Typically, when people start working out, they start to notice the results of their hard work within a few short weeks. Muscle and bone density become more apparent and, as a result, personal morale surges.
Fast forward a few months and you'll notice a dramatic change in your energy and strength levels. This typically motivates exercisers to push through some grueling reps. After all, like they say, "no pain, no gain."
Fast forward a few more months and you might stop seeing dramatic gains. Improvements aren't coming in as fast or as noticeably as they once did. Since humans are amazing at adapting, our bodies become accustomed to the hard work and we hit a wall, experiencing what's known as a "plateau effect." It's during these plateaus that most people quit — without results to motivate, it's easier to stop.
To combat those sh*tty plateaus, trainers introduce new, varied training methods to keep the body unprepared — unable to acclimate — which causes muscles to grow once again. If you're looking to change up your routine, consider the following methods.
Most gym goers take a break after completing one set — usually to check their social media. Instead, consider introducing a second exercise that focuses on a different muscle group before resting. For example, if you're doing 12 reps on an EZ-curl bar, knock out 12 triceps extensions prior to your social-media checkup.
Also known as "high-intensity interval training," this killer method is a popular way of burning fat and increasing physical endurance. The idea is to maintain a high work-to-rest ratio — between 1:1 and 2:1. For example, to achieve a 1:1 ratio, you'll exercise hard for a short burst and then rest just as long immediately afterward. A 2:1 ratio means that you're resting half as long as you're exercising.
Trainers usually put their clients through dozens of rounds of HIIT training before calling it a day.
Surfing the rack
Despite the name, this has nothing to do with going to the beach — although you'll probably want to be seen with your shirt off after a few weeks of this training. Surfing the rack simply means walking up to the free weights and repping with the heaviest load you can manage. Then, after you've exhausted yourself, step down in weight and continue to get reps in.
Most trainers recommend you reduce the load by about 20 percent per step.
Training until failure
Most people never want to fail — which is a good thing. However, "going to failure" in the gym is an epic way to tear your muscles in a controlled environment. Be careful, though — going until failure is tough on your body and can make you nauseous from time to time.
When working out, many people select a manageable weight, complete 8-to-12 reps, re-rack the weight, and take a break. This is a solid way to build muscle, sure, but it'll also set you on your way to that progress plateau we talked about earlier.
In a drop set, a person selects a manageable weight, and does reps until failure. Next, they opt for a lower weight and continue on. It's very similar to surfing the rack, minus the rack itself.
Now, get out there and keep those muscles guessing.