At LIVE, we like posting articles on the educational subjects of fitness so that you can make the best possible decisions yourself about your exercise. When it comes to weight training, the ere is somuch information out there that we post what we can when we can. It is a great subject to explore.
We know that no matter how hard you weight train, if you have been training long enough there’s always a point at which improvement tapers off. Your workouts start wallowing and you soon hit an exercise plateau that seems impossible to overcome. This can be very discouraging. In fact, it leads many exercisers to start overtraining or to give up entirely. Neither extreme is an effective – or necessary – response. The last thing we want is either of those two, especially the giving up part.
Everyone hits an exercise standstill from time to time, even elite athletes. So the next time your workout gets stale, instead of fighting or quitting, try slowing down.
That’s right: See how taking a pause during each rep and purposefully stopping momentum when you lift can propel you into the next level of fitness.
If slowing down seems like the exact opposite of what you want to do when you’re stuck at an exercise standstill, try thinking about it this way: Once you lose momentum, it takes a lot more energy to get going again. When you slow down and add a pause to each of your lifts, you actually increase the intensity of every rep without adding more weight.
In fact, you’ll find you need to back off your total tonnage to make those strength gains. The added intensity of moving weight from a dead stop overloads your musculoskeletal system quickly and provides the physiological kick-in-the-butt needed to push your workout out of limbo.
Muscles, bones and connective tissues respond to mechanical overload by getting stronger. Exercise works by progressively taxing your muscles and related tissues so they continue to grow. You stop making progress when the sets and reps you’re doing no longer provide enough stimulus.
The best way to encourage your body to develop further is to increase workout intensity. Most of us do this by either adding sets and reps or loading more weight onto the bar. But eliminating momentum achieves the same end in less time, while forcing greater muscle-fiber recruitment (meaning more of your muscle has to report for duty). Another amazing way that we always encourage people to try as well is the use of a preworkout supplement in conjunction with their new training regimen. Check out Cold Fusion EX by LG Sciences and another of our favorites, Beta Alanine 200 by Scifit.
You’ve probably noticed that many weight-bearing exercises are easier to do at a faster rate of movement. Try knocking out 10 swift pushups (piece of cake). Now try another set with a slow descent, a one-second pause at the bottom and an explosive press to finish. You’ll find this set is much harder than 10 regular pushups.
When you move quickly, you exploit momentum and a physiological phenomenon known as the stretch-shortening cycle or “stretch reflex.” This is just a fancy way of saying that when your muscles move fast in one direction, they spring back reflexively in the other. That’s why you cock your arm back before throwing a ball and bear down to set up a vertical jump. A quick countermovement precedes almost every powerful athletic effort.
While lifting weights, the combination of momentum and your stretch-shortening cycle acts like an overzealous spotter who provides a little too much assistance. Eliminate this assistance, and you can reduce the number of repetitions you do, as well as increase the rest periods between sets and dramatically improve your strength and power. Without momentum, you force yourself to perform more absolute muscle work. More work translates into faster improvement and a one-way ticket to the next level of training.