10 Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Workouts

If you've been working out for months and years, chances are good that your progress has slowed. You may still be making gains in strength and muscle growth, but you're not seeing the results you want considering the time invested.

Here are a few simple ways you can double the effectiveness of your workouts:

Switch it up 
Don't do the same number of sets of reps of the same exercises with the same weight. Instead, change up your workout -- switching barbells for dumbbells, dumbbells for kettlebells, heavy weight for light weight, and high-rep workouts for low-rep workouts. The change will do wonders for your muscles, and you'll start making progress again.

Work out a new way
Most people do more pushing exercises (chest, shoulders and triceps) than pulling exercises (back and biceps), but this can lead to poor posture, fatigued muscles and slower gain. Instead, do 3 pulling exercises for every 2 pushing exercises, and you'll start to see better overall muscle definition.

Add resistance bands 
Attach resistance bands to the barbells, dumbbells and machines that you are working with. Using resistance bands WON'T increase the amount of weight you are lifting, they simply make exercise more difficult by increasing the resistance. A few weeks of resistance bands and you'll be ready for a serious increase in weight.

Hit your shoulders 
Many people fail to see gains in their chest and arms simply because they don't spend enough time on their shoulders. Show your shoulders some extra love by doing Upright Rows, Dumbbell/Barbell Raises, etc. It will give them extra definition, and will help to strengthen the joints that do most of the upper body work.

Speed up the curls
Instead of doing slow, controlled curls, bang out a set of curls at top speed. This will hit the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your biceps, helping to build both strength and size effectively.

Move your elbows
Did you know the position of your elbows during your curls affects the part of the bicep that is targeted? Curl with your elbows by your stomach to hit the inside of your biceps, or move those elbows back toward your kidneys to target the outer muscle. Changing positions can help to give your biceps more equal definition.

Do all compound workouts 
If you do a lot of curls, tricep kickbacks, Skull Crushers and Leg Curls, you're not going to see the same full body progress that you would if you did compound workouts like Bench Presses, Cable Pull-Downs and Deadlifts. Do ONLY compound exercises for a few weeks to build improved strength in all your muscles.

Switch to bodyweight 
Instead of just doing bench presses in your workout, throw in a few dozen push-ups. Bodyweight training won't build the massive muscles that heavy weights can, but you will have much more functional strength -- which will come in handy when lifting around the house and gym.

Hit your core harder
One of the main things that can stop you from making progress at the gym is a weak core (back, abs and obliques). Spend more time doing exercises that work out individual muscles along with the core (Single-Arm Overhead Presses, Push-Up Planks, etc.) and you'll start to see real progress.

Remove your shoes
This may sound silly, but for those who want to build stronger legs with fewer knee problems, it works! Shoes lift your heels from the floor, which takes the strain off your hamstrings and glutes and focuses more on the quads--not a good thing! Go shoeless to improve the angle of ALL your lower body workouts. Note: Use clean socks if your gym says "no" to barefoot training, or buy minimalist shoes.