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25 Ways to Improve Your Workout

You never have to endure a bad workout again. Inject these 25 tips into your daily routine to start supercharging your gym sessions.

By Jim Stoppani, PhD, and Eric Velazquez
25 Ways to Improve Your Workout

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During Your Workout

You don't want to be a going-through-the-motions kind of guy in the gym. If you've gone through the trouble of suiting up for a workout, you'd best be getting after it hard. These tips are all designed to help you maximize intensity and strength today to help you look better tomorrow.

9 Use forced reps on your last sets

>> A Finnish study found that when subjects performed a workout with forced reps (a spotter helped them get through their sticking points to get a few more reps), their growth hormone (GH) levels were almost 4,000% higher than without using forced reps. For the last set of each exercise after reaching failure, go for 2-3 extra forced reps, but utilize these sparingly to prevent overtraining.

10. Don't train to failure on every set

>> Australian scientists have reported that training with one set to failure increases strength better than taking no sets to failure. However, when subjects did more than one set to failure, strength gains were lowered by almost half compared to the subjects doing just one set to failure.

11. Keep your focus on the muscle you're training

>> British researchers discovered that subjects who focused on their biceps while doing biceps curls had significantly more muscle activity than those who thought about other things. More muscle recruitment can result in more muscle growth in the long run. Be sure that for every rep of every set during your workout you're thinking about the muscle(s) being trained, instead of wondering where that blonde wearing the short shorts went to do her bent-over rows.

12. Vary your rep speed

>> In another Australian study, subjects performing fast repetitions (one second each on the positive and the negative portions of the rep) gained more strength than subjects using slow reps (three seconds each on the positive and negative) because fast-twitch muscle fibers have the greatest potential for strength increases. But the slow-rep subjects gained more muscle mass than the fast-rep subjects, likely due to the muscular time under tension and increased microtrauma. A good mix of both is the best way to maximize strength and size. Try changing from your regular controlled rep speed to 2-3 weeks of fast reps followed by 2-3 weeks of slow reps. Or try one of our programs that utilizes different rep speeds such as "Speed Bumps" (January 2007).

13. Train with several partners

>> Research shows that when trained lifters attempt a 1RM in front of a group of people, they're stronger than when they lift in front of just one.

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