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When it comes to making an exercise harder, there are two obvious and well-known ways: add more weight or increase the repetitions. However, there are also some lesser-known techniques that can really make an exercise more challenging. Here are three unique ways to make any exercise more difficult:
1) Tempo – Mixing up the tempo of an exercise is one of the best ways to make any exercise more difficult. An example of changing the tempo would be to slow down an exercise, which can be done for time.
Instead of doing a regular pull up, perform a pull-up slowly for three seconds up and three seconds down. Instead of doing a regular paced squat, perform a squat slowly for five seconds down and five seconds up.
Performing an exercise slowly can be applied to any exercise that isn’t a static exercise (such as a plank). Doing so can also stimulate major muscle growth which is great for getting stronger.
2) Adding a Pause – Adding a pause during the most difficult part of the exercise is another way to truly make any exercise more difficult.
An example of this would be to pause at the very bottom of the squat before coming up. Another example would be to pause at the bottom of a pushup before coming up or at the bottom of a lat-pulldown.
A pause can start as just a pause and progress to a few seconds for an even more difficult challenge. This technique can be applied to any movement that isn’t a static exercise.
3) Increase Range of Motion – Lastly, increasing the range of motion (ROM) of an exercise is another great and unique way of making it more difficult. While increasing the ROM isn’t possible for very exercise, it works really well for many.
An example would be instead of doing a normal reverse lunge, place the forward foot up on a step, which greatly increases the range of motion for the exercise. Another example would be to perform a pushup with hands on dumbbells or using a TRX, which also increases the range of motion and level of difficulty.