In our culture of fast paced, technology driven, high speed, no waiting for anything, instant gratification, how often does that mentality creep into our training sessions? There is no doubt that the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) fad is in full swing in the fitness industry, but are cultural trends deafening the sound that sport science has been producing for decades. There is definitely sport science proving the efficacy of HIIT, but the fad has begun to overtake what the other side of the coin has been saying: that we need to slow down sometimes, that resting between sets, or even within sets, isn’t such a bad thing.
What are some practical ways you can slow down during your training? The first example I will give is to get your clients to exhale. I’m not so concerned with how much breath in a client can get, but rather, how much air they can gently but forcefully get out. Bringing the rib cage down and in, into internal rotation, can reset a lot of the overuse patterns that we are prone to in our daily living, whether athletic or static daily living. This can help bring the client into a more balanced state not only physically, but mentally. Someone who is over worked, or over sensitized, needs to regulate their nervous system and bring it down a little before stressing their muscles and nervous system in the training session. If they are over sensitized, and then further stress their nervous system with high intensity work, will only predispose themselves to increased risk of over training: burn out, injury, sickness.
The next example I will give is recognizing the difference in rest used during aerobic exercise versus resistance training. During aerobic exercise there are a myriad of methods for work to rest ratio, so I’m not going to concern us with that type of training today. The rest during resistance training is of utmost importance. Since resistance training stresses so many systems at once, far more than any other modality of training or medication, our bodies will need the rest between sets to fully recover. We need to fully recover both the muscular system and the nervous system so that the next set can achieve the same levels of neuromuscular activation. Olympic or power lifters, who are concerned with one all out maximal lift, can use over 10 minutes of rest between sets. The general goal of resistance training is to increase strength, and depending on what type of strength is the goal, make sure there is enough rest between sets in order to achieve the strength gains for which you are looking.
Slowing down in a training session does not mean that you are doing less work, and don’t be duped into believing that you have to be going all the time in order to achieve benefit from your training session. Take the time to slow down, breathe out, feel recovered, before doing your next set. If your training becomes more efficient because you are able to output more during your set because you have allowed yourself enough rest, doesn’t that sound like more efficient usage of your time? You will likely leave your training feeling tired and worked, yet feeling good. It will also leave you able and wanting to come back for more.
Jon Rowe, BKin, PRT, CSCS, CEP.