Posted by Ian Kay on October 16, 2009
“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
Most gym-goers want one or more of these three things: better cardiovascular fitness, less body-fat or more muscle. Hence the dumbbells, treadmills and calorie-restricted diets. But here’s another element you can add to your repertoire: a stopwatch.
Why? Because our bodies change when our ability to perform improves. And performance isn’t only about the overall time you put in, or the number of reps, or even the amount of weight you move. It can also be about covering the same distance as last session but in less time, or doing the same reps and the same weight but with shorter rest periods. About doing sprints, but faster than you’ve ever done… you get the idea.
Think about how performance is measured in professional sporting events: Who gets to the ball the fastest? Who can maintain a high level of skill even when they are exhausted and the team has run out of timeouts? Whose tennis serve has the most velocity? Even in events that stop frequently, time is tied to performance. Those gigantic linemen in football? They can probably push 600-700 pounds 5-10 yards one time without killing themselves. But how about pushing the other 300-pound lineman that comes at them every 20-25 seconds, over and over? Even in events seemingly aimed at endurance, like marathon running, the goal is to knock off time.
I’ll tell you, a tried-and-true method of muscle building is shorter rest periods between sets. Leave the two and three minute rests for the power- and Olympic lifters.
Cardiovascular work and fat-loss? Try this for a month: Speed up your sets and rest only long enough to keep from passing out… and then tell me if you see better results!
Now you don’t want mere speed for the sake of speed. The key to avoiding a chaotic workout is to buy a $2 stop-watch at Target. Use it. For muscle-building, start by limiting your breaks between bench presses to 45 seconds. For fat-loss goals, do back-to-back exercises with no rest, then rest just 30 seconds and repeat. It doesn’t need to be complicated!
Now… 3…2…1… GO!
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