Sometimes the exercises on your workout chart just aren't enough. Maybe you're too advanced and the moves don't challenge you anymore, or maybe you're just bored. Regardless of the reason, your progress ultimately suffers. When that happens, it's time to make your workouts more challenging by increasing the intensity of your exercises. This will provide the challenge your body needs to continue to adapt and progress toward your goals—and it will make your workouts more fun.
Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 (San Diego), provides the following five tips to make your exercises more intense. Check out the video player above for a demonstration of each.
Train with Multi-Joint Exercises
The more joints you can involve in one exercise, the more muscles you'll work at once. For instance, Durkin's Dumbbell Squat to Press strengthens your legs, hips, back, shoulders, arms and even your core at the same time. Rather than doing one exercise that isolates each of these muscle groups, hit them all with one move. Talk about efficiency.
Exercises like the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift are multi-joint movements. You can also combine two multi-joint moves, like the Dumbbell Squat to Press, to increase the number of muscles trained. Other options include Dumbbell Lunge to Press and Dumbbell Push-Up to Row. You can get creative as long as the moves flow together.
By performing intervals, you'll get more done in less time. Durkin says, "One of the great things about interval training is that you can combine strength and conditioning."
In the video above, Durkin demonstrates an interval that includes Plyo Push-Ups, TRX Rows and Jumping Rope. The first two exercises improve upper-body strength. The moves are performed consecutively with no rest, so they also elevate your heart rate, which is further increased when you jump rope. You can then rest, but only if needed.
Add Drop Sets
Feel like you're not making gains on your primary lifts? If you're stuck, try adding a drop set after your final set on one of your main lifts, like the Bench Press or Squat. "Drop sets are awesome to build strength and build up work capacity," says Durkin. "Work capacity is how much volume and intensity you can get in a limited amount of time." This is critical because with a higher work capacity, you can get more work done and further challenge your muscles.
The setup is simple. Load a weight you can lift for five to 10 reps. Perform one set, quickly reduce the weight by 20 to 30 percent, and repeat for a total of three sets.
Get More Out of Jogging
Jogging is arguably the most popular workout. You just need to lace up your shoes and take off. Problem is, jogging doesn't translate very well to anything except endurance sports. You never jog at a moderate pace for an extended period of time during a game, and unless you're a receiver who exclusively runs go-routes, you rarely run only straight ahead.
That's why Durkin recommends adding multi-directional work to your jogs. Every half-mile, stop and perform one of the drills demonstrated in the video above, which trains strength and power laterally and backwards as well as forward. This will also spike your heart rate, providing a metabolic conditioning effect greater than what you can get with a moderate-intensity jog.
One of the best ways to make an exercise more intense is to turn it into a challenge. Trying to set a new personal record for the number of reps you perform on an exercise or beat a previous time becomes a personal competition. Next time you take the challenge, you'll want to push past your previous mark. Who wants to lose to themselves? It's best to take a challenge once per week, but do it on different exercises so you don't put too much stress on your body.
Make sure to check out Durkin on Twitter (@ToddDurkin) for regular performance tips.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock