Strength training is more than just picking up weights and putting them down. It doesn’t even stop at good form or dedication. To get the most out of your workout, try next-level hacks to enhance muscle strength.
Plus, switching things up challenges yourself. Working out should engage both the body and mind. Otherwise, you’ll get real bored, real fast. Not sure where to start? Add these five training techniques to your fitness routine.
1. Take Longer Rest Periods
It sounds too good to be true, but longer rest intervals work best. In a 2016 study, two groups of resistance-trained men were assigned total body workouts with either 1-minute or 3-minute rest intervals. Every other variable was constant. After 8 weeks, researchers measured their maximal strength and muscle thickness.
Both were higher in the 3-minute rest groups.1 Finally, a solid reason to take your time!
2. Do Superset Exercises
While longer rest periods have benefits, you can try the opposite – supersetting. This method strings two or more exercises together without rest. In turn, the muscles work extra hard in shorter time.
Supersetting can be done with the same muscle group. For example, you can go from dumbbell curls to wrist curls. Another option is to try different muscle groups, like dumbbell curls to seated rows. This hack is excellent when you’re pressed for time. It won’t be easy, but you’ll get an amazing workout.
3. Restrict Blood Flow
This sounds scary, but the right technique will improve muscle strength. It also lets you work out with lighter weights. Also known as occlusion training, this method restricts blood flow to muscles with exercise bands. The pressure forces blood to pool up, which actually enhances each “pump.” Muscles grow as more fibers are used.
This effect was seen in a 2009 Japanese study. Participants were randomly assigned exercises with four different levels of pressure, with one having no pressure. All three groups that exercised with pressure increased muscular strength and endurance.2 Blood flow restriction training works best on biceps. Tie knee bands high up on your arms, and use 50 percent of your regular weight. It’s perfect if you need to take it easy after an injury.
4. Try Powerlifting
Need a new challenge? Give powerlifting a shot. It looks intimidating, but the results will be worth it. According to a 2014 study, powerlifting and bodybuilding are neck-to-neck when it comes to increasing muscle size.
However, if you want to improve muscle strength, powerlifting-type training is the way to go.3 Of course, don’t just pick a heavy weight and have at it. Be safe and do it with help of a trainer.
5. Drink Water
We’re always told stay hydrated. In the gym, it’s no different even when you aren’t doing cardio. Dehydration increases perceived exertion, making a workout feel harder than it really is. It also reduces the number of repetitions4 and increases the risk for injury.5
The worst part? This can happen with low-moderate dehydration, or 3 percent water loss.6 Make hydration a priority, especially if it’s a hot and humid day.
So are you ready to try out these simple yet effective hacks? Make sure you give it your best shot the next time you go to the gym, you may just get the results you were looking for.
|↑1||Schoenfeld, Brad J., Zachary K. Pope, Franklin M. Benik, Garrett M. Hester, John Sellers, Josh L. Nooner, Jessica A. Schnaiter et al. “Longer interset rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 30, no. 7 (2016): 1805-1812.|
|↑2||Sumide, Takahiro, Keishoku Sakuraba, Keisuke Sawaki, Hirotoshi Ohmura, and Yoshifumi Tamura. “Effect of resistance exercise training combined with relatively low vascular occlusion.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 12, no. 1 (2009): 107-112.|
|↑3||Schoenfeld, Brad J., Nicholas A. Ratamess, Mark D. Peterson, Bret Contreras, G. T. Sonmez, and Brent A. Alvar. “Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 28, no. 10 (2014): 2909-2918.|
|↑4, ↑5, ↑6||Jones, Leon C., Michelle A. Cleary, Rebecca M. Lopez, Ron E. Zuri, and Richard Lopez. “Active dehydration impairs upper and lower body anaerobic muscular power.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 22, no. 2 (2008): 455-463.|