The Value Of Slow…

I got a question recently from a fellow trainer about why I use exclusively slow repetition speed with my clients as well as my own workouts, and why I don’t include some explosive training and higher repetition speed. She supported her question with some scientific data about the benefits of explosive training. I thought some people might find my perspective interesting if not useful even if they disagree, so here is my reply to my friend’s question:

“This is where I differ from most trainers and strength coaches I know.   I don’t put science at the top of my learning pyramid.  I put logic and common sense there, and science in the middle.  There are many scientifically proven reasons why faster and explosive repetitions can benefit an athlete.  As previously discussed though, the injury/benefit ratio increases whenever momentum enters an exercise.  This increases because in most instances the load is greater, and due to the faster speed combined with a heavier load proper form cannot be adhered to as well – period.

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I have to decide who among my students are legitimate athletes.  It turns out that there are very few. For the middle aged man wanting to improve his body, I am of the opinion that all the changes he is looking for can be had with slower, more controlled repetitions, thus minimizing risk/benefit ratio and putting him in a better position to reach his goals.  Same thing with the mom who wants to tone up and take off her baby weight, as well as the obese and morbidly obese students.

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When it comes to student athletes at the high school and middle school level, their bodies are still developing and an injury in the weight room might have severe long-term consequences.  Also worthy of consideration is that the habits they learn in the weight room as teens will likely stay with them for life. This is a huge issue with me.  High school sports coaches and even some PE teachers are more often poor strength coaches, but often looked to as supremely knowledgeable.

This leaves a small group who could really benefit from fast and explosive strength training; high level competitive athletes.  Can it benefit them and enhance muscle growth as well as performance…?  Absolutely!  However, I read a study last year that a majority of minor injuries in the NFL take place in the weight room; pulled hamstrings, torn biceps, torn pectorals, low-back strain, neck issues, etc.  This goes back to the risk/benefit ratio.  For men or women to whom thousands if not millions of dollars are at stake for every performance, the benefits of explosive training certainly outweighs the risks, and most would-be injuries can be dealt with and recovered from.

That’s pretty much where it ends with me.  On a personal level, I have run long races, biked far distances, lifted very heavy weights, stood on a posing platform, and conquered dozens of physical obstacles with this body – despite that I have done no explosive training and that my repetition speed in the weight room has been slow and fully controlled since1986 or so.

Lastly, what gets missed in fast or explosive repetitions is, for me, what holds the greatest value in strength training; the intimacy which takes place between the mind and the body when weights are lifted more slowly and through a complete range of motion. This is a connection that is on par with many forms of yoga, and in my opinion is just as spiritual.

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I’m a science minded person, but no scientist, and no institution is without some level of agenda, as I have my own.  My agenda is safety combined with results.”

That was my response to my friend. I’m not opposed to high level athletes using faster or explosive repetitions in the weight room. However, for the average liftasaurus or weekend warrior, it’s my opinion that slower, more controlled repetition speed comes with as much benefit as anyone needs, and a lot less risk. Be well… rc

Trainer Roy Cohen is available for online consulting. Learn more by clicking here.

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Wang Chung.  Enjoy!

The Golden Era Of Anything…

Piper’s Passing Placed Perplexing Ponderings…

Roddy Piper passed away last week. The loss of Piper got me thinking about the early days of televised wrestling. Piper was a staple in what many refer to as the golden era of professional wrestling. As his predecessors, personalities such as Mad Dog Vachon, Wahoo McDaniel, Verne Gagne, and the Crusher faded into obscurity, Piper was a great transitional figure to bridge the gap between eras. He and his contemporaries helped freshen up the scenery as well as the entrainment value of televised wrestling – substantially. Eventually TV wresting became too big, too juiced, and too commercialized for my tastes. However, Piper was part of a special era that lasted about ten years – a golden era.

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All Around Us…

There have been many golden eras of institutions and technologies that we can reflect on. The automobile. Science. Television. Baseball. Cinema. Skateboarding. Rock & Roll. Even bipartisan politics. The Islamic religion had its golden era. Even war had its golden era – if you believe fending off Hitler vs. fighting for oil was a more noble undertaking.

Back when a Cougar was a Cougar, not a middle-aged...

Back when a Cougar was a Cougar, not a middle-aged…

There have been many golden eras though history, and we are partial to them on reflection because they have provided us with something new. New ideas. New personalities. New technologies. It is the freshness and uniqueness of change which makes periods golden.

As I look round today though, there don’t seem to be too many products, technologies, personalities, or institutions demonstrating a golden era. I can’t imagine our descendants looking back on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or blogging with a storied past. The MMA…? I just don’t see it. The golden age of solar panels…? Not likely. The golden era of multiplex theaters…? God help us.

Golden age of Islam.  Yes.  Golden age of the MMA.  Doubtful.

Golden age of Islam. Yes. Golden age of the MMA. Doubtful.

That’s the disparity with increasing complexity; that at time when we have more fresh ideas, personalities, and technologies contributing to society – and at an exponential level, it seems it’s all been done before. Seemingly, there’s nothing truly fresh for us to appreciate.

Perhaps one can make the argument that in the world of rapidly increasing social and technical complexities, the reason we’re no longer able to experience golden eras of anything is because things are just changing and evolving too quickly for anything to become golden, to establish, or sink in.

One can make a related argument that there are so many golden eras developing around us everyday and all at once, that we can’t see through them all to identify or appreciate the ones which might matter or affect most.

We might be stepping into a golden era of religious tolerance. We might also be experiencing the golden era of gender equality. More likely though, we are just crawling toward them. Only our descendants will know for certain.

A sign of the golden era of religious tolerance...

A sign of the golden era of religious tolerance…

My Golden Era…

Reflecting on golden eras, I began to contemplate whether we, as individuals, have our own. I think mine was in my early 40s. I had just given away my TVs in favor of books on religion, physics, and philosophy as those became more important to me than Baywatch. I gave away my car.  I regularly listened to podcasts of Speaking of Faith (now On Being). I quit listening to music all the time, and began to meditate daily.

This was at a time when my business was taking off, I was writing daily, I was at the ocean weekly, and I was in the best physical shape of my life. This stretch lasted from roughly age 42-46 – the golden age of Jhciacb. What made it golden is that  for the first time, I was living he exact life I have designed for myself. Few of my friends at the time could say the same.

The golden era of Jhciacb...

The golden era of Jhciacb…

Like all golden ages, mine did not last. It was a moment in time, sponsored by freshness. Though I haven’t exactly gone to hell in a handbasket, I have evolved, adapted, and changed. Though I’m still self-employed and in fair physical shape, I have allowed other things to enter my life, and influence its direction. And so it goes…

Golden Redux…

Occasional some institutions and technologies do have a 2nd golden era; baseball is arguably having one right now. Muscle cars are back, and in a big way. It’s been suggested by critics that script writing in television has never been better. Maybe, but those resurgent golden ages aren’t the same. Nothing is truly fresh a second time around.

We live in arguable the most amazing age in history, yet we take most everything for granted. As previously stated, I tend to side with the belief that a new golden era of something arises every day – and gives way just as quickly to something even more fresh. I guess if we’re not looking, we just won’t see them. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I hit the STOP button on the blender in my head.   And if you’re of the mind to, please scroll up and rate this.  Thank you!