Life is fast – or rather we tend to live life fast. Schedules are jam-packed, the days, weeks, months fly by. As we all know this tends to push fitness (and personal care in general) to the bottom of a long list, and for many that means you never get to it. Today I’m not going to address (again) how to make fitness a priority, how to squeeze it in, and how to plan ahead so your nutrition stays on track and healthy. I’ve done that many times herein. Today I’m going to simply talk about slowing down.
While of course I mean slowing down over all – stopping to smell the roses – enjoying those precious moments with your children and loved ones, etc., I am focusing more on slowing down when exercising.
As I’ve many times over in this blog successful body fitness can be achieved in as little as 20-30 minutes three times a week. The current trends (and my approach with clients) is faster paced combination exercises rapidly performed in a brief period of time (the aforementioned 20-30 mins). However, that does not mean that you can’t slow down the actual performance of range of motion in each exercise.
Slowing down the execution of your repetitions will put a bigger strain on the targeted muscles groups, which in turn will burn more calories, and cause more breakdown of the muscle. Then with proper nutrition, your muscles will recover, grow in size or tone, and burn more fat calories from your body.
I laugh when I see a huge man at the gym, lifting too heavy a weight, using about 20% range of motion, and slamming the weights up and down erratically. I have, when the opportunity presents itself, taken said man, reduced the weights by half, instructed him on proper form to utilize 100% range of motion while excluding all other muscle groups (isolations) and slowed his speed down by 80%. Lo and behold, 20 minutes later the man is struggling to curl the same weight I can curl, and is sweating, exhausted and super-sore the next day.
So the next time you’re working out, try lowering your weight a tad, make sure that your range of motion is fully extended to fully flexed, and slow down – way down. Try lifting the weights to a count of ten and lowering to a count of ten. You may only perform 8-10 reps instead of 15 but you will be truly targeting and exhausting your muscles.
I often intersperse the slow down concept with regular lifting speed. For example, I might have a client perform a set of fast curls, followed by a set of 10-count hammer curls. They’re not happy with me during, but believe me their arms get toned quickly! Sometimes I write a routine for a client what is comprised of normal speed moves for 4-weeks, followed by a new slow routine for the next 4-weeks.
Do not forget to apply this slow down concept to stretches (and you should be performing about 20minutes of total body stretching (head to toes) at least once a week). All muscles have a tendon leading in that has the job of protecting the muscle from being pulled to the point of “strain.” This tendon does not relax (let its guard down) for 12-20 seconds. That is why you must hold a stretch for at least 30 seconds to gain the full benefit to the targeted muscle. Once the tendon has relaxed, the muscle is then gently stretched. Stretching slowly will taking slow deep breaths will help ease the lactic acid building up (that sore burning sensation in your muscles), lower blood pressure, and clear your head.
Try the slow-down approach the next time you workout and let me know your thoughts / results on it. (As always, if you should desire a customized workout routine, please contact me via www.workouts247.com.)