March 21, 2016

Be a Creative Genius on the Weight Floor

I am a creature of habit. I love my routine and my schedule. Some might refer to my love of routine as *cough,cough*….’boring.’ But I like to think of it as being a maven of schedulingšŸ˜. Routine and habit is great in a lot of ways. It keeps me on my game, and allows for consistency. But sticking to the same old routine and habits in weight lifting isn’t really that beneficial. I mean, after a while your body adjust to your routine…and let’s be honest it does starts to get a bit dull doing the same thing over and over again, week after week.

As a fairly new weight lifter I really struggled with trying to be creative with my exercises. I felt like if it wasn’t on “the plan” then I was lost. So those times when a machine or bench was taken, I truly was lost. I would stand there frozen with contemplation of what I should do next.

Changing up your routine is extremely important for engaging your mind and body. It helps to develop a confidence in knowing your way around the weight floor, and helps you learn what works and what doesn’t. It also gives you a larger “bank” of ideas while working out for those times when your beloved machine or bench is taken. And I think we’ve all been there before.

Changing up your routine each day doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, it’s EASY! Of course different things work for different movements, but there are ways to make very simple changes to basic moves to help you be a creative genius in the weight room.

1. Change your grip.
You can easily change your grip. There are different options depending on the machine, equipment, and movement you are doing but there are five main ones I like to think of; overhand, underhand, wide grip, narrow grip, and angled grip. Below I’m demonstrating grip angles on a tricep extension and pull-up. You can change grips on many other different exercises also.

2. Change cable attachment.
Have you been to the gym and seen all those different attachments by the cable machines and thought “where do I start,” “what are those for?” Just try and use them and change up you favorite go to exercises. The attachments automatically change the feeling of movements because it changes your grip and positioning of your arms. For example on tricep day I love to use the rope, straight bar, and short handles for tricep extensions.

3. Switch the type of weight & resistance.
You can easily switch the type of weight you are using to give one specific movement a completely different feeling. Below I’m showing a front shoulder raise on 5 different types of resistance. The fact that you can take one basic exercise, change the type of resistance, and make multiple variations just by making one little change is a-maz-ing! Isn’t it? Now when you are at the gym and need a quick change up to your routine, this is a fast fix.

4. Using machines differently….sometimes.
Ok, so none of us want to be on the next “Epic Gym Fail” video that is circulating the Internet, so make sure if you are trying to be creative with machines that 1) it is safe, and 2) it allows for proper movement. If you have to strain your back or other parts of your body to get a machine to do something it was not designed to do…don’t do it. But with that said, there are million and one ways to use machines differently. Sometimes this is a little tricker than the other switches I’ve listed, and might require some preplanning.

5. Try a new Foundation.
Changing the foundation you are performing a excercise on is an easy way to add variation. Below I’m showing you a row in many different variations. Of course, you can use the idea of “changing the foundation” on many different exercises.

6. Alternating Movements
Don’t underestimate alternating movements. In alternating and focusing on one side at a time, I feel like it helps me do two things. 1) go heavier in weight 2) really focus on the contraction of the muscle itself. I know that my left side is naturally weaker than my right side. Sometimes I even have trouble feeling movements the same from one side to another. So in doing alternating movements it allows for more intense focus per side.

7. Try different type of sets.
This is a big one for me. I love to change the types of sets I do quite often. Recently I’ve been focusing on pyramid and drop sets. Using different types of sets really gives me that good sore feeling the next day. Changing up sets is a great way to keep your body from adjusting to your routine.

8. Tempo
Tempo in weight lifting is not just about how fast or slow you are performing a movement. It is how fast or slow each part of an exercise is performed. For example, if you are doing a bicep curl you could lower the weight in 3 seconds, pause at the bottom for 1 second, and curl up for 2 seconds. It your muscle under tension for a longer period of time, and helps to build muscle. There are a bazillion articles on the internet on tempo and what works best for what movement. But I do believe that playing around with what works best for you is your best bet.

9. Find new ideas online.
As some of you know, I am a bit of a Instagram addict. It is not only a great platform to connect to people with the same interests, it is a great way to find new ideas. You can find new ideas by following people with fitness focused pages, and by searching hashtags like #shoulders #legday #backexercises etc. Facebook is also a great way to get fresh ideas, because there are so many motivating groups and pages. has great plans and articles, and I use this website quite often. Gorgo Magazine is a magazine geared towards women and always has fabulous training ideas, articles, and workout plans.

So if you are ever in a situation where you are struggling to think of new ideas, remember you can make simple adjustments to old ideas and make them fresh again. So get out there, get out of your routine, and give these ideas a try! Please feel free to leave comments below on what worked for you.

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