if you want to intensify an exercise, then slowing down the tempo is the way to go about it(Shutterstock)
if you want to intensify an exercise, then slowing down the tempo is the way to go about it(Shutterstock)

Fit and Fine: Equipment-free workout for everyone

Fitness expert Kamal Singh offers some simple solutions
By Kamal Singh CSCS | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2020 12:50 AM IST

We are more than a month in to the lock down and most people would be pretty bored of doing the same old push ups, lunges and squats. There only so many bodyweight exercises till you get used to them and they stop having a major impact on strength and muscle growth aka hypertrophy. In this column I will share with you two tips which you can use to intensify your equipment free workouts, adding new stimulus which would lead to renewed growth.

Defining how we do an exercise

Performance of any type of exercise has three distinct phases – whenever working against gravity is the concentric or positive phase, working with gravity or the lowering phase is the eccentric or negative portion. The pause between the concentric and eccentric is called the isometric. Generally, you would maintain a regular tempo while doing any exercise -1 second down, 0 seconds hold and 1 second up.

The principle of isometric is very simple – hold for an extended period of time the most difficult part of an exercise (Shutterstock)
The principle of isometric is very simple – hold for an extended period of time the most difficult part of an exercise (Shutterstock)

In fact, people try to speed up their repetitions, so as to do more reps. That would be a good strategy if you were taking a fitness test where you had to do the maximum number of repetitions in a set time. But if you want to intensify an exercise, then slowing down the tempo is the way to go about it. So do it this way – 2 seconds down, 1 second hold, 2 seconds up. Somebody who is not used to focusing on their repetitions will be surprised to find out that they have been cheating on the range of motion all along and they are not really strong and fit!

When the negative is positive for growth

Slowing down the eccentric portion of an exercise can do wonders for increasing strength and amount of muscle fibers being recruited! Also if you have some niggling pain in your knees or elbows from doing too many lunges or push ups, shifting to eccentric focused workouts can ease the pain. Here’s how to go about it – say we are going to do two exercises – squats and push ups. For squats take 6 seconds going down, then use the help of a chair, wall etc to stand up. Try doing 15 repetitions for 3 sets. Expect your thighs to be on fire! Similarly, for the push ups – get into a push up position – arms extended, glutes and core tight, lower yourself to the floor in 6 seconds then back to the push up position. Aim for 15 repetitions for 3 sets. Feel the burn.

Don’t do anything – Just hang in there

Just focusing on the isometric is another way to increase the intensity of the exercise. The principle is very simple – hold for an extended period of time the most difficult part of an exercise. In the push up, it would be about 6 inches off the floor, in the lunge it would be when the thigh is parallel to the ground and in the squat when the hip is slightly lower than the knee.

You can do an isometric based workout like this – do 3 sets of 10 repetitions of squats and push ups, where each repetition is held for 10 seconds. Only caveat with Isometric exercise is that these tend to increase Blood Pressure. So if you have blood pressure issues, then stay away from isometrics.

To summarise

•It is difficult to increase the intensity of bodyweight exercises after a certain repetition range has been reached.

•Slowing down the execution of an exercise can lead to new growth of muscle and improvement in fitness.

•Eccentric and Isometric focused training can be used to intensity an exercise routine and beat boredom.

•If you have high blood pressure, then stay away from Isometrics.

Now go do it…..

Author bio: Kamal Singh is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist who has been coaching for 15 years

From HT Brunch, May 3, 2020

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