5 Ways to Fast-Track Your Strength Training
If you've stopped getting results from your strength-training routine, it's time to shake things up. Pick any of these five simple strategies to wake up your muscles.1. Move Quickly from Upper to Lower Body
Alternate upper- and lower-body exercises without rest in between to up your caloric burn exponentially, says celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, whose clients include Jennifer Lopez. Moving quickly from biceps curls to squats, for example, can raise your heart rate by forcing blood to shunt from your arms to your legs. Work this technique into your routine once a week.2. Drop the Weight
Squeeze every ounce of effort out of your muscles with drop sets, says Mark Jenkins, owner of International Fitness in New York City. This technique recruits more muscle fibers for faster results. Start with a weight heavy enough to fatigue muscles in 10 reps. Use a slightly lighter weight for a second set. Then go even lighter for a third set (for example: 10 pounds to 8 pounds to 5 pounds). Do this only once a month, as it can cause significant muscle soreness.3. Work Two Muscle Groups at Once
Save time and burn more calories with a series of total-body moves targeting several muscle groups together, suggests Alwyn Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California. Try adding triceps presses to squats or front shoulder raises to lunges. This technique isn't highly fatiguing, so try it once a week, says Cosgrove.4. Balance on One Leg
Using one foot instead of two during strength moves will recruit the muscles in your core, helping you sculpt flat, sexy abs, says Jenkins. Stand on one leg for everything from shoulder presses to squats. Because you have to work harder to maintain your balance, you may need to use slightly lighter weights with this technique, says Jenkins.5. Team Up on One Muscle
Zap your most persnickety parts into shape by doing back-to-back exercises for the same muscle group. For example, blast your legs with a squat followed by a lunge, suggests Jenkins. To attack your abs, do bicycles followed by reverse crunches. This pushes your muscles to total exhaustion, so don't try it more than twice a month.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, May 2006.
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