The value of slowing down

Bear with me here. It's going to start off looking like an exercise post at the beginning. It takes a little while, but I wind up making what I think is a valid real-life point eventually.

I slowed down my workouts this week.

My typical workout looks something like this. Set my Nike+ iPod to 5K. Run as fast as I can manage over the distance. Finish in about 14 minutes. Feel like crap. Sit for a minute (well, three, really) and have some water and try to catch my breath. Set the chest press on 135, the lat pull-down on 140, the seated row at 125 and the shoulder press at 90. Do 3x5 quickly on each (that's three sets of five repetitions). Walk the track a couple of times. Climb up the stairs and sit long enough to let my heart rate down and to let the flow of testosterone normalize.

The next morning, I'm fine. Possibly a little stronger, but I don't hurt.

Reference, for those of you who don't know me personally. I'm somewhat fit (14 minute 5K on an indoor track is competitive, even). I have about 15 pounds of fat to lose (I'm 20& body fat at 160 pounds – 15 pounds of fat down would get me to about 14% body fat, which on a guy maybe let's you start to see the top two portions of the ab muscle). (Also, I work in a gym, so I've become a bit of a fitness geek. The rectus abdominus is a single muscle; a 6- or 8-pack is really just definition of one muscle.)

My workout today was excruciating. I ran something like 3.8 miles in 28 minutes. A 5K, which I do in half that time, is about 3.1 miles. I slowed my pace WAY down and went for time. I did the same four machines, but I did 3x8. Very slowly. Like 6 seconds out, 6 seconds back. My last set on the chest press I was having a hard time cranking out 50 pounds (you'll remember I do 135 normally). 70 on the lat pull-downs, 60 on the rows and 35 on the shoulder press.

I'm currently having a hard time lifting a glass of iced coffee.

This makes me a bit curious about the value of slowing down. Now, don't get me wrong. Pain and soreness are not always the measure of a good workout. But I can tell that this is muscle confusion, not injury.

One thing going slowly does do is make us pay attention to detail. It also requires us to be more efficient. Neither of those is a bad thing.

In fact, there's a whole industry of innovation going on for making us more efficient. Go ahead. Turn on your smart phone. Go to whatever your app store is – it doesn't matter if it's a BlackBerry, iPhone or Android device. I'll bet there's a whole category of apps called "productivity."

These are things like to-do lists. Task monitors. Things that disconnect you from the Internet or social media so you can do some actual work. Apps that make multiple social media accounts easy to use together. Things that help you do stuff faster, so that even if you're doing those things more slowly, they're getting done in the same amount of time.

Want another way to do things a little more slowly?

Take a look at your to-do list. Rate stuff on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being very important and 5 being not at all important. Cross off everything with a 5. Move everything with a 4 to the bottom so that you can get to them when you get to them. Go do all your number ones right now.

And...go!

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One Response to “The value of slowing down”

  1. It’s interesting you’ve said this. I also go to the gym, though not so much in the summer. Last year I was told by a body builder that everyone else was doing stomach crunches wrong. She said to do them slow and do as many as possible. What I started to do was do as many as I could through 2 songs on the MP3 player. It is a totally different experience but during that second song, you’re really starting to feel it.
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