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Small Tweaks, Big Gains - Make These Adjustments To Your Exercises

Learn how to make small adjustments to some common exercises to really see maximum results from each workout you do.

After you’ve been hitting the gym for a while and have good form down pat, it’s time to take a look at what you can be doing to get more from each workout you do. How you perform the exercises you’re doing is going to have a large influence on the results that you see and some exercises can be tweaked slightly to produce superior progress.

Let’s look at a few of these adjustments so you can see how you should go about doing them in your workout routine.

Single Leg Split Squat

Small Tweak: Pressing up through the heel

Big Results: Greater glute development

When doing your split squats, rather than thinking of pressing up through the forefoot, think of pressing up through the heel while leaning backward ever so slightly. Doing so is going to place more stress on the glute muscles specifically, really helping you see maximum muscle development.

Leaning forward can actually put great strain on your lower back joints, so should be avoided entirely.

Single Arm Rows

Small Tweak: Thumbless grip

Big Results: Better back activation

When doing your bent over rows, rather than gripping like you would normally with the thumb around the bar and fingers on the other side, place the thumb on the same side your fingers are.

Doing so will help you use your biceps less to pull the weight up, putting more tension on those mid-back muscles. At first it can take some time to get used to this grip pattern, but if you do it often enough, soon you’ll find you come to prefer it.

Bicep Curls

Small Tweak: Turn in at the peak of the contraction

Big Results: Greater definition

When doing a bicep curl, you can make a small adjustment to the way you perform it that will make the exercise that much more effective. Rather than simply curling the weight up keeping the palms upright as normal, you’ll want to instead curl up and then twist the dumbbell in at the very top.

This small twist will help you reach full muscular contraction with the biceps, ensuring optimal force development.

Really think of shortening the bicep muscle as you do this for maximum progress.

Leg Press

Small Tweak: Foot placement

Big Results: Better focused results

Finally, the last tweak is your foot placement when doing the leg press exercise. How you place your feet here will all depend on the main muscles you want to work. By placing the feet higher up on the platform, you’ll hit your glutes and hamstrings to a larger degree while placing them lower on the platform will hit your quads better instead.

Then, if you want to really hit the outer quads and get that ‘quad sweep’ as it’s called (the outer definition of the quad), you can place the feet low on the platform with the feet closer together with the toes slightly turned in. You’ll really be feeling it then.

So there you have a few adjustments that you’ll want to try making next time you head in for a resistance training session. These changes may all seem relatively small, but they will lead to big results.

Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 12 years now. She is a regular contributor to and has also been named 'Writer Of The Year' two times running. She's also contributed well over 400 articles to a variety of different websites dedicated towards muscle building and athletic performance.

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