When it comes to a spotless house, I have to admit, I often fall short. Also true of ironing practically anything, scrubbing cooking pots and growing almost anything (other than succulents, which even I haven’t killed!).
But when it comes to lifting, I’m a bit of a stickler. I’ve been in those classes at my gym (which will remain unnamed) where my fellow participants lift way too fast with improper form just to keep up with the music and the instructor. And I’ve attended fitness conferences where the presenter advocates fast and furious without encouraging proper form. And then there are the Spin classes where instructors turn up the resistance on someone’s bike without knowing why he or she may not want to put the hammer down on any particular day. The other day in the gym, I actually saw a guy doing a behind-the-neck pulldown, a highly questionable exercise I’ve never liked.
To me, the most important part of lifting weights — be it dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells or a medicine ball – is getting it right. And if it means slowing down or working with lighter weight and then progressively increasing it, then so be it. After all, that’s why it’s called progressive resistance training. There’s also the issue of what the professionals refer to as “time under load.” Simply put, for a great majority of us, the more time you spend going from the start of the rep to the end, the better the results will be. Sure, there are times when speed, whether fast or super slow, will break a plateau for you, but otherwise, work steadily rep after rep, getting the most out of each one.
I personally love the focus it takes to do an effective strength-training workout. So here’s what I want you to do on your next workout: Focus on it. Don’t think about what you have to buy at the grocery store or when you have to pick up the kids or how many tasks you have to complete before the end of the day. Just focus on the hour or more workout you have in front of you — think about the proper form and what you may have to change if there isn’t a bench, the cable machine is packed or all the weights you want are in use. Focus on completing the rep in front of you, not about the last rep of a set.
Focus on it and it alone.
And then enjoy — get into the rhythm of the weights, into the flow of the workout, and, afterward, give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it.
Stay in touch,
Diane Hart, Editor-in-Chief
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