Have you been hitting the gym diligently but seeing limited progress? It may be time to switch up the way you train and start working smarter, rather than harder.
These four simple swaps can help you overhaul your workouts and see better results from your gym sessions.
1. Stop Relying on Machines
How often do you sit on a chair and push a ton of weight away from you with your legs? Or sit on a chair and use your arms to lift something heavy over your head? If you’re like most of the world, the answer is never.
Utilizing machines for resistance training is fine from time to time, particularly for people whose goals are purely aesthetic. But, if you’re interested in becoming a stronger and more functional individual, it’s time to stop relying on machines and spend more time in the free weight section.
Dumbbell and barbell exercises force you to engage more muscles to stay stable. This means you’ll get more bang for your buck while working out.
When you do a seated hamstring curl on a machine, you’re only working your hamstrings. When you do a barbell deadlift, you’re working your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, adductors, calves, lower back, trapezius, upper back, abdominals, and obliques. Which exercise seems like the better option?
2. Change the Way You Cycle
If you need to do a low-impact form of cardio, you may find yourself gravitating toward a bike. Cycling can be great for burning calories without putting a lot of stress on the joints, but make sure you’re choosing a spin bike over a recumbent style bike.
Recumbent bikes require very little muscle engagement and won’t yield a very high-calorie burn. A spin bike, on the other hand, will force you to use your legs, core, and glutes — especially if you stand up for intervals. This will allow you to burn more calories during your cardio sessions.
The spin bike is also a more functional option. After all, how likely is it that you’ll ever find yourself leaning back in a chair while only pedaling with your legs? Pretty unlikely. It’s not totally unrealistic to think that you might one day need to ride a traditional bike somewhere, though.
3. Ditch the Wrist Straps
If you’ve been working out for a while, you may understand the benefit of exercises like deadlifts. But, are you using wrist straps to help you pull more weight?
Wrist straps are fine to use on occasion, especially if you want to test your strength and go for a one-rep max. However, if you’re using straps during every workout, you’re only cheating yourself.
If you want to increase the amount of weight you can pull, you also need to work on strengthening your wrists and forearms.
A forearm strengthener is a simple yet important workout tool that can make all the difference in your gym performance. By increasing your grip strength, you’ll have an easier time pulling heavy weights. You’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing you did it all by yourself, without the help of straps or other aids.
4. Give Up Sit-ups
Sit-ups alone are not going to give you the six-pack you’re looking for. There are tons of other core exercises out there that will work more muscles in a more efficient manner and also improve your overall strength.
When you do sit-ups, you’re only working your abdominals. When you do a plank or bird-dog, though, you’re working all the muscles in your core, including your abdominals, glutes, and back muscles.
The strength you gain from these exercises will translate to more strength in other movements like squats and overhead presses since you’re increasing your total ability to stabilize yourself, rather than just isolating the abdominals.
In addition to being inefficient and largely ineffective, sit-ups can also be dangerous. They put a lot of pressure on your neck, back, and hip-flexors and can cause a lot of pain if you’re not careful.
If you’re tired of not seeing progress, make these swaps to your workout routine today. You’ll start seeing better results and will also feel stronger and more capable in your day-to-day activities.