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25 Ways to Get Stronger Now

Putting on muscle isn't just about piling on more and more weight. Use these tips to work out smarter—not harder—for big results you can really see.

6. Load the bar with small plates.

It makes the bar look lighter. Your brain won't register it as heavy. That mental advantage can help you lift heavier or do more reps.

7. Go barefoot or wear Converse Chuck Taylors.

The less material there is between your feet and the floor when you lift, the more muscle your body can activate. It's also better for leverage on moves like the deadlift (you'll shorten the distance the bar has to travel). If you train at home or in a hardcore gym, lose the shoes. (If your gym requires footwear, thin-soled sneakers like Chucks are ideal.)

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8. Warm up your rotator cuff before any pressing exercise.

Take a two to four-pound medicine ball and push it into a wall with one hand, keeping your arm straight. Roll the ball around on the wall (push hard so it doesn't slip), tracing the alphabet. Do two sets on each arm, and then do your pressing. Firing up the rotator cuff increases the stability in your shoulders.

9. Do box jumps in your warm-up for leg days.

Do three sets of three reps, resting 60 seconds between each set. Explosive exercises wake up the central nervous system to recruit maximum muscle.

10. Try a few glute bridges before deadlifting.

Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet close to your butt. Dig your heels into the floor and bridge up with your hips, focusing on the contraction in your glutes. Do two sets of eight to 10 reps. Preactivating the glutes — the prime movers in a proper deadlift — allows them to fire at their fullest.

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