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Smart Solutions to Your Top Fitness Questions

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How Can I Get Stronger?

"I lift weights, but I'm not getting stronger all over. What will help?"

Smart Solution: Three-dimensional training. It sounds techy, but it's not, we swear. "Moving in a three-dimensional pattern [aka multiplanar training] is much more functional than using fixed-path weight machines -- you do it every time you lift a bag or open a door," Bryant says. "Because you also engage more muscles working out this way, you burn more calories, reducing body fat and improving tone."

Try: Adding rotations to some of your favorite moves on top of doing regular calorie-blasting cardio, suggests Fred Hoffman, an international fitness consultant and 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year. For example, do "clock" lunges (where you move forward, sideways, then back) instead of basic lunges; try a core twist at the top of a squat; toss a ball to someone behind you by twisting your torso; or do chest flyes using an exercise band -- but mix it up so your arms move diagonally. Or try a cable-based machine. A recent study showed that people who did exercises using cable machines improved their strength more than twice as much as those who used traditional machines. "Cables provide a bigger range of motion, so you work more muscle fibers in more directions -- front to back, side to side, up and down, and everything in between --to boost your core strength and power," Hoffman says. Two machines to check out: Precor's S3.23 Functional Trainer ($2,699, precor.com for info) and FreeMotion's Dual Cable Cross ($3,500, freemotionfitness.com for info). They both let you set virtually unlimited angles, whether you're doing rows, leg lifts, or presses.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, November/December 2008.

 

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