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5 ways to step up your exercise routine

Guides — Posted 30/09/13

Your guide to putting the challenge back into your gym workout.

Continuing to evolve, modify and vary your exercise routine is key to feeling inspired during every session. In order to see and feel continual results you need to keep stepping it up and boosting the intensity levels - which can be a tough ask without a trainer yelling encouragement in your ear. Here are a few ways to up the ante and help you climb up out of your fitness plateau.

1. Reduce time between sets

Short, intense workouts can be very effective. Hit the gym with a plan of attack and execute it with less downtime than you would normally. Fill a drink bottle to avoid taking frequent drink breaks and switch to your next set after only a short breather.

2. Add some instability

Ever tried a squat on a wobble board? The effort to steady yourself without the stability of the floor adds a whole new dimension to the exercise and all sorts of muscles kick in to lend a hand. Seek advice from a trainer to show you the ropes.

3. The in-betweeners

There are loads of different exercises you can do to inject explosive spurts of activity between sets. Grab a skipping rope and head outside for a quick 60 sec skip, do some old school star jumps in the mirror, focusing on a consistent technique, hit the floor for a round of 15 push ups, then try for five more.

4. Increase your intensity

If you've made it to the gym and are dressed for a workout, why not try and just give it a little something extra. Instead of powering up the treadmill and zoning out, tune into your legs turning over and over, be aware of your arms as they pump by your sides and program in some short bursts of high intensity running, before slowing to cool off, then repeat. Take the same approach on other equipment and you will surprise yourself with the sense of empowerment you feel.

5. Bring a buddy

Training partners can go two ways - the greatest distraction or the biggest motivation. Pick someone who will add the latter to your workout and help each other reach your goals. Weights are great with another person spotting, challenge yourself to go that bit harder and be sure to keep a close eye on each other's techniques so you can offer training tips and advice.

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