You have been doing the same workout for a while now and it is time to kick it up a notch! Check out these 3 simple hacks to challenge yourself or your client’s next workout.
I am not talking about taking the latest and greatest class, doing an insane amount of high intensity exercises, or even increasing your weight, sets, or reps. Although, you totally can do all that!
3 fitness hacks to challenge your current workout! #fitness #sweatpink Click To Tweet
1. Train with thicker grips
You don’t need any fancy schmancy equipment for this hack. Wrap a towel around your dumbbells or bar and complete your usual workout.
Note: if you are lifting heavy, make sure you have a good grip… In this instance you may want something more sturdy to wrap around the bar. You can buy grips online for relatively cheap to add to your bar (Fat Gripz sell for about $40).
So, why train with a thicker grip?
Well for one, it will strengthen your grip and forearm strength.
Will Brink, a strength trainer for US SWAT teams, describes it well when he says, “If your back and legs can dead-lift 700lb, but your grip ends at 300lbs, your dead-lift is 300 lbs. When it comes to strength, you are only as strong as your weakest link.” (Breaking Muscle)
Training with thicker grips is also a good way to change up your workout routine and avoid overuse injuries.
If this whole thick grip training spiked your interest, here is a good article to read >>
Why and How to Use Thick Bar Training for Peak Performance.
2. Add isometrics
Isometrics are killer! They are also a great solution for any deficits you may have in your workout.
For example, let’s say your knees come out past your toes when you squat. In order to master the squat movement and strengthen your glutes, add 3 sets of 45 second isometric wall squats.
Looking to master a chin up? Try an isometric chin up hang on the bar. Oh so hard!
Notice I am holding the chin up AND using the wider side of the bar, BOOYA!
Working on that perfect push up? Try holding yourself in the down phase of the push up (arms bent) for 5-10 seconds the next time you do your push ups.
Almost every muscle in the body will be activated when you strike a pose and hold still!
Isometrics require you to recruit your abs and glutes like no other! The middle of the body, aka the “core”, connects your upper and lower half… if the core is weak, pretty much all movements, and isometric holds, will be compromised because the body will look for strength in stronger or more dominant muscles.
The plank is the easiest to notice a weak core with because, well, it focuses on the core! Any break in the kinetic chain (head hanging low, shoulders retracted, torso drooping) compromises the move. Since the core is weak, the body is looking for other ways to maintain the plank.
The human head can weigh up to 11 lbs. It is easier to just let the head hang low than have to hold that extra weight up! When the shoulders pull back and the body seems to rest on the shoulder blades, the upper body is doing most of the work, not the core. And when someone’s back is arched, it is a clear indication that they are not using their abs. If the abs were tight, that would straighten the spine and eliminate any back arching or drooping.
It is better to hold a perfect plank for 5 seconds than a crappy one for 1 minute! Click To Tweet
Speaking of the core…
3. Train the core and obliques with suitcase carries
Many people miss the boat on suitcase carries. You have to go HEAVY with these. Using a weight that you can do bicep curls or shoulder presses with is pretty pointless.
All you are doing is picking up a weight like a suitcase, walking, and then putting it down (I make it sound easy).
Women should aim to do a 40-50 pound suitcase carry. You can work your way up to this. Start with a weight 5-10 pounds heavier than what you normally use for shoulder presses or singe arm rows.
Men should aim for an 80 pound suitcase carry.
You are engaging the obliques on the opposite side of your trunk to prevent the heavy weight from pulling your body towards it.
It is not uncommon for your muscles to get so fatigued during a suitcase carry that you have to put the weight down half way through your walk and then pick it back up and keep going. In fact, if you do that and are not experiencing any pain, you probably have a pretty good weight load.
Give it a try and add a few suitcase carries into your next workout!
Start with smaller distances and then add to it as you feel more comfortable and get better with the carry.
If you don’t have a lot of room, just walk back and forth a few times in your house! If you are at the gym, try walking around the perimeter of the facility. And an extra fun bonus… see how many people ask you what you are doing? 🙂
Do you have any fitness hacks you use to challenge your own or your clients’ workouts?
Have you tried any of the above hacks?
What I love about these is that they take stuff you probably already do and make it more effective.
For me as someone whose workouts are about 99% just running, I seek ways to augment my workouts. And aside from a few minutes of bodyweight stuff a few mornings a week, I try to do simple stuff that keeps me more active:
– Park as far away from my work office as possible. Literally I am in the far corner. It isn’t much, maybe an extra 1/2 mile total every day … but it is something.
– Always take the stairs.
– Don’t use the nearest restroom. Unless, um, you really need to. 🙂
– Carry stuff. Even if you don’t really need to.
– Walking meetings. You will be more efficient and energized.
So many great ways to bring activity to every corner of your life!
Yes! I always try to take the stairs… although I will admit I usually look for a close parking spot. 🙂
I never thought about using a thicker grip- what a great idea! I do LOVE to incorporate suitcase carries though- so awesome for core and upper body strength!
Yes, I have heard a lot about thick grip training but never really tried much of it… it sure adds a challenge!
I haven’t heard about the thicker grip before. I wonder if it’d help me lift heavier.
Well eventually… At first though, you may have to go lighter because it will make the exercise more challenging! Let me know how you like it….
Thicker grips? Why haven’t I thought of that? I’m going to try it during my next workout. Thanks Sarah.