There’s been much debate over the years about whether it’s best to perform strength training repetitions slowly or quickly (aka exercise tempo). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Lifting explosively works more on power development and lifting slowly facilitates more time under tension for the muscles which is good for muscle growth.
Based upon my experiences, I think that for most recreational exercisers it’s much better to perform repetitions in a slow controlled manner than it is to perform them with lightning speed. The people I often see whipping the weights around are sacrificing a lot in terms of their form which puts them at a greater risk for injury. Slowing down the exercise will mean you’re less likely to compensate with other areas of the body too. Have you ever seen someone throw their back into a biceps curl so that they can lift the weight? I do, a lot. Slower lifting also allows you to take momentum out of the equation so that your muscles can do the most work possible. Not to mention it allows for more time to think about vital exercise form and the muscles doing the work.
Next time you strength train, check in with your movements and speed. Are you using momentum or breaking form? Can you slow it down a bit to really focus on the muscle groups you should be working?
In good health,
Ryan Healy, BS, NSCA-CSCS