7 ways to make your go-to workouts more effective

by Alec Graves on Monday 10 June 2024

3 min read

Consistency is everything in the gym. But if you’ve started to grow tired of your go-to workout and are looking for ways to keep things fresh – we’ve got you covered. Challenge yourself and try these tips from Virgin Active.

1. Make time for a proper warm-up

If you’re not already committing time to warming up properly – then this is your cue. A proper warm-up primes your body for action and reduces the likelihood of injury. More than just that, a good warm-up can help you unlock new levels of performance.

In a 2010 study on the effectiveness of warm-ups performance improved in up to 79% of the criteria they examined. Learn more about warming up properly, in our article: "Do I really need to warm up and cool down?".

2. Introduce progressive overload

Adaptation takes time, but it doesn’t happen without a stressor to adapt to. Progressive overload is that stressor, and it’s the key to unlocking fresh and consistent progress in the gym.

Progressive overload is what exercise scientists, coaches, personal trainers and committed gym-goers call gradually adding difficulty to your workouts. The concept applies equally well weightlifting (adding weight or repetitions) as it does to cardio workouts.

Try exploring your limits in a safe way. In the weights area, that might mean asking someone for a spot and adding a little weight to the bar, or using machines so that you can work to failure. For your cardio workouts, it might mean upping the intensity with settings on your treadmill or ergometer.

3. Play with tempo in your repetitions and sets

You might hear the word ‘tempo’ more often when talking about music. But it’s a useful concept in exercise as well. When talking about your go-to workout, tempo is the ‘pace’ or speed you move through a repetition or set.

For weightlifting, that could mean slowing down your reps, time under tension, or even introducing pauses when you’re at the bottom of a lift. You’ll know you’re on the right track when your old working weight starts to feel much heavier than it used to.

For cardio, this could mean mixing your usual steady-state session with a mix of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If this is your thing, we suggest trying booking into a Grid Training class. There are benefits galore to be had with some simple changes to the tempo of your go-to workout.

4. Work on your mind-muscle connection

Progressive overload and changes in tempo are changes to your workout program – but you can change things about your mental approach too. You might have heard about ‘mind-muscle connection’, and it’s one of the best ways to stay intentional during your workouts.

‘Mind-muscle connection’ is a product of good form and a conscious effort to ‘feel’ the full stretch and contraction of each repetition. It can help to slow down the movement (tempo work) and maybe even drop the weight down to help you dial in the feeling of that perfect repetition.

Want to learn more about mind-muscle connection? Read our blog: 'How to utilise your mind-body connection for a better workout'.

5. Find a playlist that hits the spot

Sometimes all you need for a fresh feeling in your workout is a change-up in the audio experience. This isn’t just giving you an excuse to listen to your favourite tunes – it’s also science! Listening to music has been shown to positively impact performance in endurance, sprint, and resistance-based activities. The music you choose matters though, so pick a playlist you personally like and that also matches the kind of workout vibe you’re going for.

6. Change up the way you fuel your workout

How you fuel your workout matters. But it doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. Simple and repeatable snacks with carbohydrates to fuel your effort in the gym is a recipe for success. Learn more about how to carb-load here: "Carbs are not the enemy".

If you don’t like the idea of eating before your workout, something as simple as having a cup of coffee before your workout is shown to have benefits for performance and focus. Drinking coffee about 45 minutes before your workout can offer temporary boosts to muscular strength, endurance, and power.

Find out more in our blog: "How coffee pre-workout can boost performance".

7. Have a personal trainer help keep you on track

Focus and consistency are important in the gym, but it’s equally important to know that we all have bouts of low motivation that can make it difficult to stay on track. Whether you’re new to working out, or you’ve been on your own fitness journey for years already, a Personal Trainer can help keep you accountable and track your progress. To find out more, simply get in touch and talk to us today.

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