Slow Down For Strength Training

For those who want some serious strength training results it might be a good idea to slow down when it comes time to lift, rather than always adding weight.  Adjusting your tempo and develop different depths of muscle fibers.

The Importance of Speed (or Lack Thereof)

When you lift a weight you’re putting stress on your muscle fibers. The fibers tear, and as those tears heal back the muscles grow. This results in an increase in strength. Pretty basic stuff, right? After all, this is why you lift weights in the first place. If you lift your weights too fast, or if you use improper form though then you’re going to end up with less growth than you’d like, and an increased chance of injury.  The speed of your reps is referred to as tempo.

If you want to work smarter instead of harder then what you need to do is slow your reps down. If you lift slowly, concentrating on your form and making sure you go through the full range of motion, then you’re more likely to work your muscles harder and to see better results when it comes to strength gain. Beyond that though you’ll also train muscles that you might skip over by lifting more quickly.

How Does It Work?

smith machine squatThere are two parts to any lift; the contraction of the muscle as it lifts the weight, and the resistance as gravity tries to pull the weight down after the initial lift. Both parts are equally important, but they can be thrown off by one thing; momentum.

Take bicep curls for example. Begin with the weight at rest, lift up in a surge, and then lower it immediately back to where it began. You’ll be able to do a lot of reps at that speed, or you’ll be able to lift a heavier weight than you could if you lifted more slowly. The reason for that is because you’re building up momentum, and that momentum is letting the weight do at least part of the work for you.

Try a bicep curl that has no momentum. Start with the weight at rest and lift slowly. Squeeze when you complete the lift, hold for a second, and then lower it slowly. Fight the urge to let gravity pull the weight down quickly. When the weight reaches the end of the journey, pause another moment, and lift again the same way. What you’ll find is that this is significantly harder than the explosive, high-speed lifting you started with, and that you may have to cut the weight in half to maintain good form. You’ll also notice results in relatively short order if you’ve never lifted like this before.

Studies on Super-Slow Lifting

There have been numerous studies on how slower speeds affect muscles, but the super-slow lifting experiment done by Ken Hutchins is one that had spectacular results. The experiment discussed here worked with women suffering from osteoporosis. Those participating in the super-slow weight lifting method were compared to a more normal exercise control group, and those lifting slowly gained 50 percent more strength on average.  Time under tension is an important factor in making gains.

Remember, strength training isn’t a race. Ironically you might reach your goal quicker if you just slow down a bit. For more information on how to reach your strength and fitness goals simply contact us today!

Tags: ,

Posted in Workout by Jason Kozma | No Comments Yet

Leave a Comment