What are your thoughts on lifting and constant tension?

June 13, 2015

Q:. What are your thoughts on faster reps with momentum compared to lifting slow and placing the muscles under constant tension?


One of the main goals of lifting weights is activating as many muscle fibers as possible while completing each exercise. This allows you to get a great workout without putting bone-crushing pressure on your joints and connective tissue, but more importantly, constant tension works a lot better than using momentum to swing the weight back and forth. Here are some tips to help you get it done.


Control the weight

Lift with purpose by controlling the bar at all times in an even path, squeezing and flexing the muscles being worked.

Try not to relax at any point during the movement, and establish mind-muscle connections where you visualize your muscles contracting and filling with blood as you complete each movement correctly. Pay attention to other important form issues like keeping your knees slightly bent and your abs flexed while completing standing exercises, and focus on the primary muscles being worked.


Split-second pause

A great way to ensure you are getting the most out of each repetition is to pause for a split second at the top and bottom of each movement. This automatically reduces any chance for momentum that will take the pressure off the muscles and put it on the joints where it can cause injury. You can still move the bar at a reasonable speed, but stopping at the top and bottom of each movement will ensure that the targeted muscles are engaged and feeling the burn the whole time you are lifting the weight.


Proper weight

Learn to use weights that are heavy enough to cause an intense burn but light enough to use great form. This means if you have to swing the weight back and forth to lift it, you need to reduce the weight because it’s too heavy.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s fine to move the weight at a decent speed, but if you pause at the top and bottom of the movement and you don’t have to bounce the bar off your chest or swing your body back and forth to get it done, you’re on the right track.


Don’t lock out

A locked joint is a rested muscle. That’s why you can’t hold a lot more weight on your back in a standing position than you can squat, but if you learn to keep the muscles contracted during the entire movement, stopping just short of lockout you will build up an intense burn unlike anything you have ever felt while lifting.

I can guarantee that if you master this technique you will only be able to handle weights that are appropriate for best results, and you will put a lot less stress on your joints and connective tissue.

Following the above guidelines will not only help you activate as many muscle fibers as possible but also will reduce the chances of injury, teaching you proper form and giving you more productive workouts.

Try incorporating them into your workouts.

With a little practice you will see the value of constant tension.

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter