Everyone gets bored with working out from time to time. Lack of results, poor gains, burnout and other things can make you want to throw in the towel and hit the showers. Journaling your workouts at the gym, finding a reliable workout partner, hiring a personal trainer, even doing research on the internet can help you come up with fresh ideas to inspire your program. This week let me share with you five techniques that are sure to maximize your workouts by helping you to pack on quality muscle in less time!

1) “Superset” is a widely misused term. Technically, a superset is when you train two opposing muscle groups (i.e. biceps/ triceps, back/ chest, quads/ hamstrings, etc.) with only a small break between exercises. For example, you may do a set of flat bench dumbbell presses for chest, then move quickly using the same weights into a bent over dumbbell one arm row. Go back and forth for three sets of each. Take a break and then alternate incline dumbbell presses and wide grip lat pull downs. Supersets create balance and joint strength and allow one muscle group a brief rest while you blast its opposing muscle group.

2) Compound sets are great especially if you have a problem muscle group that won’t grow. Compound sets are two intense exercises for the same muscle group. For example, perform a set of barbell curls to exhaustion, then move to a set of killer preacher curls to isolate those twin peaks.

3) If you’re really cruising for a burn, go for tri-sets. This means simply that you add a third or even a fourth exercise to the above routine as you max out those mighty arms.

4) Forced reps are a great way to push muscles just a little harder, once they’ve been pretty much exhausted. Just when you think you can’t do another curl, press or squat, recruit someone else’s muscles to help you! That’s right, get a trainer, partner, or buddy to help you squeeze out a couple of forced reps before you rack your weights and call it quits. Just make sure your form doesn’t suffer.

5) Focus on the negative or eccentric contraction during an exercise. For example, during a bicep curl, explode as you bring the weight to your chin (concentric or positive contraction) then as you lower the weight, slow down and focus as you push your muscles to a new level of fatigue. Try doing negatives with bi’s, tri’s, chest, legs, etc., once a month to maximize size and strength. Remember, doing negatives every workout can lead to over- training, so once or twice a month should be enough to make you grow without injuring yourself.

Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer, massage therapist (MA#40288) and fitness writer with his own one on one gym and studio in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Contact with questions or to inquire about his services.