Easy tweaks to increase the intensity of your workouts over the Christmas period
‘Tis the season to eat and drink copious amounts and be merry, but ‘tis also the season to not forget about the gym and all your fitness goals. As the festive season approaches, the amount of time you can dedicate to exercise might take a back seat, so here are 4 ways to increase the intensity of your workouts to ensure your sessions remain as effective and as time-efficient as possible.
1) Supersets, tri sets, drop sets, negatives - if you have 90 minutes to workout everyday, then performing straight sets with maximal weights and longer rest makes sense. If however, you find yourself with only 30 to 45 minutes to workout, then a great way to increase intensity would be to incorporate different set structures into your sessions. For example, performing 2-3 exercises back to back with minimal rest in between. Or, incorporating additional work in the form of drop sets, or negatives, enabling a greater amount of volume and muscular fatigue in a shorter amount of time. Now, these systems should not be used all the time, and performing straight sets should form the bulk of your workouts. However, if you are short on time and looking to achieve muscular failure in a time-efficient manner, then be sure to incorporate some of these into your workouts.
2) Full-body vs split workouts - Now, if you are completely set on maintaining a split such as a push, pull, legs and you have the time to do so, then that’s fine. However, if you are only able to get into the gym a couple of times a week, and more often than not, your planned 3 days a week, ends up being more like 2 or 2.5 (if your hungover) resulting in either a mediocre session or a missed body part, then why not switch to a full-body workout. Two full-body workouts a week are better than a push session, a pull session and a missed leg session (or vice-versa). Beyond this, if your aim is to stay lean then full-body workouts are again your friend as you’ll burn more calories due to hitting more major muscle groups everytime you hit the gym. The structure of full-body workouts can vary massively but if you find yourself short on time, give the workout below a go, or tailor the exercises and reps as desired.
30 minute EMOM (every minute on the minute, complete the prescribed reps for that specific minute and then rest for the remainder of the minute).
1st minute - 12 barbell step ups (Left leg),
2nd minute - 12 barbell step ups (Right leg),
3rd minute - 12 barbell overhead presses,
4th minute - 12 single leg Romanian deadlifts with a plate (Left),
5th minute - 12 single leg Romanian deadlifts with a plate (Right),
6th minute - 12 strict pull ups.
Perform with a weight that makes the reps challenging but not impossible to complete whilst avoiding going to failure (in the first few rounds). So by the end that’s 60 step ups and 60 single leg RDLs on each leg, 60 overhead presses, and 60 pull ups, all performed with an appropriate weight and proper form in 30 minutes. Job done.
3) Add finishers to your workout - for me, there is nothing more satisfying than finishing a workout with a hard finisher that really pushes me, even if the rest of the workout may not have been as good. The best thing about finishers? They can be absolutely anything you want. Feel like you didn’t hit your shoulders as much as you would’ve liked in your push day? Add in a shoulder-focused finisher. Want to hit some core work? Add in a core finisher. Feel like you want to finish your workout with a bit of a sweat after your heavy lifting? Add in a cardio-focused finisher, whether that be in the form of a Crossfit-style metcon or on a piece of cardio equipment. Or combine the three. Get as creative as you want with them, no finisher ever needs to be the same. By adding finishers, you ensure you finish the session at a high-intensity. Again, a win-win when short on time.
4) Your go-to home workout - Lastly, have a go-to home workout that you can perform whenever you don’t manage to get to the gym. Whilst it doesn’t have to be the same every time, repeating a workout that you know is effective, time-efficient and full-body is often a better choice rather than aimlessly throwing movements together without direction. The latter likely resulting in a less effective session, especially when motivation may already be lower due to being at home. What’s more, repeating the same workout, or potentially making the reps slightly harder, will ensure progress and create a bit of inner-competition with yourself to beat your previous time. All of this will ensure you are still working as hard as you would in the gym. See the latest Workout of the Week on the group as an example - full-body, minimal equipment, time-efficient, time-focused and easily adjustable reps to make it easier or harder to match your fitness levels or goals.
By Luca Samara