What you do with your time between sets speaks volumes about your commitment to progress.
People tend to focus on the amount of time you should rest between sets. While that’s an important factor (crucial enough to be its own topic), know that what you do in that rest time is even more important when it comes to the quality of your workout.
When you dial in your body and mind to apply your GREATEST and SAFEST effort – every time, according to plan – you progress the most.
That level of success is a result of using that rest period to focus your attention on recovery and preparation. Both physical and mental.
But … you can only do that if you get out of your own way first.
You must break old habits that have been diminishing the results of each set of your workout.
I’m talking about diversions that stem from the hyper-connectivity that surrounds us today. It makes it a struggle to focus and easy to become distracted from your main goal.
You know the one. It’s the reason why you workout. To be an Athlete For Life.
So the first step is to apply quick and easy solutions to block out EXTERNAL distractions. And you’ll find these in my recent article.
Once you get a handle on that, it makes room for the new habits to conquer your INTERNAL distractions.
The combined effort will put you on the path to reach your potential with each new set.
For most people, it’s a constant battle to quiet the internal dialogue. So you must do whatever it takes to rid yourself of anything that is a time and energy suck.
I’ve learned that it takes a real commitment to mental and physical readiness to overcome it. And you can learn to do it too.
Here are 7 practices that you can put in place between every set going forward.
Water is essential to your energy. If you become dehydrated, your muscles can cramp. So taking a sip of water is a proactive step to take between sets.
Focusing your breathing mechanics is the number one way to speed up your recovery. And it helps you to get in the right mental state to garner the right amount of juice from your nervous system.
Take the opportunity to learn from your last set. What worked and what didn’t? And how can you use that to improve upon the next set?
Use self-myofascial release (SMR) to “turn down” (relax) any overactive muscles and calm lingering tension. Common areas to target with SMR are the quads, IT bands, pecs, and upper traps. Relaxing these areas may help you better feel and activate the muscles you want involved in your next set.
Use corrective stretching to target short and tight muscles causing imbalance. Or are resulting from compensations.
By itself, or as an adjunct to rolling, you can enhance your body’s recruitment pattern for the next set. So you’re more efficient and effective for improving strength.
The improved structural alignment will also reduce injury risk.
6. Fast & Loose
Shake, jiggle, and shimmy to get rid of any lingering tension. It may look silly to others, but it’s super effective for physical prep. If you start your next set with muscle tension build up, you’ll only be able to access a fraction of its muscle fibers. So get loose so you can be fast.
There’s plenty of credible science behind this practice. It says that rehearsing success in your mind sends those recruitment patterns to your muscles. So when it’s time for action, your body knows exactly what to do. This gives you an edge of confidence to push your outer limits.
With these steps, you will prime yourself to improve with every set.
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Until next time, stay athletic!