by Suzanne Andrews
I just got back from the gym (choreographing my next PBS series) and have a swollen tongue from biting it! Not literally, but figuratively. I look around and see so many people doing the exercises way too fast to be effective. Not only that, but with every forceful lightning speed lift, they are putting themselves at a huge risk for injury. I overhear someone who has sore knees and cringe when I see what she is doing to her joints. I see the guy with the bad back lifting way to much weight and swaying his torso and I want to say something to help but bite my tongue because some people don’t welcome unsolicited advice. At the gym, no one knows that I’m a clinician with 30 years of experience. They don’t recognize me from my show as I wear no make-up and very baggy clothes. I’ll be the first to admit, make-up, good lighting and clothing really makes a differenceJ.
Most exercisers feel that the key to an effective workout is to try to move the body as quickly as possible. The thinking is that more movement leads to more energy consumption, which leads to fat loss and strength gaining. The fact is, when it comes working out for strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility and losing weight, exercising at a slower pace will get you faster results.
As far as lifting weights, raising and lowering the weight slower is much more effective than fast weight training because when your muscles have to continually exert force in order to keep the weights in position, your muscles are forced to contract longer causing them to adapt by building more muscle which causes your body to tone up much more quickly. (Ladies, don’t worry about getting big bulky muscles, you don’t have the testosterone needed for that). When your muscles are placed under enough strain to become fatigued, they send signals to the rest of your body to strengthen your muscles enough so they can avoid fatigue in the future. Lifting weights slower might look easier, but it is actually more challenging. The beauty of training this way is that you don’t have to do countless sets either, so a 30 minute workout can be just as effective as an hour workout. Just lift the heaviest weight that you can do correctly and safely. How do you know if you’re lifting the right amount of weight? The first rep will feel moderately easy, but by the last rep, you can barely lift it. When the last rep becomes easy, just increase the weight and keep the repetitions the same. The end result? A sleeker, toned appearance in 30 days.
The added benefit of increased muscle is a faster metabolism. Since I have a thyroid disorder that slows my metabolism,(making it difficult- to say the least- to lose weight), I’ve found this technique really works and has the added benefit of increasing your energy and making you look and feel younger. Instead of feeling totally worn out after a super-fast paced work out, you’re left with enough energy to get through the day and your metabolism gets a jump start on weight loss – even if you’re weight loss resistant like most of us ladies over 50. Need some inspiration? I do to and I get it in the form of letters. Here’s one I would like to share with you.
Another plus of going slower is you’re more likely to stick with a program that doesn’t leave you feeling like you got hit by a truck!
By developing more skeletal muscles, you’ll have the strength needed to get through your day and perform activities with energy. You’ll gain improved lung capacity, a stronger heart rate, improved oxygen saturation and lower cholesterol. All of these factors, combined with the overall improvement in body tone, makes Functional Fitness exercisers feel younger.
Not only is lifting weights slower more effective, but it is also a lot safer. Lifting weights slower makes it less likely to perform movements incorrectly, which is one of the leading causes of injury.
As a rehab therapist it is expected that I, and my Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy colleagues use this technique; because insurance wants us to get the client off therapy as fast as possible using only evidenced based exercises. (Exercises that have been medically proven to work for specific conditions – this includes the order of the exercise, the speed of the exercise, how many sets and how many repetitions). So it’s up to the therapist to get the person well enough for discharge fast. Although this way of exercising is not commonplace at the gym or in exercise classes, it has been medically proven to get the fastest results. One day longer really can be one day stronger with Functional Fitness!
Love and healthiest blessings,
Suzanne Andrews is a licensed Occupational Therapy Clinician with 30 years exercise expertise. Airing to over 49 million on Public Television, Suzanne Andrews, a licensed Occupational Therapy Clinician, (they specialize in function) creates evidenced based fitness programs for specific health conditions. Originally created in 2008 with it’s first run on WDSC TV, Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews broadcasts on 113 Public Television stations.