Use these 5 tips to get more out of every lift and accelerate your gym gains
Use a full range
Why? Moving your muscles through their full range of motion – from fully stretched to fully contracted – will engage the maximum number of muscle fibres, and the more you can recruit the quicker you’ll gain size and strength. And never swing a weight up using momentum: cheat reps will hinder, not help, your progress, and increase the risk of joint, tendon and ligament problems. If you can’t control a weight using only your muscles you need to lift lighter.
Focus on the feel
Why? Thinking about how your muscles feel when they’re working hard to move and manage the weight will build more efficient neural pathways between your brain and muscles. And the faster these networks can communicate, the greater the number of fibres recruited, so the stronger you become and the faster you grow.
Squeeze at the top
Why? At the top of every rep squeeze the working muscle or muscles as hard as possible for one second. This will fire up more muscle fibres, increase blood flow to the tissues for a bigger pump, and forge a stronger mind-to-muscle connection. It’s also a great tactic to keep your brain fully focused ahead of each rep so you perform it perfectly.
Don’t rush your reps
Why? Tempo is the speed at which you lift and lower the weight for each rep. It’s the most ignored weight-lifting metric, but it’s one you can’t afford to overlook if you want to build a better body. Lifting to a strict tempo will expose your working muscles to more “time under tension”, and it’s this exposure to tension that causes microscopic damage to your muscle tissues so that it is rebuilt to become bigger and stronger during the recovery process. Count out the tempo for each rep – in your head, ideally – to ensure you never rush your reps.
Count the set down
Why? You need to count out the reps you do for each set – again, in your head – because if you don’t your training plan loses its effectiveness. And a good strategy is to follow Arnie’s approach of not counting the reps up, but counting them down. It’s a small but significant psychological trick to keep you focused and motivated because the end of the set is getting ever-closer, especially during those longer sets when your brain is screaming for you to stop.