5 Training methods to take your fitness to the next level

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Bored to death with your traditional and repetitive workouts with set reps, exercises and rest times?

Add some spice to your exercise routine and take your fitness and gains to new heights with the following 5 workout methods and techniques. After all, our bodies thrive and progress when faced with a new challenge, not boring and monotonous workouts.


Amrap

Popular amongst Crossfitters. AMRAP stands for “as many rounds as possible” or “as many reps as possible”.

The goal of an AMRAP as the name suggests is to complete as many rounds as possible or complete as many reps as possible in a set amount of time.

AMRAP workouts are a lot of fun and are a great opportunity to monitor progress and intensify training volume and density as your fitness level, confidence and ability improve. It's also a great way to encourage a self-competitive spirit as you aim to beat your previous results every time you repeat the workout.
 

Benefits of Amrap workouts:

  • It's extremely versatile and can be used with just about any exercise.

  • Is a great way to include different fitness levels in a group training environment.

  • A great form of high-intensity training as you only take breaks when needed.

  • Like most high-intensity workouts, it's great for burning calories both during and after your workout due to an increase in (EPOC) Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption aka the after-burn effect. This is when your body continues to burn calories as it recovers from a tough workout.

  • Can be done anywhere with little to no equipment.
     

Pyramid training

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It's quite possible that you've tired it or even used pyramid training without knowing it. Popular amongst bodybuilders for muscle growth and powerlifters for strength gains, it's a fun and effective way to bring some variation to your training.

While there are a few different ways to do it, the most textbook methods are an ascending pyramid (increasing the weight each set while decreasing the number of reps) or a descending pyramid (Decreasing the weight each set while increasing the number of reps). While both are very effective, which one you choose should be dependant on your fitness goals.

If your goal is to increase strength, you would do an ascending pyramid. Starting light and building the weight up and the reps down as you move your way up the pyramid. By Starting light, you allow for a natural warm up whilst saving your strength and energy for maximum power in the last set/s.

Note: it's important if training from strength gains that you do not rep out on any of earlier sets.

If your goal is to increase muscle size, you should use a descending pyramid or reverse-pyramid as it's also known. By starting with the heaviest weight first, you shift your body into a state of heightened muscle fiber activation. As you decrease the weight and up the reps, you recruit more muscle fibers as you push your muscle to failure on every set. 
 

Tabata

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Tabata training or Tabata protocol is a form of high-intensity interval training. It was originally developed as a way to improve both aerobic and anaerobic performance in athletes but has since become very popular with just about everyone looking for maxim benefit in a minimum amount of time.

While traditional Tabata training calls for an active to rest ratio of 2:1 (20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds rest) for a total of 8 rounds, it's perfectly acceptable to adjust the times and ratios to accommodate your fitness level and goals – Just make sure the rest periods are short enough to prevent full recovery between exercises.

Try the sample intermediate workout below.
 

Sample bodyweight tabata workout - 20 mins (4 rounds)

Benefits of Tabata training:

  • Great for those short on time

  • It's extremely versatile and can be used with just about any exercise.

  • It's great for burning calories both during and after your workout due to an increase in (EPOC) Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption aka the after-burn effect. This is when your body continues to burn calories as it recovers from a tough workout.

  • Can be done anywhere with little to no equipment.

  • Improves aerobic, anaerobic and athletic performance.

Read more about Tabata training here
 

Drop sets

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Drop sets (also known as strip sets or descending sets) is a training technique where you perform an exercise to failure, reduce “drop” the amount of weight and continue for more reps until you reach failure again, drop the weight and repeat. By challenging your muscles to rep out over and over again without rest, you accumulatively activate more muscle fibers which simply isn't as achievable with conventional 8-12 rep sets. By hitting these stubborn hard to reach muscle fibers, you promote better muscle growth.

Note: While drop sets are an extremely good method to challenge both your muscles and mental strength (it's agony), it's not recommended to do it with every exercise and workout as it can be extremely demanding. Instead, try incorporating drop sets into the last couple of exercises of your workouts.

Related article: Get ripped and increase endurance with drop sets

 

Ladder workouts

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Like AMRAP, the goal of Ladder workouts is to complete as many rounds of a set of exercises as possible within a set amount of time. The difference being, with ladder workouts, you start with low reps (1-3) and ascend (1-3 reps at a time) with each subsequent round until the timer runs out or you can't go on (whichever comes first).

Ladder workouts can be a lot of fun and are a great way to increase strength and endurance whilst maintaining proper form, technique and maximising training volume as your fitness level, confidence and ability improve.
 

Benefits of Ladders workouts:

  • Great workout method to improve strength and endurance.

  • Great for all fitness levels.

  • It's extremely versatile and can be used with bodyweight, cardio and weight training exercises.

  • Is a great way to include different fitness levels in a group training environment.

  • Can be a great form of high-intensity training as you only take breaks when needed.

  • When prioritising cardio exercises into a ladder workout format, it can easily classify as a high-intensity workout which, as we know, is great for burning calories.

Sample ladder workout - 20 mins

Exercises:
Squats
Burpees
Push-ups
Rows or pull-ups
Deficit reverse lunges

Instructions:

Start with 3 reps per exercise.
Ascend 1 rep at a time for a total of 20 minutes.
Practice strict form and only rest when needed.
Good luck and enjoy!