So you just started – or restarted – an exercise program, and your muscles are stiff and sore. While there’s not much you can do about that now, you can prevent it from happening in the future.

Here’s the plan you should follow.

The next time you do a workout, do only one set per exercise (rather than the three sets most workouts call for) – and don’t worry, you’ll still get most of the fat-burning, muscle-building, strength-boosting benefits of a regular full workout. The week after that, add another set and do two sets per exercise. Finally, in the third week, you’ll be ready to do a full three sets of each exercise.

I also recommend increasing your vitamin C intake to 2-3 grams per day. Research shows that vitamin C reduces exercise-induced muscle damage. I personally have been experiencing less soreness after my workouts since supplementing with vitamin C (which I started doing to avoid colds).

And if you are really hurting right now? One of the best things you can do is simply keep moving and do some low-intensity exercise. Research suggests that light exercise can contribute to enhanced healing … and might even reduce your soreness.

[Ed. Note: Building muscle and burning fat doesn’t have to take hours of work. Fitness expert Craig Ballantyne has put together a Turbulence Training program that can help you get fit with three 45-minute workouts a week.]

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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