7 ways to make workouts more challenging

Nancy Heijnis
2 December 2022
Reading time: 5 minutes

Just like with your work or study, the challenge is also very important with sports. Perhaps the most important thing. Challenge gives you motivation to train, it ensures that exercising remains fun and you also get the best results when you know how to challenge yourself again and again. Still, this can be tricky. Because how do you ensure that your workouts remain challenging? Of course there is the standard option to add weight. However, this is not the only way to provide more challenge. In this blog we therefore look beyond that: we give you 7 tips to make your workout challenging!

7 tips for a challenging workout

#1 Create tension in the muscles

An important part of your workout is the tension in your muscles. This not only provides more challenge, but is also important to promote the increase in muscle size and muscle endurance. An option to create more tension is to hold the peak longer during your workout. You often lift a weight during an exercise and then lower it again quite immediately. However, once your muscles are fully contracted, try to hold it for a few more seconds. To the edge of cramp, and then slowly lower the weight. Holding on causes fatigue in the muscles, but in the best possible way and with the desired result!

#2 Time Under Tension (TUT)

In addition to maintaining the peak, you can also promote muscle growth by performing your exercises slowly. A common term used for this in the fitness world is time under tension, also known as TUT. During a TUT training you try to keep the muscles under intensive tension for between 30 and 40 seconds during the sets. This in contrast to an average set where this is 15 to 25 seconds. The TUT count therefore ensures that your muscles are under tension for almost twice as long as when an exercise is performed quickly (and carelessly). The longer the repetition, the greater the impact on your muscles!

#3 1.5-Rep Technique

Another way to make your workout more challenging without having to add weight is the 1.5-Rep technique. A fairly simple concept, which makes the exercise many times more difficult. The idea: Lower the weight, raise it halfway, lower it all the way, then raise it all the way. This counts as one repetition. It may sound easy, but in practice you will soon notice that it puts your muscles to the test! This is an effective training technique, especially with exercises such as Bulgarian Split Squats, pull ups or inverted rows.

#4 Turn up the intensity

By increasing the intensity of an exercise you take your training to the next level. Unlike our previous tips, this actually boils down to doing more reps in the same amount of time or doing the same number of reps in less time. In short, you force your muscles to do more work in a shorter time frame. Make sure that you continue to perform the exercises carefully!

#5 Add cardio

Cardio still remains an obstacle for most of us. We’d rather pick up some extra weights than go for the treadmill. Still, cardio is an important part of your training schedule. Does performing a full cardio session still bother you? Then you can also benefit from the benefits of this training by adding a cardio exercise to a circuit or resistance training. For example, combine a superset, such as pull-ups or push-ups, with a cardio exercise, such as jumping rope or running.

#6 Shorten rest periods

Another well-known way to increase your challenge is to shorten your rest periods. This shortens your training time, but despite that you do not compromise on results. How it works? In traditional sets, you perform one set, rest for 2-3 minutes, perform the next set followed by another 2-3 minutes of rest, and finish with a third set. If you shorten the rest period, you perform 3-5 mini-sets, which are interrupted by rest periods of only 20-30 seconds. An effective training method where you don’t have time to dawdle and your muscles get an extra boost!

#7 Drop sets

Our last tip for more challenge and excitement during your training? Drop sets. This is a very effective way of training to promote your muscle size and muscle endurance. With drop sets you lower the weight after each set. First grab the maximum weight where you can just make 5 to 8 repetitions. Then decrease the weight by 10 to 30% after each set. Make sure to take breaks between sets as short as possible and perform the sets to failure. You can perform drop sets in several ways. Curious about all our tips on this, read our full blog about drop sets!

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