- Cycle your workouts – vary the intensity, volume, exercises and tools
- Work for time not reps – :20 sec work :10 sec of rest for 4 minutes (Tabata Protocol) is very effective in burning fat and increasing work capacity
- Learn new lifts or movements and practice them
- Try to do something everyday, even if it is just a brisk walk for active recovery
Cycle your workouts but make sure they all focus on reaching the goal(s) you are trying to reach. If you are training for a power lifting meet, you need to make sure all your work is focused on the lifts you will be competing in. The 1st 4 days of the cycle focus on the your deadlift but do some lighter work on the squat and bench press. The 2nd week make the squat the primary lift, the 3rd week hit the bench press harder.
Work for time. When you focus on going for reps you limit yourself. If you say I will do 50 pushups today you will find yourself doing great up until 40 or so then your sub-conscious kicks in and the last 10 are a struggle with number 50 being all you can muster. However if you say I will do pushups for 3 minutes and you just start and do as many as you can, pause briefly, resume, etc when you reach 3 minutes you should have done a LOT more than 50 reps. Try it, it works
Don’t get stuck doing the same things, your body adapts quickly to whatever is thrown at it. To keep improving, whether getting stronger, losing weight or building muscle we mus continually vary our routines to prevent adaptation. Varying our workouts and using different equipment also helps prevent boredom. So if your are a body builder, go learn to use kettlebells and incorporate them on your “cardio” days. If you only do aerobics, the treadmill or other non-resistance training pick up a weight, prefereably a heavy one. A light one wont do anything for you.
Be active every day. If you train every day you will reach your goals faster. Now this doesnt mean hit it hard every day. Instead of taking a day off, do something light such as Tai Chi or joint mobility or a nice walk. Nothing strenuous, nothing that will get the heart rate up or make you breathe hard, just even to get the blood flowing.
Here’s a template that you can use to cycle your training over a 28 day period.
- Day 1 – lift something heavy (very heavy) for a few reps and do a lot of sets with adequare rest between sets. Focus on strength, don’t get the heart rate elevated, it isn’t supposed to be cardio. Heavy dead lifts, or squats for example.
- Day 2 – Crank it up a notch or 5. This is high intensity, your HR should come close to maxing out, you should be sweating bullets, you should be breathing hard. This is a metcon a good hard training day. Lots of sweat, lots of volume.
- Day 3 – Active Recovery – joint mobility, a nice easy walk, Tai Chi.
- Day 4 – Moderate day, kind of in between days 1 and 2. Some yoga or moderate intensity body-weight stuff or easy kettlebells lifting such as snatches for 20 minutes with a very light bell. 50 to 60% RM on your deadlift or squat, but low volume also.
You can adapt this protocol to any training goal. Run the cycle for 28 days (4×7) and re-evaluate. If necessary you can run the same plan again, or you may create a new goal and tune your cycle to meet that goal.
If something comes up and you miss a day or two, or even a week, just pick up where you left off.
Using this template (the 4×7 is originally from Scott Sonnon – http://www.rmaxinternational.com) you can practice every day, make gains faster and still have plenty of recovery time.
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