How to make your workout work harder

Committing to regular exercise is no easy feat, so if you’re going to go to all the effort of working out, you may as well get maximum benefit.

These small tweaks to your training regimen will amp up your results.

Identify your fitness goals

First, map out what you want to achieve, says Fitness First Australia national fitness manager Michael Cunico.

Michael says it can be as simple as saying, “Over the next month, I’m going to work on improving my aerobic endurance”.

This gives you something tangible to work towards, and a specific focus for every workout session.

Switch up your workout

While it’s important to give your body a chance to master a certain skill, it’s also key to refresh what you’re doing so you don’t plateau.

“For example, if you regularly run 5km, you could mix it up by doing 10 sets of 500 metres with a minute break in between instead,” Michael says.

“This allows you to use a different energy system and build up capacity in another area.” 

Increase frequency

If you can, look at upping your exercise schedule.

“Let’s say you’re doing three sessions a week. You could do a fourth,” Michael says.

“Now, all of a sudden, you’re doing more work in your week, and you’re therefore making your training week harder.”

Up the intensity

Look at ways that you can dial up the difficulty of your favourite workouts.

This could be increasing the number of sets you do so you’re doing more in a single session. Alternatively you could look at decreasing the break you have in between sets.

“If your break is shorter, then you’re getting to your next working set with less recovery, and therefore your workout is going to be a little bit harder,” Michael says. 

Keep tabs on yourself

Enlist the help of a fitness tracker and monitor your heart rate.

If you’re running on a treadmill, or if you’re doing a spin class, pinpoint the usual heart rate in which you tend to gas out and look to increase it.

“You might say, ‘Well, my average heart rate for that spin class was 135, and I’m going to try to increase that over the next three weeks, and I’m going try to make my average heart rate 140 beats per minute’,” Michael says.

Learn the right technique

Learning to execute exercise moves the correct way and working through the full range of motion allows you to make your workout more difficult.

For example, Michael says even tweaking a squat and going from squatting halfway to going as low as you can, can help you squeeze more out of one move.

Do this enough and you’ve all of a sudden upped the intensity of your average training session without having to make any drastic changes.

Written by Tania Gomez