Do you walk into your home gym or commercial gym and do the same workout day after day because you are not sure how to change up your routine? This is a common theme that I hear from many of my clients when they first start working with me. They are familiar with a variety of exercises but don’t know how to vary their routine in the gym. This can lead to boredom and a lack of desire to workout. I’m going to show you some simple ways you can add a little spark into your workouts. Come step outside of your comfort zone with me!
There are so many ways to create variety, intensity and efficiency into your workouts. One of the easiest ways is to play around with the types of sets you use in your workout. There are many ways to do this - let's look at a few of the more common types of sets.
For all of these types we will use 3 sets of 10 (3 x 10) to help with the explanations.
What you are probably doing in the gym:
Straight sets: This is the typical type of workout also known as ‘standard exercise order.’ This is a number of repetitions of one exercise (for example a bicep curl) followed by a rest period, then one or more sets of the same exercise.
3 x 10
Perform 1 set of 10 repetitions of bicep curls, rest your prescribed time, then complete your 2nd set of 10 reps, rest, finish with the 3rd set of 10 reps. Then move on to your next exercise.
Now let’s add some of that spark by incorporating one or more of these 4 types of sets into your next workout!
Super sets: This is a combo of two exercises that are performed one after the other with little to no rest between. This can be completed in a variety of ways: Same muscle group function (exercises that use elbow flexion – bicep curls, hammer curls); Opposing muscle groups (biceps vs triceps); Upper vs lower body (chest exercise vs leg exercise).
3 x 10
Perform 1 set of 10 bicep curls immediately followed by 1 set of 10 triceps extensions, rest, then complete your 2nd set of 10 bicep curls followed by 10 triceps extensions, rest, complete 3rd set of 10 of each.
Giant sets: This is a combo of three or more exercises that are performed one after the other with little to no rest between. Similar to super sets you can complete this in a variety of ways: Focus on one muscle group (choose 3 quadriceps exercises); Focus on lower body muscles (hamstring curls, calf raises, lunges); Focus on upper body muscles (chest press, seated row, lateral raise); or any combination of the above.
3 x 10
Perform 1 set of 10 bicep curls immediately followed by 1 set of triceps extensions, immediately followed by 1 set of 10 sit-ups, rest, then complete your 2nd set of 10 bicep curls followed by 10 triceps extensions, followed by 10 sit-ups, rest, complete 3rd set of 10 of each.
Drop sets: This is a technique for continuing an exercise with a lower weight once muscle failure has been achieved at a higher weight. You will perform an exercise for an assigned amount of reps or until failure, then immediately reducing (dropping) the weight load for additional reps or set or sets
3 x 10/8
Pick your normal “heavy” weight and do 10 reps, immediately decrease the weight (‘drop’) and do 8 more reps. That is one set.
This can easily be done on a machine or with dumbbells or barbells. You will need to have the dumbbells close by so you can decrease the weight quickly & continue with the reps.
Yo-Yo sets: Also known as Hi-Low-Hi. Start with a weight that you normally could do for about two reps beyond that first series.
3 x 10-8-6
Choose a starting weight that you would normally be able to reach 10-12 reps before experiencing muscle failure. Complete 10 reps to near-failure with that weight. Then immediately drop the weight to approximately 60% of the original poundage and complete an additional 8 more reps. Increase the weight back to where you had it originally, and then complete the final 6 reps. Rest, repeat for 2nd & 3rd sets.
All of these types of sets have benefits and your choice depends on what your goals and outcomes are for your particular workout. Benefits include:
Increases the efficiency of your workouts
Increases the intensity
Increases the variety
Promotes the overload principle to the muscles to create a training effect
So if you are getting bored of doing the same straight sets or want to add some variety, intensity & efficiency to your workouts, try adding one of these other techniques into your next workout! Feel free to let me know how it goes!