1. Always try to maximize the intraset work-to-rest ratio by avoiding pauses between reps, making sure that you are tensing your muscles maximally during the eccentric portion of the movement, and generating as much force/acceleration as possible on each concentric reps.
2. Try to induce an oxygen debt after each set. The oxygen debt is a good sign that you worked close to your limit and that the set was productive.
3. Shoot for an incomplete recovery between sets. Wait long enough to be able to give a good effort, but not so long that you're breathing normalize.
4. Start by training each muscle group twice a week using a moderate volume. Depending on your nutritional intake and your body type you should split the weekly volume in 4-6 sessions. The fewer calories you consume, the less weekly sessions you should have.
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The use of dumbbells gives you a much more comprehensive strengthening effect because the workout engages your stabilizer muscles, in addition to the muscle you may be pin-pointing. Without all of the belts and artificial stabilizers of a machine, you also engage your core muscles, which are your body's natural stabilizers.