Although you might think that slowing down when you lift weights is the key to becoming stronger and slimmer, researchers who conducted a study in Alabama would disagree with you. Their study looked at two groups of lifters. The first group was asked to lift their weights over a period of five seconds and lower their weights over a period of 10 seconds. The second group was asked to lift their weights more quickly, using one second on the way up and one second on the way down.
Interestingly, the second group that lifted more quickly managed to lift 250 per cent more than the first group. Incredibly, the second, faster group also burnt 71 per cent more calories than the slow group. Fast reps are thought to enable you to lift more because the movement is explosive and if you want to increase your overall strength lifting faster is thought to be better. Remember that you should never sacrifice your form even though you are lifting quickly.
Although it is thought that fast reps are great for building strength, if you want to build muscles lifting slowly is thought to be more effective. To maximise your workout results, perhaps think of doing a combination of both fast and slow reps.
Mix it up
You’ve probably read this time and time again, but how many of you still don’t mix your workouts up? Most of us our creatures of habit and don’t like change, but the benefits of changing your workout routine far outweigh the slight inconvenience of doing something differently.
Not only will mixing up your workout routine help you to keep feeling motivated, it will also ensure you are challenging your body and working your muscles. If you stick to the same routine your body gets used to the workout and it will no longer be as effective. You can mix up your workout in lots of different ways. Firstly, you can change the order in which you do your exercises, or if you normally do cardio try strength training instead, or vice versa. You should also try to work new muscles with different exercises, or target the same muscles doing different forms of exercise. There are lots of options out there for you to choose from, just make sure you keep your workout fresh to ensure you keep benefiting from the hours you spend doing it.
Use free weights
Machines designed to help you do your strength training exercises are useful when you are starting out because they can help you to perfect your form and get to grips with the basics of an exercise. However, once you are accustomed to the exercise, moving on to using free weights is a small tweak that will help you to maximise your workout results.
The argument for free weights comes from the fact that when you use strength training machines you are often stabilised by seats or rests and this stabilisation means that you do not engage your core and get the most out of your workout. Equally, when you work out using free weights you have to use more muscles to guide the weight and this means that you are working out more during your session compared to when you use strength training machines. Although there are benefits to using strength-training machines, if you normally use machines try using free weights to see if you gain any benefits from this workout tweak.
Download some tunes
We all know that music can have a very big impact on our mood, but do you use it to enhance your workout? If you don’t, then it’s time that you did. Music is a powerful tool and studies have found that it can have a positive impact upon performance.
For example, Dr Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist, found that listening to music whilst you run can improve running performance by a whopping 15 per cent.
If you’d like to use music to improve your workout and maximise your results Dr Costas Karageorghis suggests that you look for a temp that sits anywhere between 120 and 140 beats per minute. Songs that have this many beats per minute include U2’s song Beautiful Day, The Beach Boys’ Catch a Wave and Taylor Swift’s Crazier.
Use half the weight
Although cutting back on the amount of weights you use when you work out sounds odd, when you perform certain exercises, like lunges, using one weight and carrying it on one side of your body (as opposed to lifting one weight in either hand) can do wonders for your core and can get big results.
The idea behind using weights to imbalance your body like this is that in order to counterbalance this weight difference you have to stabilise your body using your core. Therefore you are working more of your muscles when you work out and will be working harder despite using less weight. As well as with lunges, you can do this exercise with squats and shoulder presses.
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