Up Three Down Three

Earlier, we referred to the use of momentum as a way to "cheat" when lifting (read: men eager to lift more than they should). This use of body English (cheating) makes the exercise easier and puts a ton of stress on various joints in your body. While it may help you lift more weight, this jerkiness ensures that you're not giving the specific muscle group proper attention. By two and down four," you will effectively remove momen-it back in Physics 101 where it belongs.

Here's how this simple but effective technique works: Stand with your arms by your side. While bending your elbows, count "one-and-a," "two-and-a." By the end of "three-and-a," your elbows should be fully bent. Pause for one count at the fully contracted position. Now reverse the process and straighten your elbows. As you do so, count "one-and-a," "two-and-a," "three-and-a." By the end of "three-and-a," your elbows should be straight. (We recommend you do this silently unless you're a bandleader or kindergarten teacher.) This count helps you to move slowly, establish a good rhythm, and ensure that you're depending entirely on the muscles you should be working.

Here's a quick checklist of reminders you should take with you on each trip to the gym:

■ Perform all standing exercises with proper standing posture.

■ Perform all sitting exercises with proper sitting posture.

■ Bend from your hips and knees, not your back.

■ Breathe properly, in through your nose and out through your mouth.

■ Remember the count—three seconds on the positive phase of the lift, a one second pause, and three for the negative.

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