Question: Does Speed Matter When Working Out With Weights?

Answer: One of the most important elements of weightlifting is speed. Speed plays a major role in the incidence of injury, as well as strength and muscle development.

Slow movement promotes rapid blood flow into the specific muscle you are training, which is very important (Iíll explain why in a moment). There are two parts to each repetition of every weightlifting exercise. The first part is called the "positive" phase of the repetition, where the muscle is actually doing the work. For example, the lifting motion of the Bicep Curl--from the beginning where your arms are hanging straight down to the point where the weight is lifted up. The second part is called the "negative" phase because you are returning the weight back to the beginning; for the Bicep Curl, this is where you let the weight come back slowly to the beginning position, with your arms extended straight down again.

Itís important that you let the weight come back slower on the negative phase than on the positive phase. This negative phase is what promotes blood flow to your muscles and therefore causes ďmicrotraumaĒ Ė tiny little tears in your muscles. Sounds bad, I know, but itís actually a good thing. When you rest, these tiny tears repair themselves and get even stronger.

I recommend one to two seconds for each lifting movement (the positive phase), and three to four seconds for each lowering movement (the negative phase). Whatever your lifting speed, just remember to always come back slower on the negative phase.

If you find that the weight is so heavy that you cannot come back slowly and in full control, you should lighten the weight until you can. Many people pay far too much attention to the weight used and not the quality of the movement performed, like those you've seen in the gym that race through it. Your muscles donít know how much weight is on the bar or machine, but they will respond better when you use slow, controlled lifting technique. I hope this was helpful. Please feel free to stop by our online fitness community if you have any more questions!

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