You know that feeling you get when you first start a new program? No matter what kind of training you are about to embark on, the novelty of it just seems so exciting. However, slowly but surely, the excitement wanes and after completing a round or two of the program, you feel apathetic towards your training again. Now of course this doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people get charged up at just the prospect of going to the gym, but for others, the thought of doing another session with the same routine is just plain boring. That’s why it is essential to have a program that fits the needs of each individual. Some people like boring. Others need some variety to spice things up. In fact, most people need a little variety in their training to stay motivated and satisfied. So, if you find yourself being turned off by your training as of late, it would be worth learning some new tricks. Let us dive into some of the best strategies out there for sprucing up your training program.
Mix Up Your Rep Scheme
A lot of times, people get stuck in a certain rep range. This probably comes from trying to make sure their training plan is most ‘optimal’ for a given goal. Some prioritize getting strong by lifting in the 1-5 rep range. Others lift in the 6-12 rep range to maximize hypertrophy. While it may be true that certain rep ranges are better for certain adaptations (lower reps for strength), it doesn’t mean that all other rep ranges are useless.
Sometimes, it can be fun to get a sick pump even if your goal is to get as strong as possible. Just because something isn’t the most optimal scientifically, doesn’t mean it isn’t the best for you. In reality, the most ‘optimal’ training program is the one that you can adhere to the most. So if you’re feeling a bit turned off by those 5×5’s, take a few sessions and train like a bodybuilder. Not only will you still make gains despite the higher reps, you may find you enjoy the heavy stuff a lot more upon returning to your normal training.
Try New Movements
The squat, bench press, deadlift, overhead press, barbell row, and pull-up seem to make up the core of every training program. There is no doubt these movements pack a big punch if your goal is to get jacked, but constantly filling your training with only these six movements can get a bit old. The first thing you can try is swapping those core movements for a modified version. Instead of a barbell squat, try a dumbbell split squat. Instead of a standing overhead press, try a seated Z-press. There are literally thousands of different variations of the core movements that will get the job done.
Additionally, you can start adding some fun accessories to your training. You don’t always have to train exclusively in the foundational movement patterns. Adding some flies, shoulder raises, and bicep isolation work can help you stay sane. And hey, who doesn’t like a pair of well sculpted biceps!? Just make sure you accommodate for the extra workload in terms of recovery and you’ll be golden.
People often overlook the fact that the speed with which you perform a movement can change the feeling entirely. We are usually focused on lifting a weight as fast as possible when it comes to getting strong. That way, we can get more reps and thus practice the lift more. However, sometimes it is beneficial to slow things down. Implementing pauses or slow eccentrics are great for many reasons. First, they expose weaknesses in your movement pattern. Second, they fire up metabolic pathways and help build connective tissue integrity. And third, they offer a nice break from the norm in terms of movement variety.
Sure, a back squat with no tempo is already challenging. Maybe you don’t want to apply tempo to your main sets, but what about doing a couple sets of heavy squats and then a couple sets with tempo? You could use a 3 down, 3 up tempo to really burn the hell out of your legs to finish off the squat session. Or, you could use some pauses to really que explosive movement out of the bottom. Either way, you work some new angles while also breaking up any unwanted monotony. Here’s an article on tempo.
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