Slow Down to Improve: Technique vs Weight/Speed
Have you reached a plateau with your health and fitness goals? Have you tried everything you can think of but still nothing’s working? It may seem counter intuitive, but slowing down is the answer! Keep reading today’s post for why paying more attention to your technique will help you reach your goals faster.
This is a typical story: you’ve been successful at regularly maintaining a workout regime for several months now and have progressed wonderfully towards reaching your goal. Your clothes are much looser, energy levels higher, you feel stronger than ever. “Man, at this rate,” you say, “I’ll reach my goals ahead of time!”
Then all of a sudden, although you’re still working hard and haven’t changed anything, you stop losing weight or inches and, it seems, you’re no longer gaining any more muscle either. What the heck?
So you increase your weights or approach your workouts like a tornado. You’re sweating buckets after every workout and are ever so careful about what you eat. Alas, it’s like you’ve hit a brick wall. Progress has halted.
Slow Down & Concentrate on Perfect Technique
Most people now know that challenge is what makes our bodies respond – we have to shake it up, do more or do it differently than what we’ve been doing to lose weight, boost metabolism and increase muscle mass. And so many people when they experience a plateau, automatically increase the intensity of their workouts by adding more weight or speed.
However, if you add too much weight before you’re ready, you increase your chances of injury. When you speed up your motions, gravity/momentum help you out so you need less muscle to complete the movements and in effect, you lower intensity.
To increase intensity of a resistance-based workout (using bands, body weight or weights), G Force trainers recommend slowing down and focusing on technique which requires the muscles to be engaged more fully.
In kickboxing, while speed in this case increases intensity, you can also place more demand on your muscles by being more conscientious about your technique. For instance, when using hand pads with a personal trainer or a gym partner, you can twist more through your core when punching (which also increases your oxygen!).
Did you know that our workouts are inspired by martial arts? Check out: Go Ahead, Beat on Us.
Tips to Slow Down During Resistance Training
There are two phases of weight-bearing exercises:
- Concentric (positive) contractions shorten the muscle as it acts against a resistive force (like a weight). It is generally the upward motion within the movement.
- Eccentric (negative) contractions lengthen the muscle while producing force – usually by returning from a shortened (concentric) position to a resting position. It is generally the downward motion within the movement.
G Force trainers suggest to explode upward on the concentric phase of an exercise, for example in a bicep curl, hold the dumbbell at the top and slowly bring it back down on the eccentric phase to a 4-second count.
You can add even more intensity to your weight-bearing exercises by paying attention to your breathing. Specifically, you want to exhale on the concentric phase and inhale on the eccentric phase. That is, breathe out on the upward motion and breathe in on the slow, downward motion.
Your muscles can generate more force during the eccentric phase and so by slowing down on this phase of the exercise, you’re taking the opportunity to build greater strength. This is why we suggest to `slow down’ to improve your workout results and push past your plateau!
In what other ways can you think of where you can increase efficiency by slowing down?