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Your speed deployed plays a major role in the incidence of injury as well as strength and muscle development. Fast lifting creates momentum and doesn’t promote blood flow to the muscle, which is critical for muscle development. Slow movement, on the other hand, not only has a much lower risk of injury but also has a greater influence on rapid results.
In every resistance training exercise, there are two parts to each repetition. One, the concentric contraction –called the positive phase of the repetition – is where the muscle is actually doing the work, such as the lifting motion of the Take the humbel bicep curl fro example: from the beginning where the arms are hanging straight down to the point where the weight is lifted up.
The second part is the eccentric contraction – called the negative phase of the repetition – the part with resistance, because you are returning the weight from the end of the positive phase back to the beginning. In the bicep curl, this is where we let the weight come back slowly to the beginning position, with the arms extended straight down again.
I also tell my clients it is more important to let the weight come back slowly on the negative phase than on the positive phase. Coming back slowly with resistance on every exercise is very important because this is the phase that promotes blood flow to your muscles and causes the muscle tissue to break down so it can build back up even stronger when resting. I recommend one to two seconds for each lift (the positive phase), and three to four seconds for each lowering (the negative phase). Just remember, always come back slower with resistance during the negative phase of each lifting repetition.
If you find that the resistance (that is, the weight of a dumbbell or the strength of the resistance band) is so much that you cannot come back slowly and in full control of the movement, you should lessen the resistance (i.e., decrease the weight) until you can. Many people pay far too much attention to the quantity or weight of the lift and not the quality of the movement performed. Your muscles cannot know how much weight is on the bar or machine or the strength of the resistance band, but they will respond very well when you are using good, controlled form and come back slowly with resistance.
An important principle to remember: Progressive Resistance
As your muscles adapt to the resistance of a given exercise, that resistance must be gradually increased to stimulate further improvement. The key to strength and muscle development is progressive resistance, which is also called exercise progression. This is the gradual and continual addition of resistance to the exercise over time, as the previous resistance becomes too easy to lift, so that your muscles are continually forced to work harder and thus increase muscle strength, size, and tone. Note: Don’t worry. I’m not talking about getting big and bulky; I’m talking about replacing fat with lean, fat-burning muscle.
For example, in the Bench Press , you might start out pressing (lifting) 50 kilo’s. After a few chest sessions you may find that pressing 50kgs pounds has become too easy, and that you can do more than the recommended number of repetitions with little difficulty. The progression principle says that as soon as the weight you are using is no longer a challenge, raise it. You progressively increase the resistance so that you continue to make gains in muscle tone, size, and strength, therefore conditioning your body to be a 24-hour fat-burning machine.
Whether you’re using free weights, exercise machines, or resistance bands, you can easily increase the resistance. For example, with resistance bands, you simply hold it closer to the center of the band, so that there’s more resistance. It is important that you increase the resistance only if the previous resistance is too light; increasing the weight of dumbbells, for example, just to push yourself harder can result in poor form and increase the risk of injury.
Also note that an increase in repetitions is an increase in strength and therefore a good indication of progress as well. Many people think improvement is only obtained when they increase the weight. But if you have increased the number of repetitions you can do with good form, you have increased your strength and, more than likely, your muscle size and tone (and metabolism) as well.
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or concerns, please post them below and to get in touch with me click here .