How to See The Olympics

How to see the Olympics or add oomph to your serve–she’ll answer anything

What’s better: three sets in a row for each muscle group or three trips around the weight room?

J.C., Medford, MA

Well, others may prefer that you don’t hog a machine, but doing three consecutive sets is better for you. “It takes about two minutes for the muscle to recover completely,” says Wayne Westcott, fitness research director of the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts. So doing three sets with only about 90 seconds rest in between makes muscles work harder. Even better, do three different moves for the same muscle group, like a set of triceps dips, followed by a set of triceps kickbacks and a set of triceps extensions. “Mixing it up helps build more comprehensive strength,” Westcott says, “because you’re involving more muscle fibers.”

I want to increase the power of my tennis serve. Any advice?

P.M., Lexington, KY

Try channeling Venus Williams, who holds the Guinness world record for her 127-mph power serve. Not psychic? Build Venus-like strength. “The power of your serve comes from the legs and the trunk rotation,” says Tim Howell, director of tennis at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California. His favorite move: racquet crunches. Hold your racquet with both hands in front of you as you sit up and twist your torso first to one side and then the other. For the legs, walking lunges (try coveting the whole length of the court) will build the strength you need to create momentum for your serve.

What’s the cheapest way to go to the Olympics?

K.P., Chester, NJ

Unless you can stuff yourself into Jenny Thompson’s gym bag, there really is no cheap way to go to the Games in Sydney. Cartan Tours (www.cartan.com) will plan the whole thing for you (airfare, hotels, tickets) with week-long packages that start around $5,000.

Do-it-yourselfers can book flights to Sydney (about $2,000 round-trip from New York), but finding rooms this late may be an Olympian feat. And unless you plan on scalping, you still have to purchase tickets through Cartan, the official ticket agent for the Games. Prices average $70 per ticket (for what’s left) but can easily climb well into the hundreds of dollars.

How can I avoid getting swimmer’s ear?

W.T., Mill Valley, CA

Take a dip Esther Williams-style: head above water, makeup intact. A better way to keep water out and prevent swimmer’s ear (a.k.a. otitis externa), according to Doug Hoffman, M.D., an ear, nose and throat specialist in Crescent City, California, is to wear earplugs.

Make your own by placing half a cotton ball covered in Vaseline into each ear and sealing your head with a bathing cap. If your ears still get wet, place a few drops of diluted vinegar (one part vinegar to two parts water) into each canal after you towel off. Says Hoffman, “The vinegar discourages bacterial growth and helps keep infections from forming.”

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