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Faster Workouts, Bigger Gains

In the September ’11 Reader’s Digest the feature “Life” had a number of sections on how to do things better and more efficiently. One section was titled, “How to Get More Done,” and every tip can be applied to your workout—I’ve altered the title of each tip to reflect that. If you’re looking to get bigger and stronger faster, here’s your checklist:

1) Have a workout plan. Don’t just jump into a workout without having a “map” of what you’re going to do. It could be in your head, but it’s best to draft a workout—have a training journal with exercises you plan to do. Even better, write down your sets, reps and poundages so you can try to better your performance at your next session.

2) Time your rests between sets. You’ll better tax the muscle—and you won’t waste time chatting. Most trainees rest too long, getting distracted. Wear a watch with a sweeping second hand to keep your breaks conducive to packing on muscle—short rests are best—or building strength—about three minutes.

3) Be in the zone. Here’s where technology can help you stay focused, as in an iPod. Your favorite tunes can crank up your motivation—plus the earbuds will keep others from talking to you. If music is distracting, just wear the earbuds without turning on music. People won’t bug you.

4) Talk to yourself. Okay, you don’t have to actually mutter phrases like, “I’m gonna grow now.” But in your mind continually give yourself positive affirmation, like, “I’m getting 10 reps with this weight,” or “My arms are going to be bigger after this exercise.” Remember Arnold visualizing his biceps as mountains? Same principle.

5) Travel light. You want to be able to move from one piece of equipment to another quickly. Don’t drag a lot of gear around the gym. All you really need is a towel and your workout journal. Straps? There are models that stay snug wrapped around your wrist with Velcro closures ( Lifting belt? Keep it on loosely when you’re not doing heavy lifts that tax your lower back.

6) Have an alternate plan. What happens if you’re short of time and can’t get in a full workout? You should always have an abbreviated version ready to go—just in case.

7) Know alternate exercises. If your favorite piece of equipment is occupied by three guys doing sets back to back, you’ll have to improvise—unless you’re Bruce Lee and can knock out all three with one wheel kick. Have substitute exercises written in your journal under each main exercise. If your primary is taken, go to your second choice.

Those seven tips should help you get through your workout in one to 1 1/2 hours max—any longer than that and you’re either slacking or have too much in your program. Minimize, and you’ll build muscle size.


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