There are hundreds – if not thousands – of different exercise programs and regimes out there that all claim to be the best. There are even more “miracle diets” advertised. It can be confusing trying to decide which are fads and which actually work. However, one thing is crystal clear: if you’ve been following a fitness program for a few weeks, months, or even years, and have seen good results but still feel like you haven’t hit your peak physique, then it’s time to implement some specific changes. There’s a barrier between good and great – and although it’s difficult to break, there are some particular things you can do. To help you, we’ve searched for advice from some of the best fitness trainers, models, and athletes in the business. Therefore, if you want to reach the next level in your training, check out these 10 fitness tips that will take you from good to great.
You’ve more than likely heard that interval sprints are a great way to burn fat, and they are — but you can go one step further. “Get on the hill!” says trainer . “If you’re serious about leaning out and staying strong, there’s no better conditioning tool than hill sprints.”
Woltering recommends sprints because they don’t eat away at lean muscle mass – instead, they build it. “Hill sprints are awesomely challenging and might even improve leg strength,” he says. Try searching around your area for sledding hills and reservoirs to get started.
One technique Woltering regularly uses to reignite his training progress is focusing on sets of 3 and 5 reps, especially after he’s been doing higher-volume work. “They’re low enough to allow for heavyweights but high enough to still require an honest effort on every set,” Woltering explains.
In Woltering’s experience, using less weight and doing more reps works far better for building strength than doing singles. This is especially useful at the beginning of your workouts before moving into higher-volume isolation work. Also, it can be an effective way to burn calories and maintain strength!
Ensure you’re monitoring and tracking your nutrition as much as possible. “Diet is the number one contributing factor to a head-turning physique,” says Dymatize athlete Cody Flynn. “Start tracking what you eat and make adjustments as you go.” Apps such as MyFitnessPal can make the process easier.
Flynn suggests playing around with your total calorie intake until you see your body weight moving in the direction you want — either gaining muscle or losing fat — then adjusting your macros from there. “I typically use the split of 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fat,” Flynn says.
If you want to take your training to the next level, you need to do something different than before. “Always switch things up, never doing the same routines month after month,” says fitness model . This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to find an entirely new fitness plan.
Making small, manageable changes — such as adjusting your rep range, grip, or the type of resistance — can have a dramatic effect on the overall progress you make. Additionally, try taking shorter rest periods if you want to increase your calorie burn, or lifting in a slightly lower rep range if you’re going to build strength.
If you’ve been training for an extended period without a specific goal in mind, it’s time to re-examine your approach. You need to determine exactly why you’re training. Is it to gain strength? Lose weight? Enhance your muscles? If you don’t know, it’s difficult to understand how to train most effectively and how to measure your progress consistently.
Have a goal in mind that you’re slowly working toward. Write it down, reference as needed, and establish small goals every week. It might be frustrating at times, but tracking your progress will keep you motivated and help you stick to your end goal.
Just as it’s essential to get yourself physically ready for your workouts, you also need to ensure you’re mentally psyched up for success. “I like to use the power of visualization,” says bikini competitor Cassandra de la Rosa. “Visualizing yourself can help you realize the potential you have to keep pushing through those hard workouts.”
Visualization can be a compelling technique when used correctly and regularly, so give it a shot on those days when you’re feeling slow and unmotivated. Picture everything — what you’ll wear, the gym layout, and how you’ll hit more personal targets than the day before.
Measuring your meals and accurately assessing your intake with a food scale is vital, according to some trainers and fitness enthusiasts alike. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about calories in versus calories out. Total protein intake comes next, followed by carbs and fat.
“You may be thinking that a little extra won’t matter as long as you’re eating clean, but everything counts,” says de la Rosa. Taking in excess calories — whether healthy or not — still means you’ll have to work harder in the gym to compensate.
“Make sure you get adequate nutrition and rest daily,” says fitness model Jared Groff. “Both are equally important. You break down tissue in the gym, but you grow through proper rest and nutrition.” Many people just focus on exercise and neglect these other two important aspects of ensuring success.
Make sure you’re getting roughly one gram of protein per pound of body weight and, for meals, aim for a palm-sized portion of protein, a thumb of fat, and a cupped hand’s worth of vegetables or complex carbs. Also, aim to get eight hours of sleep every night, and fit a rest day into your exercise program.
Make sure you never find yourself simply going through the motions of your training program, as training without intent and focus is almost like not training at all. To get incredible results in the gym, you have to push yourself to the maximum.
“It’s not about the weight—it’s about the contraction,” IFFB physique pro says. “The goal is to tear your muscle fiber for growth, so you have to feel the muscle working.” He recommends that you focus on different angles to work different muscle fibers. “It will help you take your physique to a new level,” he adds.
After developing a good strength base, consider refining your physique by focusing on details. Isolation exercises are good for this, but they can be even more effective with specific tweaks. Taking the time to refine form and maximize contraction will help you push past barriers and reach the next level of training.
“For my quads, I put a squeeze ball between my legs as I’m doing leg extension. This helps me build my vastus medialis while keeping my knees tracking properly,” says IFBB pro-, adding, “While doing my hamstring curls, I let the weight down slowly and then explode upwards, pulling the bar to my glutes.”