Slow and Steady Wins the Race
By Cori Christmann
Just like training a horse, taking your time to build the basics will make you stronger and fitter in the long run. We all know a strong foundation is the key to any horse’s training, and we’ve all been tempted to move a young horse up a few levels quicker than normal rather than taking the extra time to teach him all the basics, especially if he is talented and seems naturally ready to do upper level movements or jump bigger jumps.
With a horse, why are we more likely to restrain our excitement and take the time to do it right, yet we don’t do the same when it comes to training our own bodies? Just because you can lift 15 pound weights or do 50 reps of lunges on your first day at the gym doesn’t mean you should. Pushing yourself too hard or too fast can result in an injury and will definitely make you so sore the next day that it’ll kill your motivation to work out again.
Steffen Peters, a four-time Olympic dressage competitor and three-time USEF Horseman of the Year, doing jumping jacks.
Be more patient when your trainer says, “Slow down... do that exercise for the count of 1-2 down and 1-2-3 rise,” (instead of as fast as you can). Having better muscle tissue will result in calories burned even while you’re sleeping. It’s not about moving as fast as you can so your heart rate increases. Save that for your cardio day and hit the pool for 45 minutes. Today you’re lifting for better strength while maintaining core support.
How to get the heart rate up during your strength workouts? Incorporate coordination and agility exercises, like toe taps on the BOSU, running on the spot, jumping jacks (see Steffen Peters photo) or jump rope. For more ideas on how to bump up your cardio, Click Here.
If you like to feel the burn and get your heart rate up, being told to do a lunge or squat in slo-mo can be excruciating. Why would I want to go slow? Because doing it right will help you in the long run.
So next workout when your fitness trainer suggests that you try a lighter weight, or to slow down and focus on your form, give it a try. Instead of blasting through your reps, see if you can do the exercise perfectly, or as perfectly as you can by positioning your body correctly with the weights you are using.
Keep your form in an exercise to make the correct muscles engage. Your core will fire to work harder even though it may not feel like very much is going on. It’s more difficult for the body to isolate a muscle group than to use the entire body to get the exercise done. Speed in fitness is a sign of imbalances working to mask weaknesses.
Having a mirror to look in and to check your form when working out is great for making sure your form is correct – just like it is when you’re riding. Having a fitness trainer giving you an “eye on the ground” will also help you gain awareness during the exercise itself.