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As you progress in fitness, you will often “outgrow” your equipment. This doesn’t mean that you have to quit progressing and pushing, and this doesn’t mean that you have to go drop a boatload of cash on the biggest and best equipment and dumbbells. One of the huge reasons that Beachbody programs are so successful is that you don’t need a lot to get amazing results.

When you are likely to see this “problem.”

Starting out doing P90X and Insanity, you always have a lot of room to grow. For P90X, so many of the exercises are for max reps. It normally takes people a couple rounds to be able to do more push-ups and pull-ups than the time Tony allows. Even in that case, you could stop the DVD and finish out your set if you’re throwing up monster numbers of push-ups and pull-ups. For Insanity, you up the intensity by going harder. You jump higher, squat lower, and strive for no breaks. But as you start getting super fit you might realize that your dumbbells are starting to be too light for the 8 to 12 rep range, or you may want to focus on size more and not do 50+ reps for every push-up set. When you get to this point, there are solutions …

1.) More Weight

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This is a pretty obvious one (and not really making the most of the gear you have…). BUT you can buy more weight. As you look long-term, an investment in dumbbells will almost always pay off. As long as you’re buying quality adjustable or real dumbbells, you’ll have them forever. I used only a set of Bowflex 552s for the longest time. I then decided to get a set of Powerblocks that went to 70 pounds. A few years back, I got a full rack of 5-100 lb dumbbells, which is amazing, but I never had them during my first several rounds of P90X and as you might know, I got awesome results.  You might be thinking, “How can Coach Wayne be that big with only 70 pound dumbbells?” I will tell you more on that later… But investing in some dumbbells that allow you to grow is a great investment if this is an actual lifestyle change.

For push-ups and pull-ups, you can add a weight to a backpack like I did or look into a weighted vest. Again, if you buy a quality vest it can last a lifetime. Adding weight to your push-ups and pull-ups will put you closer to that hypertrophy zone and really help you gain strength.

2.) Slow DOWN

One of the best ways to make lightweights heavy is to slow down. If you’ve done Body Beast you know about the Tempo workouts. Slowing down each repetition increases your time under tension and will make those lightweights seem really heavy. I’m sure you’ve seen this in P90X as well. Remember those Slow/Fast push-ups in CST? You can’t even begin to think you’ll hit the numbers you do on a Chest and Back set when you’re going down for a 4 count and then up for a 4 count. The same is true for any movement that uses dumbbells. Start by counting up 4 and down 4. The burn will get there, and get there quickly!!! Try this on your push-ups and  pull-ups as well.

3.) Do more reps.

Sure you might not be in the ideal 8 to 12 rep range for building muscle, but just like Tony says, search for that burn. When I only had dumbbells up to 50 pounds, I would do TONS of reps on moves like Lawnmowers. My back is really strong and 50s was too light. I didn’t have more weights, so I made what I had work. You are still doing your body good!

4.) Change Programs

Finally, you can also change your program up.  Changing the type of stimulus you’re giving your muscles is really powerful. As you train a certain way for a long time you often aren’t challenged as much. So change your style of workouts! Pick up a new program and work through it. If you’re blowing out your reps in P90X, try X2. Take on Body Beast even! A program change can be an extremely humbling experience. With X2, adding the element of balance will make you feel weak again. You haven’t lost strength, you are just bringing up lagging areas and becoming strong as a whole.

What this really boils down to…

MAKE IT HAPPEN! You can skate through workouts or you can find ways to make them challenging. It’s always up to you! Don’t make the excuse, “I don’t have enough weight” or “I only have bands…” NO! Slow your reps down, SQUEEZE each one, make a MONSTER loop with that band… but MAKE IT HAPPEN! Look on Craigslist for some used plate weight and purchase a backpack. BUT MAKE IT HAPPEN! Do more reps, push harder, jump higher. It’s up to you!

***I have since invested in some more equipment. I did it really slowly and made sure to get gear that would last. That is the final part of the equation. When all is said and done, if you need more, save up and get it. Almost all quality weights and equipment will last forever if you take care of it. So as long as this isn’t some flash in the pan, don’t feel bad about saving up and investing in great workout gear! It’s keeping you healthy and strong!

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