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Customize Your Workout

Make every fitness program work for you

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In an effort to make workouts simple, many trainers create only a basic template, leaving you to customize the routine as needed to suit your fitness level. Here's how to read those typical, generic routines and modify them for the best results.

YOUR STRATEGY
1.) Work up to an RM
When a program calls for an "RM" (rep max) it means lift the most weight you can handle for that number of reps. But don't start there. Work up to that weight. Do warm-up sets of two to five reps and increase the weight in 30- to 50-pound increments until you've found the appropriate load.

2.) Stay in the range
When you get a range of sets and reps, you can do the low end and add more sets or reps next week, or do the high end and reduce that number by adding weight.

3.) Leave some "in the tank"
If the program says eight reps, choose a weight that allows you nine or 10 reps. By leaving a rep or two "in the tank," you won't overly tax your system. In later workouts, you can aim for only the prescribed reps.

4.) Rest as needed
Depending on the shape you're in, you may need more or less rest than what's written. Always rest as little as needed, but take more time when you really need it. Performing intense sets with good form is the most important thing when training.

Basic Workout
Bench Press — 5 RM
Chinup — 3-5 x 5-10, 90 sec.
Dumbbell shoulder press — 3-5 x 10, 90 sec.
Dumbbell curl — 3 x 8-12, 60 sec.
Lying triceps extensions — 3 x 8-12, 60 sec.

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