3 Ways to Have Effective Strength Training Workouts & Stop Wasting Time

Nothing is more frustrating than starting a weightlifting program, putting in the hard work, and still not seeing the results you’re after. It can feel like you’re really wasting your time. But before you give up on your fitness goals, evaluate what changes you might need to make in order to continue working towards better health and fitness.

Maybe you’re struggling with feeling bored while you’re doing your dumbbell workout routine and find yourself taking rests for too long. Or perhaps you aren’t actually challenging yourself enough, or are not performing the exercises with the right form, thereby missing out on super-effective strength training workouts. 

It’s time to stop the excuses and confront whatever might be preventing you from achieving your goals. The key to success is always consistency and being open to learning and improving your technique and form. 

Unlock your Strength

1. Know proper weight lifting form

With proper weight lifting form, you can actually get better results from effective strength training workouts. 

In this video, you will learn to:

  • Avoid momentum: swinging or bouncing the weights only makes your joints work more than your muscles. Control the weight
  • Focus on stability: Do not let the weight change your form
  • Use a full range of motion: Make sure you are not “shortening” the reps unintentionally. Going through a full range of motion from top to bottom position is also good for developing better flexibility.
  • Control the descent: Make sure you are descending in each movement with full control. This will teach you how to keep proper form and how to use the descent phase (eccentric) to make the exercise harder just by slowing it down!

Good to know:

What are the eccentric and concentric phases of the weight-lifting movement?
The eccentric is lowering the weight, lengthening and stretching the muscles while there is still resistance or weight load.

The concentric is when you are lifting the weight and contracting the muscles.
Muscles actually work harder when they are being lengthened, which is why slowing down the eccentric phase (for example, counting 3-4 seconds down and contracting up faster) can enhance muscle and strength gains.

See how it’s done:

2. Make the workout harder with limited weights

Not having access to a variety of weight volumes shouldn’t stop you from committing to your strength training workouts. In this video, you’ll learn to get the most out of the weights you have. 

It’s best to use a weight volume with which you can correctly perform all of your exercises, adding resistance by

  • Lowering the weight slower: Focus on lowering the weight or movement in a controlled manner (the eccentric phase) to increase the load on the muscles, then quickly lift the weight or movement back up. Start with 3-4 seconds count as you lower yourself, then explode up. 
  • Doing 1.5 reps: Use a full range of motion + an extra half rep for each prescribed rep. 
  • Adding a hold: Hold for 2-3 seconds at the bottom of the lowered position for each rep.
  • Adding pulses: Pulse up and down with control, striving for 2-3 pulses or more.

See how it’s done:

Strength training with a resistance band

If you don’t have access to weights, resistance bands are an excellent option for strength training workouts. We recommend

  • Getting a complete set of looped bands and some extra mini bands: the more resistance bands you have, the better results you can get. If you’re limited to just 1-2 bands, you can’t ensure proper progressive overload that makes the exercises harder, gaining strength and muscle. 
  • Looking for bands that are labeled with specified loads: a resistance band is often either labeled in kgs or sorted by color. In general, the thinner bands provide less resistance, and the thicker ones more.
  • Applying the same tips to increase the load with bands as you would with weights: slow down the eccentric phase, add pulses, hold at the bottom of the rep, add a half rep, and use the heaviest bands that you can while maintaining proper form.

Idea:

Here is the best way to attach a resistance band to your door without buying an extra hook:

 

Engage your core in all strength training workouts

When performing weight lifting exercises, it’s important to remember to engage your core, which helps you maintain good form and alignment and adds more resistance to your strength training workouts. 

Learn how to engage your core by

  • Focusing on your breath: Avoid holding your breath while you perform exercises.  Exhale through the movements requiring more effort, and inhale through the descent or reset movement. 
  • Spreading tension throughout the body: The most effective exercises will activate muscles in the whole body. Use control, stability, and tension in the whole body – including the core – when performing every exercise.
  • Not sucking in your abs: The technique for how to engage your core is to breathe in, brace, and pull the belly in towards the spine to feel the tension without letting the air out. 
  • Scaling & modifying the exercise: If you can’t feel your core working in certain core exercises, they might be too hard – causing your other muscles to work too much. Choose a more accessible version instead and build up to a harder version of the exercise as you grow in strength.

See how it’s done:

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Francheska Martinez Francheska Martinez is a functional fitness and movement coach, specializing in ANIMAL FLOW, Pain-Free Performance, and ONNIT Academy Training. In 2015 she graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Exercise Sports Science and has since shared her passion for movement and strength training via blogs, online programs, workshops, and in-person movement retreats. Outside of training and enjoying outdoor activities, Francheska loves exploring the world through the lens of a foodie – one bite at a time! View all posts by Francheska Martinez