Monday, August 26, 2019

Why I've Learned to Slow Down When Exercising (August Posting Challenge)

When I lost weight the first time (there have been three major times I've lost 30 lbs or more), all I focused on was doing more of each exercise and going faster. I regularly threw up at the end of my workouts.

I've learned to slow down, both in my reps and my progress. Here's why:

When I lost weight and became a trainer, I believed that doing work (weight x distance x speed) was the key. And as long as my form was good, I didn't pay attention to the muscles worked or how much control that I had. I regret that was the pattern when I was a trainer as well. It easily led to injuries for me and set backs.

Now, I've realized that using the right muscles, being under control, and making steady progress is more critical. So I slow down. I work on making progress at the most difficult points rather than just pushing through to do more of the full exercise. Here are ways that I slow down right now:


  • I practice the bottom part of pull-ups and don't worry about the full rep very often. I do that because one of my elbows has some pain when doing the full range (and only when doing that exercise) and because it gives me a chance to work on the most difficult part. Most lifters skip the bottom part of the pull-up by coming up short because it is hard. But getting good at that really works my shoulders, lats, and core.
  • When I wanted to learn to do hanging knees-to-elbows, I couldn't do full reps. But I went slowly and worked on doing what I could with control and a focus on using the correct muscles. After 4 weeks, I did full reps with great control and great effect.
  • I practice holding myself up on dip bars to solidify my shoulders and work on body positioning. It turns a static exercise into a shoulder, chest, stomach exercise. Dips are a hard exercise to do correctly. Lots of people get injured and never make good progress. I decided that good control is more important than getting reps in this week or this month. And my shoulders, elbows, and wrists are in better shape for it.

When I was studying for my training certification, the training process that we were taught started with stability before moving to strength and power. I was in a hurry and my clients were in a hurry. Now I realize that you can be in a hurry and still focus on stability first. Stability leads to faster progress than skipping to strength or power.

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