Fitness

Training: Going Slow

Slow Set Resistance Training

via https://www.flickr.com/photos/davemurr/4592014327/

via creative commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/davemurr/4592014327/

Since January, I’ve been going to a personal trainer — twice weekly for the first four months, once a week for the last three — exclusively for slow sets. I really like the idea of the slow sets: count to eight on the extension, count to eight on the contraction. Very slow, very methodical, very challenging. And, because the idea is to work to failure, a very quick workout. It doesn’t take long before your biceps start to shake uncontrollably and cease to contract anymore.

Less than 30 minutes and you’re out the door? What more can you ask for?

And I like it. Mostly.

The pros: I can see measurable increases from week to week. My numbers, and presumably my strength, are increasing.

The cons: for all of the movements, for all of the muscle groups that I’m working, I haven’t noticed any change whatsoever in my functional strength. Do I have more endurance? No. Is my posture better? No. Do I feel stronger when doing hard physical work or trying to re-install the unwieldy bike rack on the back of my car? No.

Additional cons: my back has grown even broader, which is not a bonus when you’re my height and clothes are already hard to find; and I suspect that the deep knee bends that I did in the first several months probably aggravated my IT band even before the running season started.

I’ve combined the slow set resistance training with running, cycling and Pilates (more on the latter in another post), but I’m still missing that functional, practical, everyday strength that I truly want.

I’m still debating whether or not I should continue with the program until I leave for Europe for my half marathon; it’s probably not best to change horses mid-race, and I only have five weeks to go. But if I do let it go, what next? “What next?” seems to be the question that I’m constantly asking in my fitness life.

What have you tried lately?

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