Unless you’re sprinting, speed-roping or racing, slow down, buddy. You’re likely to get hurt.
When it comes to form, a rule of thumb I’d like you to follow is GO SLOW. Here’s why:
You can’t fake it…with form that is. Your body knows that when you speed up an exercise it’s likely because you haven’t mastered it yet. You wouldn’t start out driving a car by going fifty miles an hour. You’d crash, right? Well, the same is true for your body.
Strength exercises like squats, pushups, tricep dips, and rows need to be taken slowly so you can focus on your form and not tweak your shoulder or throw out your back. If you don’t have the strength or flexibility to do an exercise at YOUR full range of motion, modify by decreasing the intensity or resistance. For example, do incline push-ups instead of plank push-ups. Bend your knees for dips. Take a wider stance farther from your anchor point for TRX body rows, and simply perform shallower squats or use a chair. These are all smart options. Going faster and hurling yourself through the routine is not.
Additionally, slow movements will increase the resistance challenge and help you to build more muscle and strength.
Exercises that focus on balance (as well as strength) are other exercises that I see get rushed. Side plank leg lifts and one-legged deadlifts come to mind immediately. Keep falling to a minimum by slowing down and getting the form right. If you keep losing your balance, listen to the trainer’s cues and use them. Focus on where your body is in space, especially your hips, which in a single-leg deadlift, should face the floor squarely without any rotation. If during a side plank, the leg lift isn’t happening, then leave it out and work on sticking a perfect unadorned side plank for twenty seconds on each side. Then add the lift.
Making sure your body is properly aligned during workout exercises takes time. Rushing through with crappy form only leads to injury, and if that happens you’ll have to completely stop in order to recover. This is where we can learn a thing or two from that victorious tortoise.
Make it your priority to nail proper form, because doing so will create healthy postural habits that you’ll carry with you into the rest of your day. It should also help to ease any joint discomfort you may be experiencing.
Want another area where slowing down is important? EATING! Cooking your food instead of grabbing a pre-packaged snack on the run is bound to be a healthier option. Eating slowly and without distraction instead of speeding through a meal usually means you’ll ingest fewer calories.
On the other hand, cutting calories dramatically in order to lose weight fast will only wreak havoc on your hormones and metabolism, leaving you irritable, hungry, miserable and ultimately fatter than when you started out. Your body will go into starvation mode and desperately cling to each calorie you consume. This is not how to succeed.
Lastly on the slow train to fitness, rest and recovery are the keys to building muscle and strength, and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. In order to build this magical muscle mass, you MUST recover between workouts. “Crushing it” seven days a week will only lead to failure (who can keep going at such a hectic pace?) and possible injury.
In the case of health and fitness, haste truly does make waste.