Over the past near decade I’ve spent working in gyms, not a day has gone by when I haven’t seen at least one person who could be getting much more out of their weights session. Whether they’re lifting with less-than-ideal technique, rushing their sets, or trying to lift more than they can handle, they could all achieve far better results if they correct these simple errors. So, in this article, I’ll share with you some of my best tips for getting the absolute most benefit out of your weights sessions.
- Make sure to use full range of motion. This is arguably the most important tip, because if you cannot perform an exercise at full range of motion, chances are you aren’t ready for that exercise. The most common example of this that I see is the squat. So many people jump in the squat rack, only to perform the top half of the squat! If you don’t take the muscles and joints through their full range during an exercise, they won’t be properly stimulated and you won’t get the kind of results you could be.
In this particular example (the squat), the medial aspect of the quadriceps muscle group doesn’t completely engage until you reach the bottom 15o of the squat! This means that if you continually perform only top-half squats, part of your quadriceps group will be underdeveloped, eventually (and inevitably) leading to structural balance issues in the knees, and then injury.
Don’t skimp out on range of motion! Not only will you avoid injury, but you’ll hit more muscle fibres, which means more growth and more strength!
- Make use of tempo. For many trainees, tempo is still a foreign concept. But in my opinion, tempo is one of the most crucial variables of a well-designed weights program. For those who haven’t heard of tempo, it refers to the timing of each repetition, split into four phases. I explain these phases in my video here. By manipulating the tempo of your repetitions, you can control the type of benefit you’ll get from the session. For example, sets of fast, plyometric reps will develop explosive power, whereas slow, controlled sets of 45 seconds or more will lead to hypertrophy (muscle growth, or ”tone”).
If you are unsure of how to properly implement tempo into your workouts, it’s a good idea to seek the guidance of an experienced Strength Coach or Personal Trainer (such as myself.) It’s certainly worth a try if you’re serious about getting results.
- Periodize your training appropriately. I see many people in the gym either doing the same workouts every single week and never changing, or training randomly and doing different exercises every single time. While some people enjoy training this way, it’s not a great way to get optimal results.
Doing the same workout every week for 6 months is a great way to hit a plateau and stay there (which is never fun!). On the other hand, changing your workout every single time doesn’t allow for improvement or progression.
As a rule of thumb, try to repeat the same training cycle for no more than 4 weeks, and be sure to modify the variables each week to encourage progression. Again, if this concept seems foreign to you, it’s a good idea to hire a skilled trainer to help take your training to the next level.
If you’ve been struggling to get the progress you want out of your weight training, give these highly effective tips a try. The results will speak for themselves!