tips to Improve Your Workout and Gain Muscle Faster
Feel like you’ve reached a drop-off or plateau with your strength training?
Maybe you got awesome gains to begin with, but things are slowing down. Or maybe you’re just getting bored with the same old, same old. It’s time to make some changes to keep up the momentum.
Whatever the reason - we could all do with shaking things up once in awhile. Luckily there are lots of simple things you can do to promote big gains.
The 11 tips that follow are not about overhauling your entire lifting regime - doing that can result in more harm than good. No, these tips are mostly small changes and minor tweaks that will lead to incremental gains.
So, without further ado, let’s jump in and discover how to quickly and easily boost your workout results.
11 Useful Tips to Turn Your Workout Around
1 | Organisation is what you need
If you’re anything like most of us, you probably jumped into weight training at the first opportunity after learning a few lifts and some of the basics of good form, which muscles to train, frequency, etc.
And that’s fine to begin with. But later on down the road you might be finding that those initial workouts aren’t cutting it anymore. So, what do you need to do?
Planning is the key. You need to organise your workout schedule to get max results. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t necessarily mean changing your entire workout routine, exercises, lifts and all. It just means creating a good cycle of workouts. Try planning 4 to 12-week blocks that include the usual workouts for each muscle group and rest days, but try to perform different exercises in each block, with a different focus.
For instance, you may want to do 4 weeks that concentrate more on your back muscles, so even on arm days you may throw in some exercises that do both, such as bent over rows. In another 4 week block you may want to focus on some of the frequently overlooked muscles such as the calves.
You don’t need to go overboard and write down every single exercise you’re going to perform, these are meant to be quick tips after all! Just note down a focus for each block and add one or two exercises that hit those areas.
2 | Spice up your warm-ups
Warm-ups can be a great opportunity to throw in a bit of variety and also to help boost your workout results.
Rather than just doing a few stretches and practice sets, why not follow the advice of Van Halen - ‘You gotta jump!’ Incorporate some jumping jacks, star jumps, box jumps, etc. into your warm up. They are great exercises in themselves and will get most of your core muscle groups prepared for a good workout.
Rolling around on the floor may seem a bit undignified, but using foam rollers is a very effective way to loosen up your muscles and improve flexibility before a workout. They’ve been used for a long time by athletes, but they are also very effective for bodybuilders.
Finally, another quick tip to improve your warm up and boost your workout is to throw a medicine ball a few times which is a brilliant way to warm up your upper body. Try throwing it against a wall from the chest or overhead, slamming it into the wall or throwing in the air underarm and catching it.
3 | Eat the right stuff
Ok, we all know that you are what you eat, right? Good nutrition is so important to overall health and fitness. Just a couple of additions or changes to your diet can work wonders for your workouts.
Foods that are both high in protein and fibre are the order of the day. Try snacking on raw nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit, making sure you eat both the flesh and skin where possible. Simple changes to your daily habits will help here. For instance, keep a bag of apples, seeds or nuts in your car or on your desk to make sure your diet is packing the goodness it needs.
4 | Add Amino acids
If you don’t already take amino acid supplements, now’s the time to start. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, meaning you’ll get an impressive workout boost.
Look for supplements that can branched chain amino acids (BCCA’s) as these bad boys will supercharge muscle growth and reduce fatigue and soreness. Definitely one of the simplest ways to get maximum workout benefits.
5 | Try a new grip
Sounds too good to be true, but just changing the way you grip a bar or handle can make a big difference to your results. For instance, for lat pulldowns, a wide grip will target your upper back and a close grip tones your lower back.
You can also try slightly changing the position you hold the bar during a bench press to subtly target different muscles. If you’re used to holding the bar in the same place each time, you may find it hard going to change at first, but as your overall strength grows, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try this sooner.
6 | Vary your form
Generally speaking, there is a correct form for each lift, i.e., an optimal stance and motion that exercises the muscles safely. However, the form for some lifts can be changed slightly to create variety and focus on different areas of the body.
For example, rather than always squatting with the bar on the back of your shoulders, why not try some front squats instead? Front squats will strengthen your core and torso measurably. To perform it, simply place the barbell across the front of your shoulders, with your fingers under the bar and elbows jutting out in front of you. Hold the bar steadily in this position, and squat as normal
7 | HITT it up
To supercharge your workout gains, try adding a bit of high-intensity interval training at the end of your lifting session. Just 10 minutes of HITT exercises such as burpees, lunges, etc. can make a BIG difference to your overall gains.
8 | Perform some pull ups
If you’re not doing any pull-ups at the moment, you need to add them to your routine. They are one of the most efficient exercises you can do. Each pull-up works out your biceps, shoulders, triceps, core, lats, forearms, grip and wrists. Phew. Oh, and they look pretty impressive too, especially if you get to the stage where you can make them look effortless.
9 | Throw in some hanging leg raises
At least once a week, add in a few hanging leg raises as these will get your core ripped in no time. To do one, just grip a pull-up bar and, if you’re a beginner, pull your legs up into your chest and hold this position for as long as possible. You should feel your abs tensing. For advanced bodybuilders, try lifting your legs straight out in front of you, bent 90 degrees to your torso, and hold them there.
10 | Use resistance bands
More and more people are embracing resistance bands as a simple, but effective, piece of exercise kit. They can help to target some of the often overlooked muscles such as the glutes. You can do some simple exercises such as banded glute kickbacks which, if you do enough of them, will guarantee you buns of steel!
11 | Cyclic dextrin - the secret to maximum energy
Forget energy drinks and caffeine pills. To get the ultimate energy boost for your workout, try using a supplement that contains cyclic dextrin. Best used during your exercise or in between workouts, causes a lower blood sugar spike than other energy supplements, meaning you’ll get a slower and steadier release of energy. Also, there are no bloating effects that you may get with a high-carb intake.
So, there you have it, 11 quick and easy tips to effectively improve your workouts and get better results. We could go on and quite easily list another 100+ tips. But it’s important not to get overwhelmed with changes
In fact, if you’re fired up to use the tips above, we recommend that you only add 2 or 3 at most to your workout routine to begin with, then gradually add the others. If you do nothing else, make sure you pay attention to number 1. Planning and organising your workouts to achieve specific goals is the change that will pump up your results the most.
Also, don’t feel like you have to persist with something if it isn’t working or you just don’t enjoy doing it. At the end of the day, we’re all different and not everything will have the same effect on every person. And enjoying yourself while building your physique is all part of it, so make sure that’s one of your highest priorities!