Form and cadence

11.6 Rep form is related to rep cadence and between-rep pauses, but slow cadence does not necessarily mean good form, and fast performance does not necessarily mean the use of poor technique. Slow does not always mean strict, just like fast does not always mean cheating. And heavy low-rep work does not necessarily mean fast reps.

11.7 A slow rep can still involve terrible exercise form, and some exercises—e.g., snatch, clean and jerk, clean, and other explosive movements—must be done quickly.

11.8 Any exercise can be performed in an explosive way, but explosiveness is not promoted in this book or in the insider's tell-all handbook on weight-training technique. ^ese books are concerned with minimizing the risk of injury while maximizing the potential for muscular size and strength. ^ere is no need to increase the demands on technical expertise, or to expose yourself to exaggerated muscle and connective tissue stresses in order to gain size and strength. Stick to the exercises promoted in this book and you can realize your potential for muscle and might while minimizing your risk of injury.

11.9 More important than rep speed per se, is rep smoothness. If your reps are smooth, you are using the control that is necessary for safety and applying great stress on the involved musculature.

11.10 Smoothness and a moderate or slow tempo of rep cadence are not necessarily the same thing. It is possible, for example, to perform a three-second bench press ascent that involves an explosive start. ^e first few inches might take a split second, but the rest of the rep could take almost three seconds. ^at very explosive initial thrust greatly exaggerates the stress on the involved musculature and connective tissue, and is an unnecessary risk. But you probably could have performed a smooth two-second ascent with the same weight. In this case, the two-second rep would be safer than the three-second one.

11.11 Recall the pause test given in the previous chapter:

When doing the exercises listed in this book [in Chapter 10] you should be able to stop each at any point, hold the weight briefly, and then continue. In an intensive set you will probably not be able to pause and get your target reps, depending on which rep you paused. ^e idea is that you could pause as a demonstration of control.

11.12 If you can pass the pause test, you have control over the bar, and can focus your attention on intensity of effort and poundage progression. But if you do not have control over the bar, you need to fix that before you focus on intensity and poundage progression. Sloppy reps done with intensity will hurt you, and sooner rather than later.

11.13 Let rep smoothness and the pause test be your guides for rep performance. It is not necessary to count seconds, or to lock yourself into a specific cadence for each exercise. In practice, however, smooth reps that pass the pause test will take about three seconds for the positive (or longer for the final rep or two of a set) and at least three seconds for the negative.

11.14 At the beginning of each set of multiple reps you are stronger than you need to be to perform the reps. You will not need to use your full degree of effort until the final reps of each set. But even using the maximum power output possible over the final rep(s) of a set will move the resistance only relatively slowly.

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