Slow Your Training & Check Your Ego For Better Results

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Since September 2023 when I began working with my new coach and discovered the value of yoga and stretching, I have also been introduced to a slower tempo style of exercise which is yielding fascinating results as I take that into other aspects of my training.

Yoga asanas are always practised at an intentional pace. With intention, i.e. with the full focus of your brain connecting to the body movement required, it is natural to slow down. Otherwise you lose the intention. Think about momentum vs full control. If you swing your leg in a kicking motion you can reach your end range of motion. But if you try to hold your leg at that end range of momentum motion, you will discover a lack of strength and ability to hold your leg in place.

The key to full strength and what I would call longevity strength is not only about building muscle. It’s more about building strength at those end ranges of motion. Because in your later years, it’s the movements in those end ranges of motion which can pull and tear and bring injury from the most innocuous of movements. I used to regularly pull a muscle in my neck when shaving simply because I would turn my head at the wrong angle. Imagine the same happening with your hips. 

These are reasons why I have focused on learning about how a body should move through all planes of motion, not just the strength training sagittal planes.

Bodyweight vs Barbell Slow Tempo Resistance Training

That being said, I enjoy barbell and cable resistance training. And if there is one rule you need to tick for consistency at the gym, that is to find things you enjoy. 

After 8 years of learning I have multi faceted training methods to pull from for my gym sessions. And resistance training is a lever I regularly go back to for its measurement value, as well as hypertrophy results.

I love my yoga and strength training sessions with Ebegale Wong. But to transfer that to the gym when you’re on your own, particularly with regards to the strength training portion of it is just not the same.

This was clear to see during my session yesterday when practising strict form Bulgarian lunges. It’s so easy to move out of form to make the movement easier. And believe me, I know myself, there is no way I would have made the 8 reps Ebegale encouraged and counted me through if I was on my own. My quads were on fire and I would have stopped after 3 or 4 reps!

But barbell resistance training is easier mentally to push through those barriers because the focus is on a more precise muscle group. Whereas bodyweight strength training is full body engagement requiring more focus.

Slow Tempo In Resistance Training

Therefore a few weeks ago I restarted barbell/cable resistance training with a view to completely slowing down the tempo in order to fully and 100% engage the target muscles. The results were fascinating, and more than a little humbling.

I have never been strong at any of the big 5 barbell moves, primarily because I started late in life. But also due to my body not allowing me to reach the correct form at the end ranges. 

By reducing the weight on the bar and totally slowing down the tempo, I discovered that it was possible to reach those end ranges of motion and stay fully engaged with the target muscles.

Leave Your Ego In The Locker

This is more valid for the men reading this than any ladies. Because if there’s one thing we men like to do, it’s to show we are stronger than others at the gym. That simply does not work when you slow the tempo down with full correct form. My barbell bench press, for 3 sets of 12 reps, is quite good enough with the bar only!

That takes some mental management, but fortunately I have genuinely reached the point where my gym ego is not important anymore. I’ve injured myself too many times trying to hit a PR for the sake of a number. And if I am to live by my own mantras, those PR’s are in the history bin never to be repeated.

Leave your ego in the locker room and fully focus on total muscle engagement, full range of motion, with light weights. You will be shocked at the response your body gives you. The DOMS I had with such light weights were astounding. But the key point is, they were all in the correct place, and therefore muscle hypertrophy follows with clear visible changes in your body.

How To Slow Your Tempo

A good count is 4-2-2. This means 4 seconds on the eccentric portion of the move. So for your deadlift it will be the lowering of the bar for 4 seconds. For your squat it’s the squatting down portion. And for your presses, it’s the lowering the bar part of the move. You then explode faster through the concentric portion of the move, which is the actual pull of the deadlift, and push of the squat and press movements. 

The preciseness of the 4-2-2 is not what’s important. So don’t think about that too much. I simply try to control the eccentric portion of the move as slowly and engaged as possible, then explode fast for the concentric part of the exercise.

Resources

In Mind Pump episode 2273 Sal talks about this at the start of the show and explains the reasons why this is such an important tool for changing the shape of your physique. He explains that the weight you move will reduce by 30-40%, which is precisely what I experienced. For me it was the higher end of that percentage where I needed to unload my weights by 40% to be able to reach the reps goal of 10-12. This really is an ego busting move, but one which I will continue to use as I clearly feel the benefits of this strategy.

Dive into this episode to learn more about the benefits of this training method, as well as other nuggets of information such as daily mobility hacks, the benefits of red light therapy, why technology and human psychology need to be intentionally balanced, and as always much much more…………..

Slow your tempo. Breath to the rhythm of your movements. Connect your body and mind to live stronger & live longer.

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