If you’re ready to build upper body strength and definition, try these two moves and add some slow reps to your favorite routine. Here are a couple of key moves you can do, using your own body weight as your equipment.
With the growing popularity of fast and furious workouts, many people don’t have the time or patience to slow down their fitness routine. But what if I told you that occasionally slowing down could actually lead to better results? Today, I want to share a few ways that you can maximize your upper body strength routine by adding in a few slow and controlled reps. Don’t worry—it won’t slow down your entire workout.
I’ll be the first to admit that our lives are action-packed. The idea of slowing down may not sound like a good idea, especially as more people are turning to high-intensity, interval-style training for results. If your aim is to increase your muscle size and to gain strength, doing a few slow reps as part of your strength routine may help you to build up your muscles more efficiently.
When you’re doing a traditional exercise, there are two phases that your muscles move through: a concentric phase when your muscle is shortening or contracting, and an eccentric phase when you’re lowering or lengthening the muscle back to neutral. The time that your muscles are under tension is the time when many of the micro-tears within the muscle happen. It’s this type of muscle stress over time that causes your body to adapt and rebuild. The eccentric or “negative” phase of an exercise can put additional stress on the muscle, and that can enhance muscle building especially when combined with adequate recovery time and good nutrition.
Slowing down your movements may sound easy, but in fact when you become more conscious of taking time your movements you can’t rely on momentum. Your muscles will be working harder throughout the entire exercise, making it a great time to assess your body positioning and form.
I suggest starting out this style of training using body weight exercises. Once you master this, you can try adding a few slow reps to your regular weights routine. I don’t suggest trading in all of your workouts to this style, because functional fitness at a regular pace can get you great body results, too. A slow rep routine once a week as part of a muscle building phase can be beneficial. Here are two great upper body exercises to get you started.
Grab the bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip and hang at arm’s length with your ankles crossed behind you. Pull your chest toward the bar. Lower yourself down slowly, half an inch at a time.
Grab the bars of a dip station and lift yourself so your arms are straight. Lean forward slightly and lower your body slowly—half an inch at a time—until your upper arms are below your elbows.
Remember to breathe throughout the exercise. Try to use a full 60 seconds to lower yourself for each exercise. If you can’t manage a full 60 second rep, just give it your best effort and time yourself. Your challenge should be to improve your time by getting slower each week. Try to do two reps of each move with a good two-minute rest in between each move. Improving your eccentric strength is a great way to mix up your training routine while maximizing your muscle building potential.
You can try this style of training with push-ups, dumbbell curls and wide grip pull-ups, too. Adding a new style of training to your regular routine can cause muscle soreness, so remember to stretch as part of your warm-up and cool down. Always be aware that a small amount of muscle soreness is a normal part of pushing your body to improve. Excessive soreness or pain, however, is your body’s natural way of letting you know that something’s not right.
Have fun with your workouts and ensure that you reward your body with great nutrition before, during and after your workout. Remember, going s.l.o.w. can help your body improve, fast!