≡ Menu

5 Ways to Progress Your Resistance Exercises

One thing I see a lot in the gym or with my new clients that I am talking to, is that they do the same exercises over and over. You might see ( or you might be) someone in your gym who comes in, does the same 20 pushups, 20 squats, 20 overhead press routine day in and day out. And while YES, you are burning calories and getting other benefits of physical exercise.. your muscle fibers and body have most likely hit a plateau.

Sometimes I get the occasional “I run 3 miles every day and I can’t loose any more weight” or “I lift weights 3 times a week and can’t get the muscle tone I want”. Yes folks- these are signs that a plateau has been hit.

Let’s get the science part out of the way. If you want to continue to see results regardless if what your ultimate goal is, the intensity of the training must become progressively greater. This will facilitate changes at the cellular level in both the muscle fibers and the cardiovascular system.

In general, you can increase training intensity by raising the number of weekly training sessions, adding more drills or exercises to each session, and also increasing the weight you lift. What I will focus on in this post is changing the difficulty of resistance exercises as a means for progression.

1) Add an Unstable Surface

Most exercises we perform are on a flat stable surface. BUT- have you ever tried performing exercises on an UNSTABLE surface? Doing so recruits more stabilizer muscles and tests your balance and works your core. The BOSU ball is a great unstable surface to use or any type of balance board. You can also utilize a towel and a smooth hard surface.
Click on the video examples:
Side to Side Dumbbell Squat
Towel Reverse Lunges
Towel Mountain Climbers
BOSU Push Ups

2) Go From Two Legs/Arms to One Leg/Arm

This is one of the most interesting ways to change an exercise. It makes almost any lower body move more intense. If you are working one arm at a time your lower body has to do more work to stabilize itself.
Click on the video examples:
One Leg Squat to Bench
One Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
One Arm Dumbbell Chest Fly

3) Change the Type of Resistance

If you gravitate towards dumbbells, try a barbell, cable machine, kettle bells, or a medicine ball. Movements will always feel different and work the muscles differently when you change the resistance.
Click on video examples:
Kettle Bell Goblet Squat
Medicine Ball Chest Press Throw

4) Change Your Foot or Hand Position

Look for ways you can change your position to makes moves feel a bit different. If you do regular squats, try taking the feet out wide for Sumo Squats. If you do regular deadlifts, try a wide legged deadlift.
You can use extremely wide foot placement or extremely narrow for many lower body exercises. Chest presses can be performed on an incline or decline bench instead of a flat one. Your can experiment with your hand position in pushups, such as the staggered version.
Click on video examples:
Wide Leg Dumbbell Deadlift
Two Move Tricep Press

5) Use the Half Kneeling Position

Try performing certain upper body exercises in a half kneeling position. This not only improves your hip flexibility but also improves your core stability. You can work one arm or both arms at a time. The closer you have your front foot positioned more inline with the back knee, the more difficult the exercise will be. This makes your base of support more narrow and requires more stability from your core.
Click on the video example:
Half Kneeling Kettle Bell Press

Need the expertise to take your workout routine to the next level?

Sign up today for my FREE consultation for 1:1 personal training or online personal training!
Free Consultation3

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Clay Jessop January 23, 2015, 11:09 pm

    This is a great article, many times I find myself plateauing with my workouts. I never knew by simply changing uneven surfaces could cause so much change to your workouts. Thanks for the tips, I look forward to your next blog post!

  • Carla Shoppe June 15, 2016, 3:38 pm

    Love variety workouts always more fun (at least to me doing something different) love to add balance moves into my workouts. Thanks for the tips.

Leave a Comment