From the desk of Sarah J. Rogers, LMT…
Considering variables to manipulate your workout can be hard when you’ve been doing the same workout year in and year out. We all know the bicep curl, bench press, triceps extension, squat and lunge workout – – RIGHT? One thing that many gym-goers don’t consider is the possible redundancy of their workouts. Doing MORE exercises does not necessarily lead to better results, faster results or even a healthier outcome. Often, the diversity that one provides by simply tacking on more exercises – leads to repetitive use injuries. These injuries are very commonly found in the shoulders and knees to include rotator cuff imbalances and discomfort, labral tears, resultant poor tracking of the patella etc.
So, how are you supposed to prevent this?
As trainers, we LOVE to manipulate variables in workouts – that’s how you keep them interesting and challenging. We’re going to give you several ideas throughout the summer on how to change your workouts to minimize the possibility of over-use injuries, to challenge yourself in a different way, and to improve your results. The first variable we will address is TEMPO. Consider a workout when you may do bicep curls, seated rows, lat pull downs, overhead press etc…… Instead of doing all of these exercises in one workout, spread them into two or three workouts throughout the week. Perhaps for your first workout you choose seated row and overhead press. Depending on the equipment used, grips etc – all of these exercises engage the biceps so doing them all in one workout is over-work for the biceps and synergistic muscles; our muscles need time to recover in order to become stronger and more powerful. Working with tempo, you can get that increased effort you want without the redundancy that is potentially damaging. Where your original sets may look something like this:
3 SETS 12 BICEP CURL
3 SETS 12 SEATED ROW
3 SETS 12 LAT PULL DOWN
3 SETS 12 OVERHEAD PRESS
Consider changing up your upper body choices in this way:
3 SETS OF 10 SEATED ROW
3 SETS OF 10 OVERHEAD PRESS
During these sets, use less weight than you normally would and use all the normal precautions regarding posture and form. There are 3 phases of a regular strength exercise: CONCENTRIC, ISOMETRIC, ECCENTRIC. The concentric phase on your row will be when you are pulling towards you, the isometric is the pause before you reverse your movement, and the eccentric is the release back to the starting position. These terms are useful for all exercises and can be manipulated for lower body, core etc. For your 3 sets of 10 seated rows, take 3 seconds to pull the weight into your core, hold for 3 seconds, then release on 5 seconds – keeping your shoulders down and back and your neck relaxed. If you are someone who needs a workout log to follow, you could write it like this:
3 SETS OF 10 SEATED ROW (3-3-5)
3 SETS OF 10 OVERHEAD PRESS (3-3-5)
Try changing things up in the gym once in a while, especially if you are finding that you peak or plateau. Our bodies respond to change. Following are some tempo examples that you can use for your next workout. Remember that if it causes pain or discomfort, discontinue what you are doing and take a break. Additionally, you may notice that some books and magazines will write the eccentric phase first (E-I-C) rather than (C-I-E). Do what works for you and do not get caught up on these semantics. The exercises will be the same in the end. The examples below are given in (C-I-E) format:
1-1-1 (move on a one count, hold for a one count, release on a one count)
>>>This can raise the heart rate and can be good for those conscious of losing fat – but ALWAYS BE AWARE OF POSTURE AND SAFETY
1-2-1 (move on a one count, hold for a two count, release on a one count)
1-3-1 (move on a one count, hold for a three count, release on a one count)
1-4-1 (move on a one count, hold for a four count, release on a one count)
>>>Here, the holding in the middle gets longer and longer. These are called isometric holds and are great for building durability. However these are not advised for those with issues with blood pressure, so ask your physician if you have any concerns
3-3-5 (move on a three count, hold for a three count, release on a five count)
>>>Here, you begin to focus on durable strength with nice slow, deliberate movements and holds.
Manipulating tempo can be fun, but it can also be confusing if you try to do too much of it in one workout. Try picking ONE tempo variation and use that several times within your workout rather than having so many you forget what you are doing. Once you become comfortable changing tempo and keeping track of it, then perhaps introduce more variations within a workout. Tempo can be applied to power movements and plyometric movemets as well, though those types of movements require special precautions. The above suggestions are for basic strength movements that do not involve jumping.
Need ideas or have questions? Please contact me.
Enjoy the new rhythm!
Sarah J. Rogers, LMT/CPT AAPT
Licensed Massage Therapist
Sarah J. Rogers is a licensed massage therapist and an internationally certified personal trainer. She received her training at The Cortiva Institute in Watertown, MA and The American Academy of Personal Training in Boston, MA. She is a member of the American Massage Therapy Association and of the American College of Sports Medicine. Having received her BA in Anthropology and History of Science at Smith College, she shares a deep intellectual and philosophical connection to her clients and work.
Sarah works with each client to develop a comprehensive treatment to suit each client’s goals. She incorporates neuromuscular therapy, advanced osteopathic stretching, myofascial release, stretching, and personal training. She also integrates relaxation, meditation and motivation techniques. Sarah understands and appreciates the various ways in which people use their bodies to get through their every day lives, and enjoys the process of tracing the source of discomfort and injury.
A life-long athlete, Sarah enjoys yoga, running, swimming and biking among other things. Sarah has coached swimming, participates in special education wellness programs (Cantor Youth & Special Olympics). Sarah believes that holistic and traditional health should be equally accessible to every individual. She participates in the Collaborative Health For All initiative by Jill’s List in collaboration with Boston Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
“Good for the body is the work of the body, good for the soul is the work of the soul and good for either is the work of the other.” -Henry David Thoreau.
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