Exercise Tip  
  August 2012
Ways to Put More "Work" IN Your Workout  

James A. Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM,

  1. Exercise for a longer period. One of the simplest ways of increasing the collective demands you place on your body during your physical activity regimen is to extend the duration of your exercise session. To a given point, the longer you work out, the greater the exercise-related rewards you’ll achieve.
  2. Lift more. The basic concept underlying sound strength training is progressive overload. In that regard, to properly develop your level of muscular fitness, you must place a demand on your muscles beyond the load that they normally can handle. As yourmuscles become stronger, a proportionally higher level of resistance is required to further stimulate an increase in their strength. All factors considered, the more you lift, the more work you do.
  3. Exercise at a higher rate of speed. All factors equal when you exercise aerobically, the faster you move your body, the more you’ll perform within a given amount of time.
  4. Increase the distance you cover when you exercise. Regardless of whether you’re walking, running, cycling, or whatever, the greater the distance you movewhen you’re exercising, the more work you’ll do (work = force  distance). As one of the underlying elements of work, distance is one of the relatively easiest factors to manipulate when you want to increase the amount of work you perform during a particular exercise bout.
  5. Change your grip. The width and/or type of a particular grip being used while strength training tends to vary with the individual and the exercise being performed. To the degree that your grip increases the range of movement during a given exercise or enhances the level of isolation of the specific muscles or group of muscles being exercised, changing how and where you hold the bar (or lever) can increase the amount of work you’re doing.
  6. Change the position of your feet. Regardless of whether you’re lifting weights or exercising on amachine (aerobic or strength training), modifying the placement of your feet when you exercise can alter the degree of involvement of the muscles responsible for the exercise movement. This exercise modification can help increase the training stimulus for the involved muscles.
  7. Vary your exercise modalities. Research has shown that some exercise modalities involve doing more work than others. Although a strong argument can be made that individuals should engage in a mode of activity that they personally enjoy, considerable evidence also exists concerning the benefits of both cross training and adding variety to a workout. In that regard, you should occasionally incorporate more physically demanding activities or modalities into your exercise-training regimen.
  8. Vary the elevation at which you exercise. One of the most challenging ways that you can increase how hard you work when you’re exercising is to increase the vertical incline at which you are moving your body. Such a step requires your body to overcome the demands imposed by gravity, as well as to meet the basic physical requirements of the exercise modality itself. Two of the more common examples of using enhanced elevation while training to increase the level of work are running/walking hills and exercising on a treadmill that has an elevation feature.
  9. Do negative-only or negative-accentuated training. Performing a strength-training exercise involves two types of muscular actions V concentric (positive work where the muscle is shortening) occurs when the weight is being lifted and eccentric (negative work where the muscle is lengthening) happens when the weight is being lowered. Because you can generally lower more weight than you can lift, primarily because of the effects of gravity, one of the most effective ways to increase the amount of work you do while strength training is to perform negative-only training (i.e., do only the negative phase of the exercise). This technique requires that either you have a spotter (partner) to raise the weight for you or equipment that facilitates doing such a method. Negative-accentuated training involves performing the concentric phase with both limbs (arms or legs) and then lowering the weight with only one limb.
  10. Avoid off loading your body’s weight while exercising on a machine. Far too many people lean on an exercise machine while working out. Although such a practice usually enables a person to train longer, seemingly harder, or feel more comfortable, it should strictly be avoided because it can dramatically decrease the amount of work you’re actually doing.

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