Three Ways to improve your workouts TODAY (without changing your programming)

Guys, I’m not perfect in the gym. I’ll admit it; I sometimes look at my phone too much. Sometimes, I just go there and go through the motions, and I know I’m not really working hard enough. We’ve all been there; we’re only human.

But MOST of the time, even if I only go for 30 minutes, even if I’m not feeing it, I get a good and effective workout in. Why? Because I’ve been doing this A LONG TIME, and I’ve learned some things about how to make the most of the time we have in the gym to maximize results.

Below are my top three tips, garnered from my own experience as well as lessons learned from some of the top body builders and strength coaches out there, people I’ve been lucky enough to work with. I promise you, if you take these tips to heart and truly enact them with mindfulness and focus, you will see progress faster than you would otherwise. You’ll get more out of your workouts, both physically and mentally.

Some of this you may have seen before, and some of it may seem pretty “simple,” but that’s kind of the trick, isn’t it? The real keys to success in getting stronger and building muscle are simple strategies that have been around forever: they’re free and widely available, but they require work and consistency. And for that reason, not enough people are doing them, or are not doing them for long enough for those strategies to work.

It’s the same with dieting; most people do it 70 percent of the way and wonder why they aren’t seeing the changes they want. Or, they stop a week or two before the changes would really kick in. There is nothing simpler, more effective, and more difficult than consistency, but it works, if you’re willing to work.

So, here we go! If you want to learn more about working with me one-on-one, reach out, or you can learn everything you ever need to know about building muscle, eating properly, recovering well, and optimizing your body composition with our Muscle Science for Women program.

    • TIP 1: SLOW DOWN. Don’t just go through the motions, slow your movements down much more than you think you need to. If you haven’t even thought about tempo before, start by doing that. Using the example of a bicep curl, think about slowing down the eccentric part of the lift (the lengthening of the bicep) to five seconds. You can make the concentric part more explosive, or slow that part (the shortening of the bicep) to five seconds as well. You’re going to feel a lot more burn with a lot less weight! More time under tension is better than adding more weight to a sloppy, rushed movement.

      I’m not the one to tell you to set up a tripod at the gym (I know everyone’s doing it these days, but I just can’t) BUT, if you have an opportunity to film yourself doing an exercise, I bet it will be illuminating – you may think you’re executing a movement super slow and steady, and find out when it’s played back that you’re actually bustling through pretty quick ;) Weight lifting seconds are longer than regular ones, it’s science. But the fact remains, the longer your muscle is contracted and under tension, the more of a workout it’s getting. That is more important than how heavy the weight is.
    • TIP 2: FOCUS. Mind-muscle connection; we talk about it at length in our Muscle Science for Women program, and it’s really a thing. Think about painting a picture: if your brain is 100 percent focused on what your hand is doing, what your brush is doing, what colors you’re using, I’m pretty sure the end result will be better than if you’re thinking about a fight you had on the internet the other day, or what groceries you have to pick up later, or what you’re going to eat for dinner…you get the point.

      Stop thinking about getting to the last rep as fast as possible, or what you have to do when you leave the gym. doing your reps, just think about perfecting your movement, slowing your movement, and contracting the muscle that is supposed to be working. Not only will you get a better workout and build muscle faster, it’s also an excellent mindfulness and even meditation practice. Being more in our body, and less in our head, can reap a lot of positive results in the gym.
    • TIP 3: INTENSITY. We talk a lot on the Muscle Science for Women podcast about the dangers of overtraining and burnout, and how crucial it is to program proper recovery time into your training, and make sure the intensity of your programming fits appropriately into the context and stress levels of your life. Most of us shouldn’t—and won’t benefit from—two hour-long CrossFit classes six days a week.


      When you’re lifting weights, it should be hard. You should sweat, your muscles should shake, your heart rate should go up. If you’re doing a leg day and you aren’t breathing a little heavy after your sets, you aren’t working hard enough. If the last few reps of every set don’t make you grimace, maybe grunt a little, or even fail a rep, you probably aren’t going hard enough.

      You have to use your own discretion as to what is safe, but for most of us, we aren’t pushing ourselves as hard as we could in the gym—and pushing ourselves hard, harder than last week, maybe a little harder than we want to, that’s what builds muscle.

      If you leave the gym looking as great as you did going in (ie not disheveled, sweaty, and a little red in the face) think about adding more reps, more weight, less rest, and more overall intensity to your routine. Then, go eat and rest so you can do it again.

Bonus tip: Use the treadmill properly, for the love of…

If you like to use the treadmill to get your steps in, and maybe do some brisk but low-intensity cardio, I BEG you, use the incline setting properly! If you jack the treadmill up to a 10 incline, but hold onto the hand rails and lean back, you are LITERALLY doing the same thing as if you were walking on a flat surface. Think about walking up a steep hill: are you leaning back with your body perpendicular to the hill? Of course not, that defies the laws of physics and would not make any practical sense. When you walk up a steep hill, you lean forward, using your quads and glutes to propel you up the slope. That’s what it should look like when you’re doing a steep incline walk on a treadmill. If you don’t feel comfortable NOT holding onto the rail, that’s fine, but do your best to “walk naturally” using the handrail just for support; don’t adjust your body such that you’re walking the exact same way as you would if the treadmill was flat.

I hope this helps! Want more tips? Let me know in the comments.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published