Make progress without increasing the weight!

It’s important to progress with your training and one of the most common ways to do this is increasing the weight we lift. However, often we can hit a plateau in training where we might feel we cannot physically go any heavier but still want to progress. There are also may be limitations on what kit is available or it may be that we just don’t want to go heavier at this time.  There are lots of ways in which we can increase the intensity and difficulty and make progress without increasing the weight. Here are some examples:

  • Supersets

A superset is doing 2 exercises of the same muscle group back to back, with as little rest as possible between each movement. For example, a dumbbell or barbell bench press into bodyweight press ups. Two different movements but using the same muscle groups which will fatigue them much quicker than doing them as separate exercises.

With your supersets you could choose to isolate a muscle group before the main movement, for example you could do some tricep overhead extensions before your bench press to make the bench press target the triceps more.

  • Isometric holds

Adding an isometric hold (pause) to an exercise places tension on the muscles without moving the surrounding joints. This can improve physical endurance and work on strengthening and improving stabilisation of muscles. By holding your muscles under tension for a longer period, for example holding for a few seconds at the bottom part of the squat, will make the exercise a lot more difficult.

  • Drop sets

Performing the same exercise back to back but dropping to a lighter weight on the next set. For example doing 8 reps of bicep curls at 10kg then immediately dropping down to 8kg and doing another 8 reps.

  • Tri-set

Similar to the superset but instead of just 2 exercises you do 3 back to back, make sure the exercises all target the same muscle group.

  • Reduce your rest time

It is very common to get distracted during your rest period and they can end up being much longer than you realise. The most important thing though is making sure you are resting for the same time between each set, having a longer rest between one set will mean your muscles will have had longer time to recover. Another way of adding difficulty to your workouts in limiting your rest time, meaning less time for muscles to recover making the sets more difficult. Set yourself a timer, time your first set then double that time to have as your rest, make sure you rest then for that time for the rest of the other sets.

  • Eccentric movements

Eccentric movement is going as slow and controlled as you can during the contraction part of a movement. For example, as you lower the bar to your chest on bench press or as you go down into your squat. Therefore, the muscle is being lengthened while it is contracting, meaning it maintains a greater tension than it could have developed in a static movement.

These are all great ways to make progress without increasing the weight.  Remember to progress your training you need to increase the difficulty of your sessions over time. Whichever way you choose to do this doesn’t matter as long as you keep focused on progressive overload you will make progress. If you need some advice on your training its always good to book in with a professional, contact one of our team of personal trainers here for advice